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Air hockey is a game where 2 players play against each other on a low-friction table. Air hockey requires an air-hockey table, two player-held paddles, and a puck.
A typical air hockey table consists of large smooth playing surface, a surrounding rail to prevent the puck and paddles 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. An air hockey table has very little friction.
The only tables that are approved for play and sanctioned by the USAA (United States Air Hockey Association) for tournament play are 8-foot tables. Approved tables include all Gold Standard Games 8-foot tables; some 8-foot tables from Dynamo; and the original 8-foot commercial Brunswick tables. Other full-size novelty-type tables with flashing lights on the field of play, painted rails, and/or smaller pucks are not approved for tournament play but can be used to learn the game. For an updated list of sanctioned tables, consult the USAA rules at goldstandardairhockey.com, airhockey.com, or airhockeyworld.com.
A paddle (sometimes called a goalie, striker or mallet ) consists of a simple handle attached to a flat surface that will usually lie flush with the surface of the table. The most common paddles, called "high-tops", resemble small plastic sombreros, but other paddles, "flat-tops", are used with a shorter nub.
Air Hockey pucks are discs made of Lexan polycarbonate resin. Standard USAA-approved pucks are yellow, red, and green. In competitive play, a layer of thin white tape is placed on the face-up side. Air Hockey pucks come in circles and other shapes (triangle, hexagon, octagon, or square).
Four-player tables also exist, but they are not sanctioned for competitive play.
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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 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).
Air hockey was invented by a group of Brunswick Billiards employees from 1969 to 1972. In 1969, a trio of Brunswick engineers - Phil Crossman, Bob Kendrick, and Brad Baldwin - began work on creating a game using a frictionless surface. The project stagnated for several years until it was revived by Bob 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 marketed and sold to the general public. 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. In March 2015, the Air Hockey Players Association (AHPA) was announced and is providing air hockey players with an additional organization also overseeing the sport of air hockey. The two organizations run independently but abide by a similar set of rules and share many of the same players. In July 2015, the AHPA crowned not only its first world champion, but also the youngest in the history of the sport in Colin Cummings of Beaumont, TX. 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, San Diego, 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.
USAA World Championships 
|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|
|2007||Davis Lee||Keith Fletcher||Ehab Shoukry|
|2008||Danny Hynes||Ehab Shoukry||Jose Mora|
|2009||Ehab Shoukry||Davis Lee||Keith Fletcher|
|2010||Davis Lee||Billy Stubbs||Anthony Marino|
|2011||Danny Hynes||Ehab Shoukry||Billy Stubbs|
|2011||Danny Hynes||Ehab Shoukry||Billy Stubbs|
|2012||Billy Stubbs||Danny Hynes||Ehab Shoukry|
|2012||Billy Stubbs||Ehab Shoukry||Tim Weissman|
|2013||Danny Hynes||Davis Lee||Pedro Otero|
|2014||Billy Stubbs||Davis Lee||Danny Hynes|
|2015||Colin Cummings||Pedro Otero||Danny O'Brien|
AHPA World Championship 
|2015||Colin Cummings||Billy Stubbs||Danny O'Brien|
US Championship 
European Championship 
|2006 (Singles)||Goran Mitic||Michael L. Rosen||José Luis Camacho|
|2007 (Singles)||José Luis Camacho||Sergey Antonov||Sergio López|
|2006 (Teams)||Catalonia||Czech Republic|
Texas State Open 
Catalan Championship 
|2003||Pedro Otero||Emilio Araujo||Marc García|
|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 
|2006||Paulo "The Cannon" Lourenço||Igor Masloboev||Sergey Grishin|
|2007||Pedro Beles||Sergey Grishin||Nikita Vaganov|
|2008||Cláudio Barimbetche||Vadim Chizhevskiy||German Vargin|
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