Air Hockey Tables Guide

The Ultimate Air Hockey Table Guide

If you are looking for some fun time with your family, why don't you consider keeping an air hockey table? Air hockey tables are a superb way to enjoy your time with family and friends and adding a little competition to the game for making it more exciting.

However if you are new to air hockey tables, worry not. Here's a useful guide we have compiled to help you understand the essential aspects of the game.

What is an Air Hockey Table?

An air hockey table is similar to a pool table in appearance, but has a completely different playing surface. Air hockey tables have a very smooth playing surface which is punctured by several tiny air holes. The table has a fan underneath that forces air through the air holes.

Players stand on either side of the air hockey table with pushers or mallets and strike a circular, flat disc called the puck, which is aimed towards the opponent's goal. The air currents from below the table surface pose a challenge by creating an air cushion underneath the puck, thus causing it to float across the table surface.

This reduced friction causes the puck to speed. The real challenge while playing air hockey table isn't just to put the puck in the opponent's goal, but to strategically use the sides of the air hockey table, called rebound rails, to attack the opponent's area from multiple angles.

Game Levels and Air Hockey Tables

If you are looking to buy the best air hockey table, it is important to know who it is for. The type of air hockey table you need to buy will depend largely on the three levels of the game: beginner, intermediate, advanced. It is important to understand these levels before investing on anything.

Beginner Air Hockey Tables

Beginner tables are suitable for players who are new to air hockey. This is the basic table that doesn't have many special features. Beginner tables come at a low price and is the best option if your child is playing it. However, these tables lack the durability for repeated use. Therefore, you might have to upgrade soon if you develop an interest in the game.

Beginner-Air-Hockey-Table

Intermediate Air Hockey Tables

If you have developed a liking for air hockey tables, but lack the skills for making a big leap or the space in your house, you may choose the intermediate tables. An intermediate air hockey table comes with more features than the beginner table. You can repeatedly use these tables because they are more durable and sturdy. If you don't have any competition in mind, intermediate air hockey tables are a great way to have some fun time at home.

Advanced Air Hockey Tables

Advanced tables are suitable if you have attained a fair degree expertise in the air hockey. Advanced air hockey tables are extremely well-built and last for years. Although relatively more expensive than beginner or intermediate tables, advanced tables give a good value for money. These tables have a flat and seamless playing surface and thick rebound rails for smooth deflection. Moreover, advanced tables need fewer repairs as they are not prone to scratches and dents.

professional-air-hockey-table

How to play Air Hockey?

Air hockey table is a great way to invest in entertainment. You get hours of fun at home for the years to come. Playing on an air hockey table isn't that complicated, but like all other games, it also has a few rules. The United States Air Hockey Association has established a few rules for air hockey. So here's how you can play a game on an air hockey table:

Kick-off

You might need a referee to help you guide through the US Air Hockey Association rules. But you can manage without one to kick-off your game:

1. Flip a coin to decide which side of the table you and your opponent would be on. You and your opponent swap sides after each game.

2. The first round of the game is the face-off round. The puck lies at the center of the air hockey table, and each player can start with their mallets from anywhere but should be an inch away the puck. One a count of three, the game begins and players compete to hit the puck into the opponent's goal area.

3. All further air hockey games kick-off with one person in possession of the puck. The loser of the face-off round starts games 2, 4 and 6, while the winner starts games 3, 5 and 7.

Play The Game

During the game, players can stand anywhere around the air hockey table on his/her side of the centerline. The puck can be hit only if it is on his/her side of the centerline. Once the puck crosses the center line, the player gets seven seconds to return it to the opponent. If the puck is on the centerline, any of the two players can hit it.

There are strict rules around interaction with the puck. The puck can be touched only with the mallet. If the hand, arm or clothing touch the puck, it would be declared a foul. Topping an airborne puck with the mallet would also be considered a topping violation. However, you can use the mallet to bat the puck back if it goes off the playing surface.

Scoring

For a player to score, the puck must drop into the opponent player's goal and stay there. The player's opponent gets one point for a goal scored if the player commits a foul prior to or during the shot. Own goals are very much possible in the game, irrespective of whose mallet touched the puck last.

The rules also state that when a player scores a goal, he/she has to remove the puck from the goal and place it on the table within 10 seconds. The ten seconds start as soon as the puck drops through the goal entirely. However, the rule is suspended during time-outs. Each player of the game is entitled to 10 seconds of time-out. The player who scores the goal gets the possession of the puck for serving next.

Winning

The first player who scores 7 goals wins the game. If you are playing a tournament-style, the first person to win 4 games becomes the winner of the game. The players swap side after each game is complete.

Types of air hockey tables

There are a few types of air hockey you can buy in the market. However, the type of table you buy will depend greatly on your level of expertise. Based on the aforementioned three game levels, you can buy the following types of air hockey tables:

sportcraft-air-hockey-table

Arcade style air hockey table

This is a professional air hockey table that is relatively more expensive than the others. The arcade style air hockey table is suitable for advanced players who have developed a fair degree of interest and expertise in the game. These air hockey tables are well-constructed and measures about eight feet in length. They have strong blowers and feature electronic scoring and other sound effects.

The arcade style air hockey tables are very durable and you can play with it for years to come. The arcade style air hockey tables are known for their smooth table surface that glides the puck seamlessly, and sturdy rebound rails that provide accurate deflection. These tables are less prone to scratches and dents, which makes them long-lasting.

Wood air hockey table

A wood air hockey table would come at a lower price than an arcade style air hockey table because it doesn't have many features. Unlike the arcade style tables, a wood air hockey table does not have sound effects or flashing lights. However, they have the durability to last for a few years at least.

Although the table surface lacks the required smoothness, a wood air hockey table is good for children. Nonetheless, these tables vary greatly in size, price and quality. A standard wood air hockey table would be cheaper than a professional air hockey table for avid teenagers or adults who have perfected their skill to some extent.

Foldable air hockey table

A foldable air hockey table is suitable for people who wish to carry their table for playing in different locations. If you have a small playing area at homes, you can buy a foldable air hockey table for greater portability and ease in storage. You can simply fold the table and keep it after completing a game. These tables occupy less space and contribute less to clutter in the house.

A foldable air hockey table is relatively smaller compared to other professional air hockey tables. They are an economical way of making you family-time more fun-filled and exciting. A foldable air hockey table is best for children who are fledgling players because its height can be easily adjusted as desired.

foldable-air-hockey-table

Child air hockey table

Children are usually at the beginner phase when they first start the game. In order to give them a basic understanding of the game, you should consider buying a child air hockey table. The child air hockey table is relatively smaller like the foldable ones, and is suitable for homes where is space is a constraint.

You can introduce your child to the game with a child air hockey table whose height can be adjusted. Although it isn't the best table when it comes to playing experience, you can still start with it and upgrade to better ones later.

Multi-game air hockey table

A multi-game air hockey table offers several different games to buyers with one purchase. Buying a multi-game air hockey table would allow you to enjoy a huge variety of games such as shuffleboard, bowling, table tennis, and board games like checkers, backgammon and chess. The tables are very durable and long-lasting. They also have good sound and light effects for an exciting experience.

Things to consider while buying an air hockey table

The choice of hockey tables depend largely on the budget and expertise level of players. In order to get the best playing experience, you need to ensure that you get the best-quality table. Choosing an air hockey table from such a huge collection can be daunting, but you can consider the following factors while buying one:

Table size

Table size is one of the most important factors to consider while buying a professional air hockey table. Table size is influenced by the space in your house and the type of air hockey you wish to play. A small table is suitable for smaller rooms. However, if you are planning to play competitively, then you might need a larger table because practicing on a smaller table could be difficult for beginners.

Table construction

Ideally, a professional air hockey table should be made of solid wood and have sturdy legs for bearing the weight of the players as they lean on different sides of the table. The joints of the table should be strong and well-secured with screws. You should avoid buying plywood tables because they might lead to issues with the legs later. Also look for levelers at the base of each leg so that it becomes easy to place the table on an uneven surface.

Rink walls

The air hockey tables having nylon or aluminum rink walls are ideal. These walls provide accurate deflection of the puck without creating any dents or scratches. For a faster and intense play, always ensure that the rink walls of your table is made of solid aluminum. Even if you buy a cheaper table to save cost, you are likely to incur more expenses in the future because cheaper rink walls scratch and dent very easily.

Table motor

The table motor is also an important factor to consider while buying an air hockey table. The table motor supplies air jets to the table surface. Before you buy a table, you should ensure that the table motor is strong enough to supply air throughout the table surface. A good quality motor runs noiselessly, does not overheat, and provides continuous play for a long period of time. A table motor with a Plenum Chamber is ideal for a seamless gameplay.

