All You Need To Know About Air Hockey

Air hockey presently is seen as a table game most people have in the basement or in some clubs. At its inception in the 1970's it was quite a huge hit and adopted quickly by the market. The idea behind the game was to come up with a mini version of the hockey game on a friction less surface. The need for friction less surface was to have puck used in the game to almost float around the surface in almost the same manner the real game is played.

It was not until the introduction of arcade games and video games in the late 80’s and early 90’s that the popularity of this game waned. Even then, it has maintained a professional circuit in a number of large cities across the USA and in Europe. It is still a great game to play at home and parties much like a game of pool.

All You Need To Know About Air Hockey

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A brief History

Air Hockey was invented by a group of Brunswick Billiards employees over the period of 1969 to 1972. They were a trio of Brunswick engineers Phil Crossman, Bob Kenrick and Brad Baldwin. After a couple of years in stagnation, Bob Lemieux revived the project with a focus on creating a miniature version of ice hockey. The ideas were to have, a thin disc, two strikers for hitting the disc, and a surface with slit like goals which were equipped with photo detectors. Phil Crossman, Bob Kenrick and Bob Lemieux hold the original patents of the game. The solution for a frictionless surface was found by adopting a table invented for a totally different purpose.

The game was then introduced, marketed and sold to the general public and it proved to be a big hit. By the mid 1970's it had achieved significant interest from different regions and it resulted in the formation of regional associations. The first one of these were the Houston Air Hockey Players Association the Texas Air Hockey Players Association. The regional association helped modify the rules while promoting the sport through local tournaments.

They led to the formation of the national sanctioning body the United States Air-Table Hockey Association (USAA) in 1975. Many of the non-player friendly rules set by the Brunswick Corporation were removed with the national body setting the new rules and ensuring uniform play standards. In 2015 the Air Hockey Players Association (AHPA) was formed to provide additional organization and administration of the sport.

Both USAA and AHPA have been organizing championships since their formation. The USAA has organized USAA world championships since 1978 as well as US championships since 1983. The AHPA has organized it world championships from 2015. Other prominent competition include the European Championships, Texas State Open, Catalan Championships and Russian Open.

Popularity of air hockey is strong in the following cities and states across Europe and the USA. Houston, San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego, Denver, Chicago, New York City, Boston in the USA and Barcelona in Spain, St Petersburg and Moscow in Russia, Most and Brno in Czech Republic.

Equipment and Tools

To understand and enjoy playing the game of air hockey, you have to understand the various equipment and parts of the game. Knowing the make-up of each part and its purpose allows you to style your game and skills to gain the most advantage.

The air hockey table comes with a flat smooth surface with small holes evenly spread out through the table surface. A fan placed underneath the table at the center blows air though the holes allowing the puck to float smoothly across the table surface. The blanket of air caused by the blower fan lowers the friction significantly. This is what gives the airy part of the game and name.

The sidewall around the table surface can be used to make bank shots and are used to score goals through the goal box positioned at the end. Depending on the make of the table, the goal box can come with electronic ability to recognize when a puck drops in the box. Other versions come with a manual scoring counter and you keep track of your scores.

The mallet is a circular plastic tool used to strike the puck in making a shot. It is also your defensive device when preventing your opponent’s shots from getting into your goal. Its circular nature allows you to control the direction of the puck when striking. The puck is a small circular disc in the shape of the real hockey game. They are however plastic to make them lighter and allow fast movement across the surface.

How it is played and scoring

Air hockey is an individual sport with two single players facing each other at opposite ends of the table. The players stand at a central position behind the end rail with a mallet held in hand in front of the goal box being protected. There is a center line at the middle of the table demarcating each player's side. Once the puck crosses the centerline to your side you are to defend it from getting in your box while trying to strike it to get to your opponent’s goal.

There is a variety of offensive shots used to score including straight shots, angled shots, bank shots, double shots and more. When playing defense the mallet is held between 8014 inches in front of your goal box and you are allowed to move it much further towards the centerline when playing offense.

The first player to get to 7 total goals wins the game or in case of a timed version the player with the most galls at the end of the set time.

Most games feature a best of seven format. At the start of play a coin toss is used to determine possession and starting sides. The player who wins the toss decides which side to begin on or whether to start with the possession. The one who starts with the puck possession also starts game 3, 5 and 7 while the opponent has start possession for game 2, 4, and 6. Add Promotional Branding to these unique Folding Hockey Puck Shaped Binoculars! The perfect giveaway for hockey games or fundraiser for youth teams!

Fouls and major rules

The player who has been scored against gets possession for the next serve. You can only hand serve the puck after it has entered your goal. You also can only use one mallet at a time when playing and violating this is a foul.

It is also forbidden to top the puck by placing the mallet on top of it at any time when on the playing surface as this constitutes a foul. You have 7 seconds to make a shot and timing of the second begins as soon as the puck gets on your side of the centerline until you make a shot that gets the puck over the centerline. Violating this rule also constitutes to a foul.

You can stand on any side of the table as long as it is within your centerline. You cannot tough the puck by any part of your body or clothes as it will constitute to palming which is a foul. There are timeouts in the game though a player is only entitled to one per game lasting 10 seconds. The time out can only be taken when the puck is in your possession or not in play.

Sandra Gonzalez

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