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Current World #1 Rank, Danny Hynes [1]

Air hockey is a game for two competing players trying to score points in the opposing player's goal.

Contents

Equipment

Air hockey requires an air-hockey table, two paddles, and a puck.

A typical air hockey table consists of a large smooth playing surface, a surrounding rail to prevent the puck and mallets from leaving the table, and slots in the rail at either end of the table that serve as goals. On the ends of the table behind and below the goals, there is usually a puck return. Additionally, tables will typically have some sort of machinery that produces a cushion of air on the play surface through tiny holes, with the purpose of reducing friction and increasing play speed. In some tables, the machinery is eschewed in favor of a slick table surface, usually plastic, in the interest of saving money in both manufacturing and maintenance costs. Note that these tables are technically not air hockey tables since no air is involved, however, they are still generally understood to be as such due to the basic similarity of gameplay. There also exist pucks that use a battery and fan to generate their own air cushion, but as they are prone to breakage, they are commonly marketed only as toys.

Air Hockey Mallet

Currently, the only tables that are approved for play and sanctioned by the USAA (United States Air-Table-Hockey Association) for tournament play are 8-foot tables manufactured by Dynamo. Approved tables include the Photon, Pro-Style, older Blue Top, Brown Top, Purple Top or Black Top with unpainted rails. The HotFlash 2 and other full-size commercial tables with neon lights and/or painted rails are not approved for USAA play but are still great tables on which to learn the games .

A mallet (sometimes called a goalie, striker or paddle) consists of a simple handle attached to a flat surface that will usually lie flush with the surface of the table. The most common mallets, called "high-tops", resemble small plastic sombreros, but other mallets, "flat-tops", are used with a shorter nub.

A group of five air hockey pucks

Air Hockey pucks are slim discs made of Lexan polycarbonate resin. Standard USAA-approved pucks are the yellow lexan, red lexan and the Dynamo green. In competitive play, a layer of thin white tape is placed on the face-up side.

Four-player tables also exist, but they are not yet sanctioned for competitive play.

Rules

One Common Grip

Here are some basic rules as defined by the USAA: [2]

  • A face-off or coin toss decides which player gets the first possession of the puck.
  • The first person to score 7 points by shooting the puck into the opponent's goal wins the game. When the puck breaks the horizontal plane inside the goal, a point is counted, whether or not captured by the electronic scoring device.
  • Once the puck is on a certain player's side of the center line, he/she has 7 seconds to hit the puck back across the center line. Otherwise a foul is committed and the opponent receives possession of the puck.
  • Placing one's mallet on top of the puck, known as topping, is a foul. Here the opponent receives possession of the puck.
  • A player cannot touch or strike the puck with any part of his/her body or with any object other than the mallet. Doing so causes a foul and possession changes hands.
  • If the puck is on a clear path into the goal and the player stops it with anything other than the mallet, this is goaltending. Here the opponent receives a free shot.
  • Hitting the puck when it is on the opposite side of the center line, or crossing the center line completely with one's mallet causes a foul. Here the opponent receives possession of the puck.
  • If the puck leaves the table, a foul is called on the player that caused the puck to go out of play due to offensive motion and the opposing player gets possession of the puck. Generally, when a player causes the puck to leave the table with a forward motion of the mallet, even defensively (known as charging), the foul is charged on them. An out of play foul results in the opponent receiving possession of the puck.
Another Common Grip

Gameplay

Competitive (tournament) play is usually distinguished by the following:

  • The mallet is gripped behind the knob using one's fingertips, not on top of it. This allows more wrist action and helps the player to move the mallet around the table faster.
  • For basic defense, the mallet is kept centered at least 8 inches out from the goal. In this position, very slight movements to the left and right will block virtually all straight shots. To block bank shots, one pulls back quickly to the corners of the goal. This is known as the "triangle defense".
  • Shots are often hit out of "drifts", where the puck travels in set patterns designed to throw off the opponent's expectations and timing. The most popular drifts are the "center", "diamond", "diagonal", and "L".
  • Shots are often organized into "combos", meaning groups of shots which are hit with the same apparent delivery but opposite directions, caused by hitting the puck at slightly different locations on the mallet. For example, a transverse motion of the right arm can lead to a "cut shot" to the left corner of the opponent's goal or a "right wall under" (bank off the right wall, into the right corner of the opponent's goal).

