Is Air Hockey a Real Sport?

Written by GameTablePlanet

GameTablePlanet is reader-supported. When you buy through the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn More

My town is hosting an air hockey tournament later this week. It made me wonder if there was such a thing as an official air hockey tournament and whether air hockey was an actual sport. I decided to do some research on the subject.

Air hockey is in fact an actual sport. There are official air hockey leagues that host official air hockey tournaments and invite players from all over the world to come and play against people who are at the same level as them.

Air hockey has always been one of the most popular table games in history. Arcades, bars, and even homes have these game tables and most anyone can play the game. They come in a variety of sizes, designs, and quality but the game play is always very fun and very competitive.

Air Hockey History

This game is still relatively new. Brunswick Billiards employees invented the game in the early 1970’s and it became an instant success which was followed by the formation of many different air hockey leagues that hosted frequent tournaments.

The large amount of different leagues made a lot of confusion on what the rules of the game where because these leagues often created a different set of rules not specified by Brunswick Billiards. These rules set by the creators were quickly made void.

Instead of using Brunswick's set of rules the United States Air-Table Hockey Association decided that their rules would be the final rules to be used and they still are today. These rules are what are used during most official tournaments today. 

The United States Air-Table Hockey Association holds the most popular air hockey tournament every year. It is a very competitive setting with players from all over the world coming to compete. However, it’s hard to get into this particular tournament because it’s so tight knit. Usually, it’s the same players that compete every year.

If you are interested in competing in a tournament there are a ton of smaller tournaments you can find or you could even start your own. Because of its popularity they are often very large but they are also a great way to meet people and have fun with a bunch of strangers. 

Official Air Hockey Rules (Us Air Hockey Table Association)

If you’re thinking about joining one of these air hockey tournaments then there you will need to know the official rules to follow. Not following these rules will get you a lot of fouls and you’ll just be genuinely disliked in the tournament community since it is expected you know the rules. Here are a couple of the basics:

  • One air hockey match is made up of 7 rounds. A player wins a round by being the first one to make 7 goals.

  • The only way to score a point is by making a goal. For a goal to be made the puck must fall through the slot or if it’s partially in the slot and is tilted upwards. A goal is not made if the puck goes into the goal and bounces back out of it.

  • The only equipment allowed to be used are the mallets (1 for each of the two players) and the 1 puck available for the table. If a player uses any part of their body, cloths, or another object in the playing area to help them win they will be given a foul.

  • There are many reasons to give a player a foul. When a foul is committed then the round will stop and start off with the offended player serving.

  • After every round the players must switch sides. Servers also switch after every round. If one player started off the previous round then the other player will start the next round serving.

  • Once the initial serve has been made the player who lost a point will serve next.

  • If at any point a player stops the puck by placing their mallet on top of the puck they will be given a foul.

  • Once a player has control of the puck they have a total of 7 seconds to shoot the puck. If they fail to do so within the time limit they will be given a foul.

  • Players are allowed to call time out at any time but the time out must last no longer than 30 seconds unless allowed by an official.

  • The center line cannot be crossed by either player, they must stay on their own side of the table. This means they are allowed to move around their side of the table as long as they don’t cross the line.

Related Questions:

How Big is an Air Hockey Table?

A full-sized air hockey table is going to be 7.5 feet long and 4.17 feet wide. This is the size used in all official air hockey playing and is the preferred size in bars and arcades. However, there are many different sizes of air hockey tables. They vary depending on their quality and their type of use.

How Do You Unclog an Air Hockey Table?

Often times, the holes of the air hockey table can get clogged from a variety of materials. This causes a lack of air flow which causes friction between the table and the hockey puck. You can unclog these holes by taking a toothpick to each of the holes.

To avoid the holes from clogging, you should clean the surface regularly as well as the inside of the table. Dust forms beneath the surface and gets blown through the holes and clogs them. You can vacuum the inside and clear out the blower motor by taking the surface of your table off.

About the author