In arcades, game rooms and bars, wherever one hears the battle cry, “Play puck!” what usually follows is a no-holds barred, full-throttle world of competition — the place where violent action and gut-dropping focus become one.
But what is air hockey? What are the game’s fundamentals? And why do we play?
Dubbed the fastest table sport in the world, air hockey combines physical control and mental discipline over a friction-less air surface that accelerates a 4oz. puck to top speeds of up to 70 mph — that’s fast! Players on either side of the table vie against each other in a game of wits and skill for control of the puck. Transitioning from an offensive striker to a defensive “brick wall” is paramount as the game moves forward, because ultimately, the game of air hockey is all about scoring goals.
But how does one do this effectively? The fundamentals of the sport are actually few and basic, and can be learned in only a few minutes. With just a pinch of proper technique and a natural understanding of economy-in-motion, any one can play air hockey. But don’t be fooled. Like anything else, mastering these fundamentals can take a lifetime. Combining a deadly offensive strategy with a sound defensive philosophy into a single, competitive understanding takes a combination of passion and persistence.
Inside the fiery competition of action-and-reaction, there’s a kind of calm that happens inside us, a hypnotic peace. A formula starts to present itself. Shoot. Defend. Don’t think. Feel. We find ourselves touching more than a mallet. And we find ourselves facing off against more than an opponent. Inside the cathartic world of air hockey — whether it’s a single game, a whole match, or even an entire tournament — we find our greatest adversary and our greatest fan. We find ourselves.
So, welcome to the world of finding yourself. Welcome to air hockey.
Come watch. Come play. Don’t blink.
Written by: Nick Keller, Professional Air Hockey Player