2016 USAA Worlds!

The USAA’s 2016 World Air Hockey Championships were completed on Dec.
2-4 in Houston, TX. The site was the University Wellness Center at the University of Houston.

Colin Cummings, the 17-year-old phenom from Beaumont, TX, continued his
winning ways by defeating veteran contenders decades older than him
enroute to winning his 2nd USAA World title. Putting Colin into the
losers bracket but succumbing in the finals was 11-time World Champion
Danny Hynes of Houston. Danny pulled off an amazing comeback from down 3 games to zero in the winners bracket finals. But Colin upped his level in the finals and Danny was unable to hang with him as Colin rolled off two sets to take the championship. Third place went to Brian Accrocco of Houston, followed by Pedro Otero of Caracas, Venezuela. Rounding out the top 5 was Marcelo Garcia, also of Caracas.

The Friday night Doubles competition was won by Brian Quezada and Dan
Meyer of Chicago, aka Puck Buddies. Sarah Weissman of Houston captured the Women’s title, and Ben Ebers of the University of Houston won the special handicap
(point spot) tournament.

For a complete list of finishers, go to the Forums section of airhockey.com and click on Tournaments and Events.

Top finishers

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Colin Cummings

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2016 Air Hockey World Championships!

The 2016 USAA World Championships are scheduled for Dec. 2-4 at the University of Houston in Houston, TX. Last year’s championships drew a record turnout, and the top contenders will again descend on Houston to compete for the coveted title of USAA World Champion! The main tournament, on Saturday and Sunday, is open to players of all skill levels. Friday will feature the traditional Doubles competition, also open to all players.

For more information, go to http://www.airhockey.com. Registration will open soon. This event will be the 56th National/World championship sanctioned by USAA since the first one in 1978. Look for more details posted here as they become available.

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Oregon Air Hockey!

Air hockey is growing in Oregon thanks to an expanding player base in Eugene and Portland, support from game operating company Amusement Unlimited, and a special promotion conducted by Gold Standard Games! On May 20 YNOT Have Fun Bar & Grill in Portland hosted a “Challenge the Champ” exhibition featuring 2-time world champion Mark Robbins, owner of Gold Standard Games. A good time was had by all as Robbins demonstrated basic techniques of air hockey and wiped out all challengers. YNOT owner Josh Johnson was pleased with the interest in air hockey and may be putting together regular tournaments in the near future. YNOT Have Fun features two USAA-sanctioned Gold Flare Elite tables plus many other games, and excellent food and drink. For directions, hours and other info go to http://www.ynothavefun.com.

Pics: Mark Robbins taking on a challenger; Robbins with Gabe Garboden, a high school student from Eugene who is the top-rated air hockey player in Oregon; and Robbins with the lovely Aerynn Mielke of Amusement Unlimited.

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Midwest Gaming Classic

For the second year in a row, Gold Standard Games brought the sport of air hockey to the Midwest Gaming Classic, held in April in Milwaukee. The Gaming Classic features mostly pinball and video games, and attracts thousands of gamers as well as families to the annual event. Air hockey has become very popular at the Classic, with people playing on the two Gold Standard tables virtually non-stop throughout the weekend. “Challenge the Champ” exhibitions were conducted by  Mark Robbins, a 2-time World Champion, and Dan Meyer, the 7th place finisher at last year’s USAA Worlds.

For more info on the event, go to http://www.midwestgamingclassic.com

Dan Meyer (near side) showing how it’s done

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Mark Robbins (in Air Hockey shirt) takes on a challenger

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Professional Air Hockey Trick Shots

Mark Robbins, 2-time World Champion and owner of Gold Standard Games, demonstrates some trick shots that are actually used by elite-level players, and that you can incorporate into your own game! Included are the one-two, the casting cut shot, and the moving puck/chase shot.

Posted in Instructional Videos

World Championships live streaming video

Go to http://www.airhockey.com, click on “stream” in the menu at top of page. Sat. Oct. 17, 1 pm to 11 pm CT, Sun. Oct. 18, noon-7 pm.

