Air Hockey

Air hockey is a hockey-like game played on a table. The table provides a large, smooth playing surface and features a surrounding rail to stop the puck and mallets leaving the surface. Slots at either end of the rail serve as goals. Behind and below the goals, there is usually a puck return.
 
The name "air hockey" derives from the fact that tables typically feature machinery that creates an air cushion, to reduce friction and increase playing speed. Lower cost tables feature slick table surfaces and no air cushion, but technically play on these tables is not 'air hockey', since there is no air.
 
The game is played with a mallet (also called a goalie, striker, or paddle) consisting of a simple handle attached to a flat surface that will lie flush with the surface of the table. Mallets are often shaped like sombreros, but are also available as 'flat-tops', with a shorter nub.
 
A polycarbonate resin is used to make the slim discs used as air hockey pucks.
 
Currently, air hockey is a two-player game.  Four player tables exist, but are not yet officially approved for competitive play.
 
To win the game, an air hockey player must be first to score 7 points by shooting the puck into the opponent's goal. A point is counted when the puck breaks the horizontal plane inside the goal. If the puck crosses to your side of the centre line, you have 7 seconds to hit the puck back across the line, or a foul is committed and the other player gains possession of the puck.
 
Unlike field or ice hockey, air hockey rules do not allow touching the puck with anything other than the mallet. If the puck leaves the table after a player strikes it, a foul is declared and the other player gains possession.
 
Air hockey was invented around 1969 by three Brunswick engineers—Phil Crossman, Bob Kendrick, and Brad Baldwin.  The original patent cites Phil Crossman inventing the frictionless table surface.  
 
Air hockey achieved instant financial success.  The Houston Air Hockey Association was formed in 1973, and rules were codified. Tournaments began in Houston pubs.
 
The United States Air-Table Hockey Association was formed in 1975, and since then has sanctioned at least one national-level or World championship each year. It remains the only recognized worldwide player association, and maintains a close relationship with both event promoters and table manufacturers.
 
A close-knit community of serious players around the world now play air hockey.  Popular in many cities in the U.S.A., the sport also has extensive player bases  in Barcelona in Spain, Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Novgorod in Russia, and Brno in the Czech Republic.  Caracas, Venezuela was a hotbed of activity from the late 1980s, but most Venezuelan activity ceased by 1999.