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Air Hockey Rules – How To Play The Game

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Air hockey is one of the oldest and finest arcade games you will find out there. If you are looking to get into playing some good ole fashioned air hockey (learn about the history of air hockey), you’ll want to acquaint yourself with some of the rules of getting started. Below, you’ll find some of the rules that you will need to adhere to when you look to get some good ole puck action in.

Related: What is the Difference Between Pool, Billiards, and Snooker?

Black man watching for game while woman preparing goalie malletKnow the Rules of Air Hockey


One of the things that you need to know going into air hockey is how you score. A player scores by getting the puck across the table and into the other player’s goal. The puck needs to fully go directly into the goal for the point to count. If a puck doesn’t cross and drop into the goal, it’s not counted as a goal. Therefore, the defending player could potentially stop a puck that halfway crosses the goal and have it not count.


A player wins the round of air hockey when they score 7 points on the opponent’s goal. The first player to 7 points in a round, takes the round. The game is typically played in the best of 7 rounds. Therefore, your goal as a player is to win a total of 4 of the 7 rounds. That is when you win the game.

Related: Read our comparison of the best air hockey tables with an electronic scoreboard, and let the table keep track for you.

Stay On Your Side

When you are playing the game, you must stay on your side of the table. You can position yourself anywhere behind the centerline. You cannot cross the centerline for any reason. If you cross the centerline, you are breaking the rules. However, anytime a puck is stuck at the centerline, you are eligible to hit it. Any puck that is sitting at the centerline is fair game to both players. You still cannot have your mallet crossing the centerline, but you can attack the puck when it’s positioned there. As mentioned, you can maneuver your body so you are on the side of the table if you need to reach the puck. You simply cannot cross the center of the table for any reason.

Only Use Mallets

You cannot touch the puck while it’s in play. You must use your mallet for everything. You also cannot use any other body parts to touch the puck or to block shots. Your mallet must be the only thing used for blocking and hitting your shots.

Two beautiful twin girls play air hockey in the game roomand have funNo Covering The Puck

One of the things that a lot of novice players try to do is cover the puck with their mallets. This is illegal. You cannot cover the puck with your mallet to center it or protect it. This is known as a topping and it’s not allowed in the game. You must move the puck with your mallet directly touching the table.

Related: See what we think is the Best Air Hockey Table with Ping Pong Top

After a Score

After a score, the opposing player serves the puck. They will be tasked with taking the puck out of their own goal and serving it. The opposing player always serves the puck. However, at the beginning of each round, the players take turns serving. Whoever served the last round will give up the next round to the other player.

Time Outs

Traditionally, each player is given a single timeout per round. This can be called in the middle of play for whatever reason whether they lose the mallet or otherwise.

Final Words

As you can see, the rules are fairly simple. The game is incredibly easy to understand and it can be a blast to play because of it. The rules are relatively straightforward if you are used to watching or playing other sports that have goals like hockey. The key to getting good with air hockey comes with getting familiar with how the puck moves and learning how to play defense and maintain possession. Once you learn how to play, you’ll quickly realize that the game comes to you fast. This is why it’s such a popular game played in arcades throughout the world. It’s a fast-paced game that has a lot of fun and excitement. As long as both players are playing the game fairly, it can be very competitive and entertaining for both players and onlookers.

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