Air hockey is a great indoor game and is a great way to spend some quality time with friends, or if you’re one of those competitive types, you can get your groove on with this extremely fun game. We have to warn you it can get very intense if you let it get to your head, and the games can usually get out of hand unless some rules are set to make it more organized and these rules actually make these games more fun to play.
Air hockey isn’t just an indoor game, it’s also becoming like a sport with many associations trying to bring it more official recognition and they’ve tried to regulate the sport with tournaments and rules. I know lots of people just try to freestyle the game and play for fun without following the actual rules.
But…there are actually rules to this game that serious players take very seriously!
These rules can often become cumbersome and hard to follow for people who just want to play friendly games and beginners alike, so in this article I’m giving a beginner-friendly guide to the rules of air hockey.
Objects Allowed In The Game
- A proper air hockey table, of course, is the first thing to have in an air hockey game and the table should meet USAA standards. You can find a list of USAA standard tables on their official website, and the tables must be broken in.
- A device that attaches the mallet to your hand is allowed as long as it doesn’t affect the puck during
Every game should begin with a face off, a coin is tossed to determine the starting sides i.e. who gets to pick which side, the player who wins the toss gets to pick which side to start the game on. The player who wins the face off is allowed to start the following games with the puck: games 3, 5 and 7 while the loser gets to start games 2, 4 and 6 with the puck.
In a face off, the puck is put flat in position at the center of the table by the game official and the players are then allowed to be about an inch of the puck’s position on the table. When both players are ready and in position, the game official will then call out if the players are ready and if they are, he then releases the puck within four seconds of calling out if the players are ready. When the puck is released the players are allowed to go for it.
The game official should try as much as possible to release the puck without causing the puck to move too much.
These rules actually seem too official and boring so if you’re interested in just playing a few games with your friend you can just place the puck in the center and begin the game from there by hitting the puck hard. And the truth is, this is what 99% of the people we know actually do!
Basic Rules Of The Game
- The first player to get up to 7 points wins the game.
- A player gets a point when the puck gets into the goal of an opponent unless a foul has been committed, I’m pretty sure you’re wondering if there are fouls in this game, c’mon every game
has got fouls. I’ll get into what is a foul later in this article.
- The players change their sides of the table after each game.
- The player who concedes a goal is the one who gets the puck for the next serve.
- A player can only serve the puck with his hand after it has entered his goal.
- A player can hit the puck with any part of the mallet.
- Players are only allowed to play with one mallet at a time.
- Players cannot have more than one puck in play.
- Players are given seven seconds to carry out a shot when it crosses the centre-line and gets into their half and the seven seconds start immediately the puck gets into their half.
- The puck may be hit by either player when it is in contact with the center-line.
- Players are allowed to stand anywhere around the table of their side from the center line. Players are not allowed to go beyond the centerline to the opponents’ side of the table when vying for the puck.
- A foul is called if any part of the players’ body touches the puck.
- Players are allowed to call for a time out once per game, and can only do that when in possession of the puck and the time out shouldn’t be more than 10 seconds.
- When a player wants to call for a time out, the player must indicate clearly.
- A player who just conceded a goal has only ten seconds to remove the puck from his goal and resume play, and the time starts immediately the puck gets in the goal.
One more thing to note is that a point does not count if the puck rebounds out of the goal, but if it rebounds out of the goal and hits the players hand and goes back into the goal it stands as a point.
Fouls In The Game
The one problem with not following the rules is that people can cheat and things can get intense and players may commit fouls over and over. And then if you don’t know the rules of the game, it ends up being not much fun.
So at least to bring some sort of fairness and regulation to these games, here are a list of fouls one can commit in an air hockey game. First of all the penalty for a foul is that the player who commits the foul loses the puck to the other player, the penalty for a technical foul is a free shot in front of an open goal of the player who committed the foul.
- A foul is committed if a players mallet goes completely past the center-line into their opponents half.
- If the puck is hit too hard and it flies off the table a foul is called but if the player defending a shot hits the puck off the table while defending a shot a foul isn’t called.
- A foul is called if a player loses control of his mallet during play.
- There’s a technical foul called goaltending i.e. if the puck is in motion towards the goal and the defending player handles the puck with any part of their hand, arm or body(this action is called palming). A technical foul is given if goal tending occurs.
- You obviously know players aren’t supposed to touch the puck with their hands too.
Just remember to have fun!
The whole point of air hockey and other games is to have fun. If you’re playing a competition, then the rules will have a totally different meaning to you. Even if you are playing casually as most players are, it still helps to know a few rules to make sure things don’t get too out of hand.
And if you decide to get more serious, and eventually more competitive or professional, hopefully this post will give you a few specific rules and regulations to remember and use next time you are playing air hockey.
And be sure to see our guide to air hockey terminology – understanding the terminology will help you enjoy the game more.
I’m Lia and I love playing games. I started this site to share things with friends and they encouraged me to post more and now I’m trying to share things with the world – indoor and outdoor sports, and board and bar games. I write about things like Bocce, Croquet, Billiards, Darts and other fun ways to enjoy time with your friends and family!