How To Play Air Hockey: The Basic Rules

Air Hockey is considered as the best arcade-style game that is ever invented. This is a competitive game that needs speed, skill, and patience. You have to be very fast, sometimes need to take the offensive shots, and have a strong defensive strategy. 

Are you looking to learn how to play air hockey? Yes? You are just in the right place. This article has discussed some useful and essential tips and some proven tactics that will help you score on your opponent and dominate your opponent’s match. By using these strategies and tips, you can regularly win both friendly and competitive matches.

To get started, the most important thing is the air hockey table itself. A maximum number of air hockey tables come with a digital scoreboard that keeps track of your points, but you will need something to track this manually if your one doesn’t. Besides, you will also need a puck, which is the disk’s name passed back and forth between players. Last but not least, you will also need two mallets that both players use to hit the puck while playing. For example, puck and striker set. You are ready to start if you have all these things.

Then again, if you somehow compete with friends and play often, you might need to learn a few tips from the pros to refine your mallet skills.

We are here to help by sharing detailed information on how to play air hockey that includes an overall view of the basic rules, penalties, scoring, and some tips on how you can improve your skills.

Before going in detail, here are some key takeaways for you.

To protect your goal, always use the right defensive stance. Before attempting any tricky shots in a real match, especially if you are playing a match with a skilled player, you should try these shots more often while practicing. Be cautious about a rebound to prevent scoring on yourself. These are some common mistakes that a new player makes; only a little practice and applying the right offensive strategies will become easy for you to dominate in any match.


Start the Game!

The Player will determine with a simple toss either:

  • The player who will start in puck possession
  • Choosing the side of the table to begin

Both ways, the player who will have the puck will also begin games 3, 5, 7 with the puck, rotating with the opponent, who starts game 2, 4, and 6.

Start by sinking the puck

The first thing you need to learn is how to strike the puck to reach a higher top speed. When it comes to making contact with the puck, you want to be more of an aggressive player, driving your strike straight into the puck the same direction you want. However, few newbies think that hitting the puck using a sideways swiping movement is the correct bank shot. But a skilled player knows very well that you should hit the puck from behind, then strike it forward exactly the direction you want it to go. This will help transfer most of the power from the striker to the puck, disappearing it into your opponent’s goal before they even get time for setting up and counter the upcoming attack.

Always Be Careful with the Rebounds

There are some consequences of hitting the puck incorrectly. The odds are you will end up dealing with ricochets off the back wall caused by your shots. It is very frustrating and humiliating, scoring on your shots. So it would be best if you kept an eye on the puck so that you can predict the rebounds that occur from your shot and shut them down quickly. As soon as you make your shot, make it a habit of getting back to your defensive position to prevent sinking your puck in the wrong goal.

To Double Bank or Not to Double Bank?

If you are shooting correctly, the puck will never need to be banked off more than a single wall before it hits the goal. We don’t recommend the double bank for the offense because the puck tends to slow it down every time it slams into a wall. Because it gives them more time to set up the correct defensive stance as it takes a long time to reach your opponent’s goal. Remember, the shot must be crisp, fast, and should hit only one wall.

Keep Focus on Defense

We don’t mean leaning over with most of your torso covering your side of the table when we take a defensive stance. This is a huge mistake using this position, and it will cost you later on in the game even though most players, even skilled hockey players, also use it. If you lean over the table, this position makes it challenging to move back because you won’t shut down under banks. You will tend to have a snag mentality when you lean over the table. While defending, blocking a shot should outweigh over snagging a missed shot. Blocking a shot is easy when you have the proper defensive techniques.

The genuine defensive stance requires keeping the left leg back, and the right leg in a forward position and the knee slightly bent. Your knee should rest lightly on the table, and most of your weight should be balanced on the ball of your feet. Your torso should be placed at a ninety-degree angle on the floor instead of leaning over your side of the table. One of your hands should be resting on the edge of the railing.

