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frequently asked questions
So you're new to Air Hockey, and you want to find out as much about Air Hockey as possible. You've come to the right place. Below I'll address a few of the Frequently Asked Questions that newcomers to the sport might have. If there are any questions that you would like answered that aren't on here, chances are the question has been answered on our forums, and if not our users are usually very gracious about helping people out, so feel free to ask away!

Are there other players or air hockey tournaments in my area? How do I start my own competitions?
What's the best way to clean my table?
Which table should I buy?
How do I find out my password?
Is AirHockeyWorld.com looking to sell advertising space?

Is Air Hockey really a competitive sport?
Why do people play competitive Air Hockey?
What is a tournament like?
What can Air Hockey teach me?
Where can I play?
How do skill levels work?
How do I play competitive Air Hockey?
How can I get more information about Air Hockey?

Are there other players or air hockey tournaments in my area? How do I start my own competitions? (top)
The first thing to do is to look in the "The Local Scene" forum here to see if other players in your area have posted a message. If not, create a new post saying that you're looking for air hockey players in your area. Have people send you an email or a PM if they're interested, and hopefully you'll get some bites.

Also, read up on the USAA rules here. Most of the rules are common sense, but you may learn something new! Figuring out how tournament air hockey is played ahead of time will help you if you ever want to play in a national tournament, and could help keep you from developing bad habits like stopping the puck with the bottom of your mallet (yes, that's against the rules!)

What you may also try to do (if you haven't already) is to get permission to post a flyer at whatever establishment has the air hockey table that you play on, and advertise an air hockey tournament a couple of weeks in advance. Then when the day comes, see how many people show up, or put your email address on the flyer "for more information, contact...", and see what kind of response you get. If anything, you may be able to find a couple of people that are as interested in air hockey as you are. If you get some good consistent turnouts and the establishment is smart, they'd offer to kick in a little prize money for a regularly scheduled tournament if the attendance is good, because they're going to make quite a bit of money from that many people playing air hockey.

Also, if you start getting regular turnouts, send me a PM, and I'll post something on the AHW website promoting the tournament!

What's the best way to clean my table? (top)
The best way to clean the surface is with isopropyl alcohol and paper towels or shop towels on a running table. Either spray it on the table surface with a spray bottle, or cover most of the bottle's mouth with your thumb and shake a little bit of it on the table at a time, so as not to use too much at once. Dry it off immediately with the towels, so that the alcohol doesn't soak up into the table surface. One thing to note: do not clean the inside of the table rails! The dirt and grime on the inside of the rails actually helps keep the puck from flying off the table. It sounds weird, but it's true - the puck will fly off a lot more frequently on a table with clean rails.

Which table should I buy? (top)
If you want to play on a table that's approved for USAA tournament play, then any 8-foot-long Dynamo air hockey table will suffice (such as the Pro-Style or the Photon), with the exception of the "Hot Flash" series. The painted rails make the puck fly off a lot, and flourescent table-top makes it hard to see the puck. A new Dynamo table will probably run you $1500-2500, but you might get lucky by checking Craigslist or Ebay. If you can find a table in your local area, all the better, as shipping's usually pretty expensive.

If you're looking for something a lot cheaper or smaller, then AirHockeyWorld doesn't really have any recommendations, as we focus primarily on tournament air hockey play. Sorry!

How do I find out my password? (top)

Go here to have your password emailed to the email address that is on file for your username.

Is AirHockeyWorld.com looking to sell advertising space? (top)
You bet! Whether you're looking for a text link on a specific page or a full-blown banner ad on the right side of the website, airhockeyworld.com can help meet your advertising needs.

If you would like to help sponsor AirHockeyWorld.com and wish to have your company displayed on our website for thousands of air hockey aficionados to see, we would love to hear from you! Please send an email to us at admin@airhockeyworld.com and we will respond as soon as possible.

Is Air Hockey really a competitive sport? (top)
Most definitely. There is a large group of players that consider themselves among the "elite" in Air Hockey skill. We are always open to new players; in fact, the reason for this website is to try and make more people aware how fun and intense competitive Air Hockey can be. There is at least one World Championship a year, and state-level tournaments in several states where the player base is high. If you're looking for a sport where dedicated practice will give you a good chance of being among the top players of a sport, now's your chance! But be warned, the top players are VERY good, so there's a lot of learning to be done. If you want to see a list of the past tournament winners, check out the Major Tournaments page!