Puck size

The puck size largely determines the ease in scoring goals. Ensure that your puck size isn't that big lest it might lose mobility on the surface. Moreover, big-sized pucks might also make it difficult for players to remove it from the goal during time-outs.

Benefits of owning an air hockey table

A professional air hockey table offers a range of benefits, which are as follows:

Social activity

Air hockey is fun and social way to spend time with friends and family at home. The excitement involved in the game often keeps people glued to it for hours. Having a professional air hockey table at home can help people connect well with other players and socialize with them.

Non-physical activity

Unlike outdoor games that involve physical exertion, air hockey is a non-physical activity that can be played indoors. You only need to purchase a professional air hockey table and have an enjoyable time within the comfort zone of your house.

Entertainment

Perhaps the primary objective of air hockey is to entertain players. Buying a table means you are investing in a source of entertainment. Moreover, owing to the durable nature of these tables, you can use them for several years. Thus, your source of entertainment is never depleted.

Competitive

Since air hockey involves a competition between two players, you can become more competitive after playing a game. This is particular useful for kids because the game trains them to hone their skills with practice and compete with others in a healthy and amicable manner.

Improved reflexes

In order to drop the puck in your opponent's goal, you need to have super strong focus and reflexes. The game helps you in developing strong mental agility and alertness because you have to constantly focus on striking the puck with the mallet.

How to make an air hockey table?

You can follow the following steps to make an air hockey table easily:

Measurement 

The measurements and requirements differ depending on the type of table you want to make and space available in your house. Full-size tables are generally 90 inches in length and 50 inches in breadth. Your room should have at least 10 foot by 7 foot area as open space for the table to fit in.

You need to know the measurement of components, construction frame, supports, plate opposite of chipboard surface, mallets and puck, goal, and air source. Gather tools such as a jigsaw, drill, hammer and nails, duct tape and thermostatic adhesives.

Frame Construction

After you get your measurements, you can proceed to building the frame. The components need 45-degree angle end and accuracy for fitting them together. Check the size of the beams by placing them on the clipboard.

Remember to work on a flat surface for accuracy and ease. Attach the beams to the corresponding bigger ones with nails with glue and fit the chipboard into the ridge. Glue all the four sides and tie a strap around the framework for tightening it. Allow the glue to dry for about four hours.

Playing surface

You need to make a proper grid on the MDF and drill holes accordingly. Preparing the playing surface and drilling holes is slightly time consuming. But make sure you don't rush through the process. Remove the burrs using a sanding machine. Ensure that your holes do not have waste in them for avoiding hindrance to air supply.

Placing the surface on the pillars

After you make the playing surface and pillars, use a non-polyurethane glue to fix them together. Make sure you don't use a polyurethane glue because it causes the wood pieces to be displaced or slightly lifted. Place the chipboard on the pillars and allow the glue to dry for a few hours. For attaching the surface to the rest of the frame, you need to hammer nails through the sides into the supporting beams.

Air inlet/leaf blower

For making an air inlet or leaf blower, you will be needing a tube, the size of which will differ depending on the type of air hockey table you are making. A perforated PVC sheet is ideally used in place of a chipboard for covering a large area.

Use a muff to fit the PVC sheet and the tube, and stick the muff to the blue tube using a thermoplastic adhesive. Connect the other end of the tube to the leaf blower outlet using a duct tape. Drill the PVC sheet and two layers of plywood; one piece should have four and the other should have eight holes. Place the PVC sheet and the two plywood in manner that the holes are aligned and screw them together.

Goals

The last step is making the goals. Create a perforation into the framework about 15 centimeters away from the middle of two short side holes. Use a jigsaw to cut between these holes at the height of the surface. Nail down two long beams above and under the drilled area with a fabric in between. This fabric acts as a sack around the goal, which allows you to take the puck out when a player earns a score.

Air Hockey Expert Tips

For getting the maximum value out of your air hockey table, you should be following a few tips from experts:

Always keep a set of replacement puck with you in case the present one might get lost. Some pucks are prone to wearing and lose their smoothness and mobility. Replace such puck with new ones when you experience a decrease in its glide.

Avoid playing rough and cause damage to other players.

Keep the surface of your air hockey table clean so that the puck glides about easily.

Conclusion

Air hockey tables are a great way to have fun at home with friends and family. The online market is flooded with superior-quality and reasonably priced professional air hockey tables which can entertain you for several years. However, choose a reliable dealer and consider important aspects before making a purchase.

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