Do Not Overcomplicate a Shot

An overly complicated shot or drift is a red flag in which a player doesn’t even know much about the offense. Try to focus on the air hockey pros’ vital shots when you practice cross-cut shots, unders and overs, and bank shots. You should also need to learn how to implement these significant shots from the center’s right and left using numerous releases.

Learn How to Adjust Your Defense

You have to learn rapidly how to adjust your defensive stance in a fast-paced game. Such as you need to pay close attention to how your opponent sets up their shots. This will allow you to predict where the puck will go so that you can quickly move your striker to the correct place to stop the oncoming puck.

Practice Trick Shots Regularly

Trick shots work as a trump card in a match. If you can use a trick shot properly, even if you are playing against an experienced opponent, you will be able to score on them over and over again. But these shots can be hard to learn. Setting up these tricky shots has to be done in a system that will stop you from tipping off your opponent to block the puck not to get enough time to adjust for their defensive stance.

Air Hockey Tables

Air Hockey Tables

Having an air hockey table at your home is a significant advantage as you can practice often more, in your way, at your own pace, spend time on perfecting your trick shot and defense skills. Besides, you can become good at learning the ins and outs of this game like what to do or what not to do when playing against a pro player. But in reality, every one of us doesn’t have the ability or the luxury of having a full-sized arcade-style air hockey table in our home.

If your apartment or house is relatively small in space, fitting up a compact model can be difficult. Models such as the Tabletop Air Hockey Table by Rally and Roar will not give you the same type of air hockey experience that you prefer. But you can easily focus on other trick shots along with the bank shots, which will help you to score big in your next game. One of the best parts of these tabletop models is that they are very lightweight and highly portable, so when you travel, you can take them with you and easily store them.

You May Also Like : 10 Best Air Hockey Tables To Buy In 2020

Puck Controlling Is Everything

Improving your puck control means starting from learning how to grab the puck to becoming a specialist in maneuvering it. The biggest mistake that a beginner makes is catching and hitting the puck immediately just after capturing it, not setting up properly for a good shot that might land in the opposition’s goal. You should generally focus on grabbing the puck properly; then, you should place it to a specific location and gain control before executing a shot.

You May Also Like : 10 Best Air Hockey Pucks To Buy In 2020

Issues with Offense

Practicing more foul shots will help a player become advanced in a short time. But most pro players are very aware and highlight mostly on mastering each step of the game before heading for the next. So if you don’t practice offensive shots, there is a higher possibility for you to end up making significant mistakes in your game, thus preventing you from utilizing any errors your opposite player may have.

But suppose you seriously focus on perfecting every single essential and tricky shot or can understand each move, or where the puck lands typically when these shots are made. In that case, it will become easier for you to understand what your opponent’s players are up to. If you want to score regularly or prevent them from scoring against you, you need to grow the ability to predict your opponent’s move.

Tips from the Pros

air hockey strategies

To tighten up, their game professional players use their tips and tricks. 

In this part, we share some important and useful tips, including some best trick shots and offensive game plan, how you can easily maintain possession of the puck, and how to hold the mallet properly.

Now let’s look at some of these.

Mallet Grip Beginner vs. Professional

Air hockey newbies try to grip the mallet’s knob using their full fist. But you can do it more elegantly than that.

For taking better control of your mallet, try to notice how the pros do it. Always try to place two or three fingers inside the shallow ring instead of placing your big and sweaty claw over the knob. 

By applying this technique, a player can achieve a broader range of motion, which will allow them to gain more speed and leverage.

Drifting and Taking Control of the Puck

First, a good player tries to keep the possession of the puck and then trick the defense. Rather than hitting the puck, a player should try to float it one way and hit differently. A player can do this with a left to right motion, a slicing-motion cut shot, and a straight shot.

Next Time, You’ll Play Air Hockey Like a Pro

how to play air hockey

If you have an air hockey table in your home, game room, or decide to go for a local hangout for some points and maybe a few strikes of a puck, you will come across as an expert and a professional next time you play with anyone!

Are you wondering how you can do that? Just relax, get ready, rub up on your hockey trucks, and take control of the puck!

