Is Air Hockey a Sport?
Yes Air Hockey is a sport.
Air hockey is officially a competitive sport. It can be played in either singles or doubles. To play doubles, alternate players of a team, play after that team has been scored upon.
The Air Hockey World Championships
Every year one or more national-level or world championship tournaments take place, sanctioned by two independent governing bodies; the United States Air-Table Hockey Association (USAA) and the Air Hockey Players Association (AHPA).
Both USAA and AHPA tournaments are open to all skill levels. Anyone can take part and players who finish the tournament earn a World Ranking.
- To get a USAA World Ranking you will need to register after which, you will be given the default, “beginner-level” rating. You can achieve a world ranking by playing in a sanctioned tournament or by challenging another USAA rated player to a sanctioned match.
- To get an AHPA World Ranking you need to register for the challenge ladder. New players are allowed one open challenge. If they win, they are ranked in that sport, if they lose, they start back at the beginning.
The current World Champion is Colin Cummings from Beaumont, TX. Colin is also the winner of seven previous world championships. In 2015 at just 16 years of age, Colin became a world record holder as the youngest air hockey world champion. At the time of his achievement, Colin had been playing the game for just 6 years. In the current USAA World Ranking, his teacher (and neighbor), professional air hockey player, Brian Accrocco ranked in 5th position:
USAA World Air Hockey Championships
Top ten ranking players – date: 4/9/2021
|7||Justin Flores||New York|
AHPA Air Hockey World Championships
Top ten ranking players – dates: 1/1/2017 – 12/31/2020
When Did Air Hockey Become a Competative Sport?
Although the true origins of Air Hockey are still much debated, the “Air Hockey” game as we know it, was invented by Phil Crossman, Bob Kenrick, Bob Lemieux, and Brad Baldwin who were all employees of Brunswick Billiards in 1969. Bob Lemieux was the first to recognize the commercial potential for Air Hockey and the patent was applied for in 1971.
The game very quickly transitioned from being an informal fun activity to a competitive sport. As early as 1973, enthusiastic players in Houston formed the Houston Air Hockey Association in order to regulate official local tournaments. Not long after, the Texas Air-Hockey Players Association was established.
The United States Air-Table Hockey Association (USAA)
In 1975 the United States Air-Table Hockey Association (USAA) was formed by Phil Arnold, to provide an official sanctioning body and ensure the uniformity of playing standards, rules and procedures.
The association promotes both amateur and professional Air Hockey as a competitive sport. It also publishes player rankings and collect records so that the history of the sport will be documented.
Air Hockey Players Association (AHPA)
In 2015 an additional organization, the Air Hockey Players Association (AHPA) was announced as an additional governing body. The two organizations are independent but share similar rules and procedures.
Approved Equipment for Sanctioned Events
If you you are interested in playing air hockey at competition level. Here is the list of approved equipment that you will need to gain experience using:
USAA Approved Air Hockey Tables for Sanctioned Events
The only approved air hockey tables sanctioned by the USAA for tournaments are 8-foot tables. These include:
- Most Gold Standard Games (coin and home).
- Some Dynamo models (coin and home).
- Brunswick (coin model).
Only “high-top” mallets are approved for tournaments and they must comply with the following standards:
- Maximum Weight – 6 oz.
- Maximum Diameter – 4-1/16″.
- Color – The outside rim must be of a different color than the table surface.
- Material – Consistent uniform and symmetrical throughout.
Pucks must have at least one layer of white plastic tape on the top side. More than one layer may be added if both players agree.
- Lexan yellow (to used unless both players agree to use another puck).
- Lexan red.
- Dynamo green.
Could Air Hockey Ever Become an Olympic Sport?
While hockey, ice hockey, badminton, and table tennis all make the sanctioned list of Olympic sports, Air Hockey isn’t, at present, an Olympic sport.
Strict rules govern whether a sport can be included in the Olympic Games and there are some prohibitory factors that would prevent air hockey from being included.
The most likely main reason being that the sport is not widely enough practiced. Here’s a direct quote from the Britannica.
“a sport must be widely practiced by men in at least 75 countries and on four continents and by women in no fewer than 40 countries and on three continents”. –
Additionally, the Olympic Charter states that there must be an International Federation for each sport included in the Olympic Games. Air Hockey would need an International Federation in place in order for it to be considered by the Olympic committee.
It’s sad that the game hasn’t gained the worldwide recognition it deserves. Air hockey along with other “real life” games has been sidelined by the rise of online gaming. Yet I’ve never met anyone who’s played the game and not enjoyed playing it. It’s also exciting to watch.
So just for the pleasure of seeing air hockey in action, here’s the Air Hockey Party Animals vs 2 Wise Men playing in the Houston World Championship Doubles: