The rules of air hockey
An air hockey table can be considered an investment in entertainment. You'll get hours of fun for years to come when you add an air hockey table to your game room. Whether you play air hockey for leisure, social fun, or for competition, knowing the official rules as established by the United States Air Hockey Association will only add to the overall enjoyment of your air hockey table.
Making house rules
Of course, you may feel free to establish your own house rules, since the main idea of playing air hockey is to have fun. If house rules will preside over your air hockey table, be sure that both players know what they are and agree to them before facing off.
United States Air Hockey Association rules
The following is an interpretation of the standard rules of air hockey to get you started. For the complete list of rules and sanctioned equipment, consult the USAA's Web site.
1. A player may stand anywhere around the air hockey table on his or her side of the centerline. He/she may not stand past the centerline.
2. If any part of a player's hand, arm, body, or clothes touches the puck, a palming foul should be called. This is one of many very important rules.
3. The air hockey puck may be touched with any part of the mallet but the bottom surface.
4. The puck can't be topped by lifting the mallet and placing it on the top of the puck to slow or stop it while the puck is in play on the air hockey table. This can't be done at any time, either before a serve or during play. Any violation of this or other rules constitutes a foul. However, using the mallet to bring an airborne puck to the table or toward the opponent's goal is not considered a topping violation no matter which side or edge of the puck is contacted.
5. Only one puck can be in play at a given moment.
6. A player may use only one air hockey mallet on the playing surface at one time. A violation of this rule or other rules results in a foul. Players may choose how to hold the one air hockey mallet.
7. When the puck enters a player's goal, the puck must drop and remain in the goal in order for the goal to count. The player's opponent receives one point for a goal scored, unless the offensive player committed a foul-breaking the rules-during or prior to making the shot.
8. A player has seven (7) seconds to make a shot that crosses the centerline of the air hockey table. The rules state that the seven (7) seconds begin as soon as the puck enters and stays on that player's side of the centerline. A violation of this rule, like other rules, is a foul.
9. When the puck is in contact with any part of the centerline, either air hockey player is entitled to strike the puck.
10. The player who is scored upon receives possession of the puck for the next serve.
11. Rules state that when a player is scored upon, he/she has 10 seconds to remove the air hockey puck from the goal and place it in play. The 10 seconds start as soon as the puck has fallen entirely through the goal and is available for the player to place into play. This rule is suspended during a time-out.
12. A player may hand serve the puck (use his or her hand to set the puck in front of his or her mallet) only after he or she has been scored upon.
13. Rules entitle each player to take one timeout per game. The timeout may be no longer than 10 seconds.
14. A player may use his/her timeout only when the air hockey puck is in his/her possession or not in play.
15. A player must make a clear indication of a timeout so that the opponent understands the other player's intention.
16. The first player who scores seven (7) goals is the winner.
17. After each game is complete, players change table sides.