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Glossary of Air Hockey Terms
This page was last updated Monday, March 10, 2003 04:54 AM


Air Hockey A competitive game where players strike a puck, which floats above a table surface, into opponent's goals.  The term "Air Hockey" is owned by Brunswick Billiards; therefore alternative terms are becoming more common, such as "Air Table Hockey".
Bank shot When a player executes a shot that crosses the centerline and directs the puck into the left or right rail.
Block When a defensive player prevents an incoming puck from entering his/her goal by intercepting the puck with the mallet.
Centerline The horizontal line, visible on most tables, that divides both sides of the table into equal halves.
Challenge Match A match where one player challenges another player for rank.
Charge An interference defense where a player lunges forward as the opponent hits a shot across the centerline.
Chase shot When a player moves outward to strike a puck that has just rebounded off of his own back rail and is moving towards the centerline.
Combo When a player mixes up straights and banks while using the same release.
Cross-straight shot A type of straight shot that is launched from one side of the table, that crosses on the opposite side of the opponents goal.
Cut-shot A type of straight shot that is hit such that the perceived motion of the mallet and the direction of the puck are opposite.  This involves "slicing" the edge of the puck when making a shot.
Defense (Defender) The player that does not have possession of the puck.
Drift Refers to the controlled momentum of a puck on the attacker's side of the table.  Drifts are primarily used to disguise attacks, by releasing the puck at different points in the drift and by striking the puck at angles that differ from the drift.  The "Circle (diamond) drift" and "L-drift" are two of the more commonly used drifts.
In-Play / Out of play A condition where both players or referee assert that players can score.  During time-outs, penalties or fouls, the puck is out of play.
Interference A condition where a player is touched by an object or person during gameplay.
Interference defense A term which applies to aggressive maneuvering on defense for the purpose of getting the puck or scoring.  Typically, when an opposing player controls the puck, the defensive player may charge or chase off-goal shots.
Face-off A condition where a referee places the puck in the middle of the centerline, and both players attempt to either gain possession or score a quick goal.
Goal One of the two gaps on either side of the table, where points are scores.
Goal blocker A training device that is uses to cover part or all of one goal.  Players can then relentlessly practice shots "solo" without accidentally scoring on the opposite goal.
Goal tending A technical foul, where a player "palms" the puck when it's moving towards the goal.  Penalty is a single free shot from the opponent.
Lexan The material used to make Air Hockey pucks.
Mallet The device players use to strike a puck.  Sometimes referred to as strikers.  The most common arcade mallets are the traditional white high-tops.  There are also low-top mallets in a variety of materials which give more control or more speed.
Master Traditionally referring to any one of current top-10 nationally (world) ranked players.
Offense (Attacker) The player that is currently controlling the puck.
Off-goal When an offensive player directs the puck towards one of the opponents back-rail.  This is sometimes effective in setting up off-goal combinations where on the puck's return, it is quickly struck again on-goal.
Over (the centerline) "Over" is a penalty called when a player strikes the puck when it is completely on the opponents side of the centerline.  See USAA rules for more details about penalties.
Over the mallet Also referred to as "Overs", this refers to a type of bank shot that hits a side rail (wall), then crosses over (in front of) the opponents mallet and entering the opposite side of the goal.  See also "under the mallet".  LWO = Left-wall over.  RWO = Right-wall over.
Palming A foul, where a player places a hand, finger or other non-mallet object on top of the puck.
Puck The object players strike with the mallet in attempts to score a goal.  Pucks are make out of a material called "lexan" and are traditionally yellow, but other colors are available (red, fluorescent green and white).
Pump-fake When an attacker winds up and pretends to strike the puck, in order to freeze or move the opponent's defense.
Rail (Wall) One of the four metal beams that outline the table playing surface.
Release The motion a player makes as as the mallet strikes the puck.
Silencer An unsanctioned puck that is more quiet, when struck, then a traditional lexan puck.  The physics of a silencer puck compared to a traditional puck is significantly different.
Straight shot When a player executes a shot that moves the puck across the centerline towards the opponents goal and does not touch any rail.
Topping A foul, where players place their mallet on top of the puck, whether deliberate or accidentally.
Triangle defense A basic defense that players can use in order to block incoming pucks.  The name describes the possible placement positions of the mallet, which makes a triangle from two points on both sides of the goal and a single point about 1-foot in front of the goal.
Under the mallet Also referred to as "Unders", this refers to a type of bank shot that hits a side rail and enters the same side of the opponent's goal.  See also "over the mallet".  LWU = Left-wall under.  RWU = Right-wall under.
USAA United States Air Hockey Association.  A governing body who standardizes Air Hockey rules.