Why do people play competitive Air Hockey? (top)
For the same reason people play competitive Billiards or Table Tennis. We enjoy competition, the thrill of victory, and the chance to meet new people who play the sport. There is a lot more strategy, strength, and mental ability involved to becoming an Air Hockey master than meets the eye. You have to know your opponent's strengths, weaknesses, tendencies and vunerabilities, and then be able to physically execute a strategy to take advantage of that knowledge. It's a lot of fun, and a very addictive sport for those who take the time to learn the basics.

What is a tournament like? (top)
Most tournaments are double-elimination, and the bigger tournaments have "Spinoff tournaments." What that means is that if you get eliminated from the main tournament, you then compete in a tournament bracket with all of the other players that got eliminated at the same time as you did. This serves two purposes- the players get more match play for their money against players of roughly the same skill level, and it helps to determine the overall ranking of players who "tie" because of where they finished in the main tournament.

In local tournaments (also called "Weeklies"), there aren't Spinoffs, but there are always practice games that are played before and after the tournament, allowing players to hone in their skill and get warmed up for the tournament. Weeklies usually last 3-4 hours, and are a way for newcomers to get to know the Air Hockey veterans. As ambassadors of the sport, we try to help new players learn the fundamentals, so don't be afraid to ask us for advice!

What can Air Hockey teach me? (top)
Mental stamina, sharp reflexes, hand-eye coordination, strategy, fair play, and creativity are a few of the things that can be learned while playing Air Hockey. Trust me, there's a lot more to this sport than just hitting a puck around a table!

Where can I play? (top)
If you want to play competitively, there are a few weekly tournaments that are already taking place. For Texas weeklies, refer to the Weeklies webpage for the scoop on where to play. If you want to start up your own tournaments, start by seeing if a location with a couple tables will allow you to post a flier for a tournament. Give a couple week's notice, and see if anyone shows up that wants to play. You never know, there might be more people interested in playing than you think! Be sure to let us (the Air Hockey community) know about it, so that we can add you amongst our ranks!

How do skill levels work? (top)
We currently categorize our players into 7 groups. We use these groupings to set up handicaps for the weekly tournaments in order to make the matches more exciting (and to make the better players work harder!)

Beginner (Level 0) - Beginners usually can be spotted by the way they hold the mallet with their hand over the top. These players are brand new to the sport, or haven't had much experience with competitive play.

Novice (Level 1) - Novices have a better understanding of the general strategy of offense, but defense and puck-handling usually still needs a lot of work. Winning your first weekly tournament as a Beginner will almost always promote you to a Novice.

Amateur (Level 2) - Amateurs can control the puck and have decent offense, but they still have holes in their defense that most skilled players can exploit.

Expert (Level 3) - Experts start honing in their defense, and lose the puck a lot less than Amateurs. They learn the value of puck possession, and can execute a couple of offensive shots fairly well. The major lacking quality is consistancy - Experts will have good and bad streaks.

Professional (Level 4) - Professionals have fairly consistant defense, and have expanded their offense to include both side rails. Mental endurance is developing, and puck control is there. Pros (and sometimes Experts) will start to examine the other players for weaknesses, and learn how to adapt their offense to break through their opponent's defense.

Master (Level 5) - Few people attain this level of play. Shots are crisp, accurate, and consistant. Defense is solid and consistant. Shot selection varies enough to prevent the opponent from predicting on defense. Masters are hard to beat, even with luck. Masters are usually the "dark horses" for winning a World Championship.

Grandmaster (Level 6) - There are only a couple players that have obtained this ranking, two of them have won multiple World Championships. They can beat the Masters more often than not, and are usually a threat to win a World Championship.

In Houston, we use the Levels to determine how many points someone has to spot in each game. So if you were to come into a Weekly as a Beginner and you had to play an Expert, he would have to spot you three points each game (the difference between your skill levels). Each game would start out 3-0 in your favor, and the first to get to 7 points wins the game.

People are promoted by the Weekly tournament directors based upon Weekly and Major tournament performance. The general rule is that if someone can beat most of the people in their skill level, they need to be promoted. This method has been working pretty well, and has kept the handicapping fair for everyone.

How do I play competitive Air Hockey? (top)
If you're ready to learn, you're in luck! Check out the How to Play section of the website, in which I will try and teach you the basic strategies of competitive Air Hockey. Keep tuning in to www.AirHockeyWorld.com to learn more!

How can I get more information about Air Hockey? (top)
If you want to find out more about Air Hockey, then the best way is to Join the Website! By joining AirHockeyWorld.com, you gain access to Air Hockey chat forums, polls, and online registration to Air Hockey events! Plus, we will make sure you are up to date with the latest Air Hockey news and information. Join today, it's easy (and free.. how can you beat that?!)