Air Hockey Rules of Play - How to Play Air Hockey.


  • First player to score 7 points wins the game.
  • A point is scored when the puck enters and falls into the goal.
  • After a point is scored, the player scored upon receives possession of the puck for the next serve.


  • If any part of the puck is on the centerline, either player may hit it. If the puck is completely within one player's half of the table, not touching the centerline, the opposing player may not hit it. Violation of this rule constitutes a foul (forfeiture of possession of the puck).
  • It is a foul if a player's mallet completely crosses over the centerline.


  • When a player offensively strikes the puck and causes it to leave the playing surface, that player is guilty of a foul.
  • If, however, a puck leaves the table while a defensive player is blocking a shot, by moving his mallet sideways, backwards, or not at all, the offensive player is guilty of a foul and the defensive player is awarded possession of the puck.
  • If the defensive player charges forward to block a shot, and the puck leaves the table, the defensive player commits a foul and loses possession of the puck.


  • It is a foul for a player to lose total control of his mallet.


  • It is a foul for a player to "top" the puck by lifting his mallet and placing it on top of the puck.


  • It is a foul when a player's hand, body or clothing touches the puck while the puck is on the table and in play.


  • If a player's hand, body or clothing blocks or deflects the puck while the puck is on a direct path toward that player's goal, "goaltending" must be called. Goaltending constitutes a technical foul which allows the opponent a free shot at the penalized player's unprotected goal.


  • A player has 7 seconds to execute a shot that crosses the centerline. The 7 seconds begins when the puck enters and remains on that player's side of the centerline. First violation of this rule in a match is a warning; any subsequent violation is a foul.


  • If a player commits a foul and is scored on in the course of the same play, the goal counts and the penalty is nullified.
  • If a foul occurs and the innocent player immediately gains possession of the puck anyway, the referee should allow play to continue and not interrupt the game.


  • Mallets and pucks must meet standards of the U.S. Air Hockey Association (USAA).


  • Tournament play shall begin with a face-off. The winner of the face-off is the first player to gain possession, or the player who scores off the face-off. The player who loses the face-off receives possession of the puck to begin the 2nd game of the match, and first possession alternates each subsequent game of the match. Players also switch sides after each game.


  • Each game in tournament or challenge match play should be judged by a referee.
  • In addition to beginning a match, a face-off should be used when the referee can’t determine who committed the foul. The puck is placed flat at the center of the table, with player's mallets allowed no closer than 1 inch from the puck. On Gold Standard tables, the player's mallets must remain completely outside the center circle. When the referee releases the puck, both players may hit it.


  • Player committing a FOUL is penalized by loss of possession of the puck.
  • A TECHNICAL FOUL allows the penalized player's opponent one free shot at the player's unprotected goal. If the free shot misses, the puck is immediately in play.
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