Air hockey is a game for two competing players trying to score points in the opposing player’s goal. The game requires an air-hockey table, two player-held mallets, and a puck.

  • Equipment
    • Air Hockey Table
      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 can be used to learn the game.

      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.

    • 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. Air Hockey pucks come in all many shapes. The shapes could be a triangle, hexagon, octogon and even a square.

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

  • History
    Air Hockey was invented by a group of Brunswick Billiards employees, including Bob Lemieux, from 1969 to 1972. In 1969, a trio of Brunswick engineers – Phil Crossman, Bob Kenrick, and Brad Baldwin – began working on the creation of a game utilizing a frictionless surface. The project stagnated for several years until it was revived by Lemieux, who then focused on implementing an abstracted version of Ice Hockey, with a thin disk, two mallets and slit-like goals equipped with photodetectors. It was then decided that the game might appeal to a larger market and Air Hockey was born. Who deserves credit for the invention is controversial. The original patents reference Crossman, Kenrick and Lemieux. It should also be noted that the air table proper had already been patented before Brunswick’s project, though for unrelated purposes.

    In any event, the game 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.

  • Tournament Results

    Year

    Champion

    Runner-up

    Third Place

    1978 Jesse Douty Phil Arnold Rolf Moore
    1979 Jesse Douty Phil Arnold Joe Campbell
    1980 Jesse Douty Phil Arnold Joe Campbell
    1980 Jesse Douty Robert Hernandez Mark Robbins
    1981 Bob Dubuisson Paul Burger Jesse Douty
    1981 Jesse Douty Bob Dubuisson Paul Marshall
    1982 Jesse Douty Mark Robbins Bob Dubuisson
    1983 Bob Dubuisson Jesse Douty Phil Arnold
    1984 Mark Robbins Robert Hernandez Bob Dubuisson
    1985 Bob Dubuisson Robert Hernandez Vince Schappell
    1985 Bob Dubuisson Robert Hernandez Mark Robbins
    1986 Robert Hernandez Bob Dubuisson Mark Robbins
    1986 Mark Robbins Bob Dubuisson Robert Hernandez
    1987 Robert Hernandez Jesse Douty Phil Arnold
    1987 Jesse Douty Mark Robbins Robert Hernandez
    1988 Jesse Douty Bob Dubuisson Robert Hernandez
    1988 Jesse Douty Bob Dubuisson Joe Campbell
    1989 Tim Weissman Bob Dubuisson Jesse Douty
    1989 Tim Weissman Jesse Douty Robert Hernandez
    1990 Tim Weissman Jesse Douty Robert Hernandez
    1990 Tim Weissman Phil Arnold Mark Robbins
    1991 Tim Weissman Mark Robbins Robert Hernandez
    1991 Tim Weissman Jesse Douty Albert Ortiz
    1992 Tim Weissman Robert Hernandez Mark Robbins
    1992 Tim Weissman Keith Fletcher Vince Schappell
    1993 Tim Weissman Andy Yevish Keith Fletcher
    1994 John Giraldo Mark Robbins Tim Weissman
    1995 Billy Stubbs Wil Upchurch Don James
    1996 Tim Weissman Wil Upchurch Andy Yevish
    1997 Wil Upchurch Tim Weissman Jesse Douty
    1999 José Mora Pedro Otero Jimmy Heilander
    2000 José Mora Pedro Otero Tim Weissman
    2001 Danny Hynes Tim Weissman José Mora
    2002 Danny Hynes Ehab Shoukry Billy Stubbs
    2003 Ehab Shoukry José Mora Andy Yevish
    2004 Danny Hynes Andy Yevish Anthony Marino
    2005 Danny Hynes Billy Stubbs Anthony Marino
    2006 Danny Hynes Wil Upchurch Davis Lee Huynh
    2007 Davis Lee Huynh Keith Fletcher Ehab Shoukry
    2008 Danny Hynes Ehab Shoukry José Mora
    2009 Ehab Shoukry Davis Lee Huynh Keith Fletcher
    2010 Davis Lee Huynh Billy Stubbs Anthony Marino
    2011 Danny Hynes Ehab Shoukry Billy Stubbs
    2011 Danny Hynes Ehab Shoukry Billy Stubbs

    US Championship [6]

    Year

    Champion

    Runner-up

    Third Place

    1983 Jesse Douty Mark Robbins Bob Dubuisson
    1984 Jesse Douty Phil Arnold Mark Robbins
    1998 José Mora Pedro Otero Tim Weissman
    2004 Danny Hynes Ehab Shoukry Don James
    2007 Wil Upchurch Davis Lee Huynh Keith Fletcher
    2009 Danny Hynes Ehab Shoukry José Mora

    European Championship [6]

    Year

    Champion

    Finalist

    Third Place

    2006 (Singles) Goran Mitic Michael L. Rosen José Luis Camacho[7]
    2007 (Singles) José Luis Camacho Sergey Antonov Sergio López
    2006 (Teams) Catalonia Czech Republic
    2007 (Teams) Russia Catalonia

    Texas State Open [6]

    Year

    Champion

    Runner-up

    Third Place

    1998 Tim Weissman Jose Mora Wil Upchurch
    2000 Jose Mora Danny Hynes Jimmy Heilander
    2002 Jose Mora Danny Hynes Anthony Marino
    2003 Anthony Marino Jose Mora Danny Hynes
    2004 Danny Hynes Ehab Shoukry Anthony Marino
    2005 Danny Hynes Ehab Shoukry Anthony Marino
    2007 Tim Weissman Vince Schappell Joe Cain
    2008 Danny Hynes Jimmy Heilander Syed Rahman

    Catalan Championship [6]

    Year

    Champion

    Runner-up

    Third Place

    2003 Pedro Otero Emilio Araujo Marc García[8]
    2004 Marc García Sergio López José Luis Camacho
    2005 José Luis Camacho Sergio López Marc García
    2006 José Luis Camacho Marc García Javi Navarro
    2007 Marc García Mauro Sturlese Javi Navarro
    2008 Sergio López José Luis Camacho Mauro Sturlese

    Russian Open [6]

    Year

    Champion

    Runner-up

    Third Place

    2006 Mauro Sturlese Igor Masloboev[9] Sergey Grishin
    2007 Dimitriy Butyrev Sergey Grishin Nikita Vaganov
    2008 Dimitriy Butyrev Vadim Chizhevskiy German Vargin

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