History

Although it was believed for many years to have been invented by a Brunswick Billiards employee named Bob Lemieux in 1972, Air Hockey was actually invented by a trio of Brunswick engineers - Phil Crossman, Bob Kendrick, and Brad Baldwin - who were attempting to create a game utilizing a frictionless surface, circa 1969. The project never got off the ground and was left in mothballs for several years, but Bob Lemeiux later resurrected the project and refined the design to a certain degree. Some accounts of the story claim that Lemieux played the game on the table using a round disk and square mallets. Doorbells were hooked up at each end with a photo sensor to signal a "goal". It was then decided that the "game" may appeal to a larger market and Air Hockey was born. How much of this is truth and how much of this is the result of gaps in the story being filled in over time through multiple storytellers may never be truly known, given that Lemieux died in the early 1990s. What is certain is that the original patent references Phil Crossman, who, along with the other engineers, pioneered the frictionless table surface[3][4] - and, almost by chance, created an instant classic.

Air Hockey was an immediate financial success, and by the mid-1970s there arose substantial interest in tournament play. As early as 1973, players in Houston had formed the Houston Air Hockey Association, and soon thereafter, the Texas Air-Hockey Players Association, codifying rules and promoting the sport through local tournaments at Houston pubs Carnabys, Damians,and the University of Houston. To ensure uniform play standards of the highest competitive quality, the United States Air-Table Hockey Association (USAA) was formed in 1975 by J. Phillip "Phil" Arnold, largely as an official sanctioning body. In this way, non-player friendly rules imposed by Brunswick corporation were rendered void, and the sport of Air Hockey was secured under the control of players since that time. Since its inception, the USAA has sanctioned at least one national-level or World championship each year, crowning 12 different champions over 30 years. The USAA remains at present the only recognized worldwide player organization for Air Hockey, and has maintained a close relationship with table manufacturers and event promoters over the years. Today, professional Air Hockey is played by a close-knit community of serious players around the world, with extensive player bases near Houston, San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, New York City, and Boston in the United States of America, Barcelona in Spain, Saint Petersburg, Moscow, and Novgorod in Russia, and Most and Brno in the Czech Republic. From the late 1980s, Caracas, Venezuela served as a hotbed of activity; three-time World Champion Jose Mora, and other finalists originated from there. By 1999 most of the Venezuelan activity had disappeared.

On 25 August 2007, the three inventors - Crossman, Kendrick, and Baldwin - attended the Texas State Tournament at the Southfork Hotel in Plano, Texas. It is the first appearance of the three together since the game was invented in 1969-1971.

Tournament history

World Championships [5]