Few Tips on How to Play Air Hockey Like a Pro

air hockey tips like a pro

It will be tempting for you to strike wildly at the puck whenever it enters your side of the playfield when you first start out playing air hockey. To step up your game, you can try out these tips to avoid looking like an amateur.

  • It would be best if you leveled up your grab. A maximum number of new players will try to hold the knob in the center of their mallet. But most expert air hockey players will control the mallet using only their three fingers resting them on the ridge, which means you are not gripping the knob with your hand. Instead, you will be putting your fingers in the rise of the striker. Which is going to give you a little bit more skills as you defend and strike.
  • Keep your possession of the puck. When the puck is coming at full speed towards you, the first instinct of you might be to hit it with forwarding momentum. Which is a mistake, anyway, and lead the way to wild shots. On the other hand, by working with the puck’s momentum, you can try to gain control of it to slow it down. After that, strike when you can aim more consciously. Use the same method if the puck rebounds to maintain the possession every time it re-enters your side of the playfield.
  • Use the method “out defense.” You need to be in a defensive mood when you don’t have any control of the puck, position your hand slightly forward instead of holding your mallet right in front of the goal. Do not wait for your opponent to strike. Always use a triangle method to block shots from any angle. Here is the triangle method for you: To catch oncoming pucks, you need to draw your hand back toward either end of your goal. This method makes it easier for you to regain possession of the puck and gives you more flexibility.

How to Play Air Hockey: The Rules

air hockey rules

Air hockey is pretty simple and straightforward: a player who can score seven points first is considered the winner. The player who is best out of seven rounds will be the winner of the game. Yet, you need to know the rules to exactly learn how to play air hockey. For your convenience, we have given the basic rules on air hockey. Just carry on with us.

  1. A match includes 7 games in total.
  2. To determine the starting side, a coin is tossed before starting the match. The winner of the toss decides on any side he wants to start with.
  3. To decide which player will start the games a second coin toss can be used having the puck 3, 5, and 7. And the other player will start the game with the puck on games 2, 4, and 6 accordingly for the first game. Finally, a puck is placed on the centerline and after the initial countdown, any player is allowed to push it. 
  4. The player who can score the 7 goals or points first is considered as a winner of the game.
  5. A score is considered and 1 point will be added if the puck drops inside the opponent player’s goal (unless a foul is committed).
  6. When a game is finished, players are allowed to change sides.
  7. In the next round, the player who conceded a goal will have the puck.
  8. If a player can concede a goal, only then he is allowed to touch the puck with his hands.
  9. On the playing surface, a player can only use one mallet or pusher.
  10. With any side of the mallet or pusher, you are allowed to strike a puck.
  11. You can not top the puck by raising the mallet.
  12. Only one puck is allowed during the play at any given moment.
  13. Once the puck is on a player’s side of the table, they will get only 7 seconds to push it.
  14. Either player can strike the puck if it touches any part of the centerline.
  15. Except trespassing the centerline to the other player’s side a player can stand anywhere he wants
  16. Touching the puck with any part of his body is considered as foul.
  17. Each player can take a time-out for 10 minutes. More than that is not allowed.
  18. If the player is able to possess the puck after a goal is scored only then he can only demand a time-out.
  19. A player should clearly indicate that he requires a time-out.
  20. After conceding a goal the player will have only 10 seconds to restart the play.
  21. The point does not count if the push rebounds out of the goalmouth.
  22. The puck is given to the other player if a foul is committed.


Now you know how to play air hockey like a pro! Shop a great collection of air hockey tables today to get started. And if you like this article or if you find this important after reading or even if you have learned something new from here please let us know.

Written by Zach Barnes

Zach Barnes is a sport enthusiast and a sports column writer. He is dedicated to continuously expanding his knowledge and sharing his expertise with others who have a passion for indoor games like foosball, badminton, air hockey etc. Zach Barnes aims to use his expertise to educate new players in improving skills and heighten excitement for these exciting games.

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