Air hockey is an incredibly simple yet complex game. On the surface, your mission is to get the puck into the other person’s goal. While you wouldn’t necessarily think there are nuances to the game, there is a lot of complexity that goes into playing it competitively. If you are looking to step up your game and take your air hockey playing experience to the next level, you’ll want to follow along. In addition to the normal rules of the game, practicing effective offense (see our article on air hockey tricks and mastering the offense) and defense are critical to improving your game. By the end of this article, you’ll have all of the tactics to master to make you an incredibly competitive air hockey defender.
Tactics To Master While Playing Air Hockey Defense
Keep Your Eyes On The Prize
One of the most important things you should be doing when you are looking to step up your defense is to keep your eye on the puck at all times. This is something that a lot of people get wrong. You need to be able to effectively track the puck if you want to master your defense. The puck is going to bounce consistently. By learning how the puck bounces off the walls and predicting the bounce, you’ll be able to better position your mallet.
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A lot of new players will look to bring their mallet along with them while they are tracking the puck. This is a big no-no. Rather than using your mallet to track the ball, you need to be tracking it with your eyes. If you find yourself following the puck around with your air hockey mallet, you’ll be opening up a lot of room in front of your goal for a puck to enter.
Don’t Hold Your Mallet Directly In Front Of Your Goal
This is one of the things that a lot of new players do. After all, you’re trying to stop the puck from entering your goal. Many new players make the mistake of putting themselves directly in front (if not touching) the goal. While this may seem like a good idea, it’s not. Instead, you’ll want to try to position your mallet a good 10 to 15 inches in front of your goal. This way, you give yourself a lot more flexibility with which to move your mallet if needed. This can give you more flexibility to block shots that bounce off the sides.
A lot of new players look to lean over the table to try to give themselves more leverage as they are playing. While this may seem like a good strategy, it’s going to leave you vulnerable to a variety of things. One of the main things you’ll find increasingly difficult to do when you are learning forward is moving your mallet backward. The most important thing you should be paying attention to when attempting to play air hockey competitively is your defense. By leaning over the table, you’re putting yourself at an advantageous attack position at the cost of your defensive stance and positioning. Rather, you should be looking to prioritize your defensive positioning. This will allow you to play defense better and it will give you more opportunities to block shots that you would have otherwise let go in.
Adjust Your Defense
Another thing you need to be able to do when you are playing competitively is looking to adjust your play style. You need to be able to adapt to who you are playing. Every opponent isn’t going to be playing the same way. Thus, you need to be able to detect how they are playing and adjust your defense accordingly. See how your opponent is playing the game. What are they doing to set up their shots? This will give you a clear objective with your defense. A lot of players tend to have their favorite shots and they stick to a strategy that works for them. If you can identify it and adjust according to their attack strategy, you’ll set yourself up for success with your defense.
As you can see, there is a lot that goes into playing air hockey. By mastering your defensive tactics, you’ll be able to put yourself in the best position to play competitively and to win.