Year Champion Runner-up Third Place
1978 Flag of the United States.svg Jesse Douty Flag of the United States.svg Phil Arnold Flag of the United States.svg Rolf Moore
1979 Flag of the United States.svg Jesse Douty Flag of the United States.svg Phil Arnold Flag of the United States.svg Joe Campbell
1980 Flag of the United States.svg Jesse Douty Flag of the United States.svg Phil Arnold Flag of the United States.svg Joe Campbell
1980 Flag of the United States.svg Jesse Douty Flag of the United States.svg Robert Hernandez Flag of the United States.svg Mark Robbins
1981 Flag of the United States.svg Bob Dubuisson Flag of the United States.svg Paul Burger Flag of the United States.svg Jesse Douty
1981 Flag of the United States.svg Jesse Douty Flag of the United States.svg Bob Dubuisson Flag of the United States.svg Paul Marshall
1982 Flag of the United States.svg Jesse Douty Flag of the United States.svg Mark Robbins Flag of the United States.svg Bob Dubuisson
1983 Flag of the United States.svg Bob Dubuisson Flag of the United States.svg Jesse Douty Flag of the United States.svg Phil Arnold
1984 Flag of the United States.svg Mark Robbins Flag of the United States.svg Robert Hernandez Flag of the United States.svg Bob Dubuisson
1985 Flag of the United States.svg Bob Dubuisson Flag of the United States.svg Robert Hernandez Flag of the United States.svg Vince Schappell
1985 Flag of the United States.svg Bob Dubuisson Flag of the United States.svg Robert Hernandez Flag of the United States.svg Mark Robbins
1986 Flag of the United States.svg Robert Hernandez Flag of the United States.svg Bob Dubuisson Flag of the United States.svg Mark Robbins
1986 Flag of the United States.svg Mark Robbins Flag of the United States.svg Bob Dubuisson Flag of the United States.svg Robert Hernandez
1987 Flag of the United States.svg Robert Hernandez Flag of the United States.svg Jesse Douty Flag of the United States.svg Phil Arnold
1987 Flag of the United States.svg Jesse Douty Flag of the United States.svg Mark Robbins Flag of the United States.svg Robert Hernandez
1988 Flag of the United States.svg Jesse Douty Flag of the United States.svg Bob Dubuisson Flag of the United States.svg Robert Hernandez
1988 Flag of the United States.svg Jesse Douty Flag of the United States.svg Bob Dubuisson Flag of the United States.svg Joe Campbell
1989 Flag of the United States.svg Tim Weissman Flag of the United States.svg Bob Dubuisson Flag of the United States.svg Jesse Douty
1989 Flag of the United States.svg Tim Weissman Flag of the United States.svg Jesse Douty Flag of the United States.svg Robert Hernandez
1990 Flag of the United States.svg Tim Weissman Flag of the United States.svg Jesse Douty Flag of the United States.svg Robert Hernandez
1990 Flag of the United States.svg Tim Weissman Flag of the United States.svg Phil Arnold Flag of the United States.svg Mark Robbins
1991 Flag of the United States.svg Tim Weissman Flag of the United States.svg Mark Robbins Flag of the United States.svg Robert Hernandez
1991 Flag of the United States.svg Tim Weissman Flag of the United States.svg Jesse Douty Flag of the United States.svg Albert Ortiz
1992 Flag of the United States.svg Tim Weissman Flag of the United States.svg Robert Hernandez Flag of the United States.svg Mark Robbins
1992 Flag of the United States.svg Tim Weissman Flag of the United States.svg Keith Fletcher Flag of the United States.svg Vince Schappell
1993 Flag of the United States.svg Tim Weissman Flag of the United States.svg Andy Yevish Flag of the United States.svg Keith Fletcher
1994 Flag of the United States.svg John Giraldo Flag of the United States.svg Mark Robbins Flag of the United States.svg Tim Weissman
1995 Flag of the United States.svg Billy Stubbs Flag of the United States.svg Wil Upchurch Flag of the United States.svg Don James
1996 Flag of the United States.svg Tim Weissman Flag of the United States.svg Wil Upchurch Flag of the United States.svg Andy Yevish
1997 Flag of the United States.svg Wil Upchurch Flag of the United States.svg Tim Weissman Flag of the United States.svg Jesse Douty
1999 Flag of Venezuela 1930-2006.svg José Mora Flag of Venezuela 1930-2006.svg Pedro Otero Flag of the United States.svg Jimmy Heilander
2000 Flag of Venezuela 1930-2006.svg José Mora Flag of Venezuela 1930-2006.svg Pedro Otero Flag of the United States.svg Tim Weissman
2001 Flag of the United States.svg Danny Hynes Flag of the United States.svg Tim Weissman Flag of Venezuela 1930-2006.svg José Mora
2002 Flag of the United States.svg Danny Hynes Flag of the United States.svg Ehab Shoukry Flag of the United States.svg Billy Stubbs
2003 Flag of the United States.svg Ehab Shoukry Flag of Venezuela 1930-2006.svg José Mora Flag of the United States.svg Andy Yevish
2004 Flag of the United States.svg Danny Hynes Flag of the United States.svg Andy Yevish Flag of the United States.svg Anthony Marino
2005 Flag of the United States.svg Danny Hynes Flag of the United States.svg Billy Stubbs Flag of the United States.svg Anthony Marino
2006 Flag of the United States.svg Danny Hynes Flag of the United States.svg Wil Upchurch Flag of the United States.svg Davis Lee Huynh
2007 Flag of the United States.svg Davis Lee Huynh Flag of the United States.svg Keith Fletcher Flag of the United States.svg Ehab Shoukry
2008 Flag of the United States.svg Danny Hynes Flag of the United States.svg Ehab Shoukry Flag of Venezuela (state).svg José Mora
2009 Flag of the United States.svg Ehab Shoukry Flag of the United States.svg Davis Lee Huynh Flag of the United States.svg Keith Fletcher

US Championship [6]

Year Champion Runner-up Third Place
1983 Flag of the United States.svg Jesse Douty Flag of the United States.svg Mark Robbins Flag of the United States.svg Bob Dubuisson
1984 Flag of the United States.svg Jesse Douty Flag of the United States.svg Phil Arnold Flag of the United States.svg Mark Robbins
1998 Flag of Venezuela 1930-2006.svg José Mora Flag of Venezuela 1930-2006.svg Pedro Otero Flag of the United States.svg Tim Weissman
2004 Flag of the United States.svg Danny Hynes Flag of the United States.svg Ehab Shoukry Flag of the United States.svg Don James
2007 Flag of the United States.svg Wil Upchurch Flag of the United States.svg Davis Lee Huynh Flag of the United States.svg Keith Fletcher
2009 Flag of the United States.svg Danny Hynes Flag of the United States.svg Ehab Shoukry Flag of Venezuela 1930-2006.svg José Mora

European Championship [7]

Year Champion Finalist Third Place
2006 (Singles) Flag of the United States.svg Goran Mitic Flag of the United States.svg Michael L. Rosen Flag of Catalonia.svg José Luis Camacho[8]
2007 (Singles) Flag of Catalonia.svg José Luis Camacho Flag of Russia.svg Sergey Antonov Flag of Catalonia.svg Sergio López
2006 (Teams) Flag of Catalonia.svg Catalonia Flag of the Czech Republic.svg Czech Republic
2007 (Teams) Flag of Russia.svg Russia Flag of Catalonia.svg Catalonia

Texas State Open [9]

Year Champion Runner-up Third Place
1998 Flag of the United States.svg Tim Weissman Flag of the United States.svg Chris Garnett Flag of the United States.svg Wil Upchurch
2000 Flag of Venezuela 1930-2006.svg Jose Mora Flag of the United States.svg Danny Hynes Flag of the United States.svg Jimmy Heilander
2002 Flag of Venezuela 1930-2006.svg Jose Mora Flag of the United States.svg Danny Hynes Flag of the United States.svg Anthony Marino
2003 Flag of the United States.svg Anthony Marino Flag of Venezuela 1930-2006.svg Jose Mora Flag of the United States.svg Danny Hynes
2004 Flag of the United States.svg Danny Hynes Flag of the United States.svg Ehab Shoukry Flag of the United States.svg Anthony Marino
2005 Flag of the United States.svg Danny Hynes Flag of the United States.svg Ehab Shoukry Flag of the United States.svg Anthony Marino
2007 Flag of the United States.svg Tim Weissman Flag of the United States.svg Vince Schappell Flag of the United States.svg Joe Cain

Catalan Championship [10]

Year Champion Runner-up Third Place
2003 Flag of Venezuela 1930-2006.svg Pedro Otero Flag of Venezuela 1930-2006.svg Emilio Araujo Flag of Catalonia.svg Marc García[11]
2004 Flag of Catalonia.svg Marc García Flag of Catalonia.svg Sergio López Flag of Catalonia.svg José Luis Camacho
2005 Flag of Catalonia.svg José Luis Camacho Flag of Catalonia.svg Sergio López Flag of Catalonia.svg Marc García
2006 Flag of Catalonia.svg José Luis Camacho Flag of Catalonia.svg Marc García Flag of Catalonia.svg Javi Navarro
2007 Flag of Catalonia.svg Marc García Flag of Catalonia.svg Mauro Sturlese Flag of Catalonia.svg Javi Navarro
2008 Flag of Catalonia.svg Sergio López Flag of Catalonia.svg José Luis Camacho Flag of Catalonia.svg Mauro Sturlese

Russian Open [12]

Year Champion Runner-up Third Place
2006 Flag of Catalonia.svg Mauro Sturlese Flag of Russia.svg Igor Masloboev[13] Flag of Russia.svg Sergey Grishin
2007 Flag of Russia.svg Dimitriy Butyrev Flag of Russia.svg Sergey Grishin Flag of Russia.svg Nikita Vaganov
2008 Flag of Russia.svg Dimitriy Butyrev Flag of Russia.svg Vadim Chizhevskiy Flag of Russia.svg German Vargin

External links

References








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