Air hockey is a fun, fast-paced, and energetic sport that has steadily risen in popularity over the decades since its invention in the 1960s. Starting in the arcade space, air hockey tables have become readily available, with many now owning an at-home table for their game room.
If you’re a seasoned air hockey player, you might be looking for that special something to give you a competitive advantage over your opponents. You may also be looking for some top tips on learning new skills that will amaze your friends and family. Look no further as we round up 5 incredible air hockey tricks to impress your friends, from trick shots to tactics.
- The Chase Shot
If you want to confuse your opponent and get the upper hand, this trick shot is the one to try. This shot uses the rails to set things up and keeps the puck in a constant state of motion. This has the effect of confusing your fellow contestant. The aim of the game is to ensure that your opponent’s striker is far away, allowing the puck to glide easily down the center of the table.
First, hit the puck off of your rail, aiming for the other player’s corner. This sets up the shot. You then move swiftly from their corner to your corner. The puck should bounce a couple of times at the corner beside your goal. Once you have observed this, it should be in the ideal position to send it directly into your opponent’s goal in one swift move.
- The Casting Cut
Wait until the other player scores a goal. Then, take the puck from your goal, and you want to float the puck in a diagonal direction. You should be floating it in the exact opposite direction that you intend on scoring a goal from. While the puck is in the middle of drifting in the direction that you first sent it, grab your mallet and strike it straight into their goal’s opposite corner.
For example, if the puck is floating toward the right corner, aim for the left. This ends up leaving your opponent feeling confused as they are not expecting the sudden change of direction. It also takes advantage of their post-goal high when their defenses are lower and therefore gives you the upper hand.
- The One-Two
This trick shot is another one that aims to confuse the other player during play. Similarly to the chase shot, you use the air hockey table’s rails to set it up.
It consists of one shot straight after another in an attempt to put your opponent off their game. It will appear to the novice air hockey player as though you have made a mistake, and the puck is bouncing uncontrollably. However, executing is a strategic move whereby you hit the puck onto the rail and directly into their goal.
Firstly, aim to strike the puck towards the other player in the direction of one of the corners. The puck must then hit the top and then the bottom of that corner for this to work. Where your opponent might be thinking it was a shaky shot, you can dive in after the second bounce. If you do it right, you should be able to shoot it at the correct spot along the rail for it to bounce directly into the goal.
This one can take a little practice to get it just right. Ensure that you don’t slow down or stop the puck on its return, or the other player might be able to spot your tactics and throw you off.
If you want to master the art of air hockey trick shots, you’ll need to work on your technique and tactics. This enables you to pull off any stunt with ease as you master the control over the puck and perfect your skills.
- Drifting the Puck
You may think you have the hang of general gameplay; however, there is always work to be done when it comes to drifting. In simple terms, we’re speaking about gently sliding the puck in one direction or another. To drift, wait until the puck is slowly gliding across the air hockey table.
At this point, take aim and gently tap the puck into the opposite direction to its initial trajectory. This technique is key to perfecting the trick shots we mentioned earlier. The main thing you want to achieve with drifting is to make it seamless so that your opponent doesn’t have time to work out what is going on. Timing is critical with this tactic. You want to catch them off guard so you can make a swift shot on goal while their defenses are down.
- Maintaining a Strong Defense
Puck control is crucial, and performing trick shots to impress your friends is fun, but you also want to show off that you have a great defensive technique. Your defense is almost as important as your attack for making sure that you win the game.
You want to make sure that you don’t make the obvious error of holding your striker right in the center of your goal. This may seem like the best way to stop your opponent from scoring, but it leaves you vulnerable to trick shots from the other player and shots straight down the line.
There are various defense strategies out there, so it’s best to choose the one that works for you. The “triangle strategy,” which involves stationing your mallet about 4” out of your goal and moving your hand in a sweeping motion, aims to put you in the right defensive position against a straight shot. Practice a few different techniques when it comes to defense and see which one works best.
Get Ready to Show Off Your Skills
Once you have bumped up your defensive skills and perfected the art of drifting, you will be well on the way to becoming an air hockey master. As with everything, trick shots and impressive moves take work and plenty of patience, but it is all worth it to see the look on your friends’ faces when you score time after time!