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Classic Air Hockey: Robbins Vs Hernandez 1983 TX State

7th game, ’83 TX State at Barney’s in Houston. The audio is distorted due to a failing video camera, but the sound seems to add to the effect in this wild and intense match between the two fastest players in the game at that time.

Posted in Historical Videos

2015 USAA World Air Hockey Championships!

The 2015 USAA World Air Hockey Championships are scheduled for Oct. 16-18 in Houston, TX! The beautiful TDECU Stadium at the University of Houston is the site for the tournament, which celebrates the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Air Hockey Association, and is the 55th Worlds/Nationals sanctioned by the USAA since 1978! All players from everywhere, of all skill levels, are eligible to compete against the world’s best. The main singles event on Sat./Sun. features quadruple-elimination for most players, with spinoff divisions. Sponsored by Gold Standard Games and other companies, the tournament awards cash, trophies, and other prizes. Players in the main event receive a souvenir T-shirt and every player receives a USAA World Ranking based on finish!

The traditional doubles championship event will take place on Friday. There will be videos and other memorabilia commemorating 40 years of USAA air hockey! Most of the world’s very best players will be attending this tournament – don’t miss it! For more information, go to http://www.airhockey.com.

2015 Worlds flyer - GSG

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Breath of Fresh Air-Hockey League Program – college version

Breath of Fresh Air-Hockey – College version 3

Posted in Player Resources

Air Hockey Basics – Under-the-mallet Banks

by Jacob Weissman

For this article I write from the perspective of a right-handed player, as I and most players are right-handed. If you are one of those rare, left-handed unicorns, simply think of my right hand as your left hand. For example, if I am talking about my right-wall banks those are essentially the same to me as your left-wall banks are to you.

There are two basic shots in the game of Air Hockey, the straight shot and the bank shot. Today I am going to focus on the bank shot. In its simplest form a bank shot is: any shot which bounces off of a rail of the Air Hockey Table.

When it comes to bank shots there are two basic types, an over-the-mallet bank shot (over) and an under-the-mallet bank shot (under). Today I am focusing on unders.

Unders:

The under-the-mallet bank shot is a fundamental Air Hockey shot. It is the quickest and most effective way to score underneath a mallet which is positioned in the middle of a goal to block a straight shot. An effective under-the-mallet bank should bounce only off of one rail (left or right) before entering the opponent’s goal. The reasoning for this is because of the purpose of unders. If we are trying to score under our opponent’s mallet, then we need our shot to score before our opponent can pull back and block our shot. Logically then, we want to send the puck on the shortest path to our opponents goal. In this case, the shortest path for a bank is from one rail to the goal, and not from one rail to another and then to the goal (aka. A double bank). The less time it takes for the puck to approach our opponent’s goal, the more likely we are to score.

To make the puck bounce off of the wall of our choice and under our opponent’s mallet, we must hit the puck at a steep angle with the rail. To best practice this, place a goal blocker or mallet over the goal corner closest to the rail you are using, and hit the puck until you get the angle down. Remember we want the puck to enter the closest corner of the goal. It may be difficult to get the right angle down, but, with enough practice, striking the rail in the right area becomes intuitive, locked down in muscle memory.

Once you feel comfortable with this angle, you then need to add the necessary power to the shot. Not only do we want the puck to enter the closest corner of our opponent’s goal, but we want the puck to do so quickly. A mistake many players make is attempting to create this power by lunging at the puck with their arm. This is ineffective for a couple of reasons. For starters it is too much power, and tends to knock the puck off the table, resulting in a wasted shot and, worse, a wasted possession. Secondly, in my experience, it is particularly difficult to aim with the arm. The shots that do not fly off of the table are just as likely to hit the rail at an unpredictable angle and miss the corner of our opponent’s goal, landing softly in the center of their mallet instead. While some arm motion is important to generate the force needed to drive an under home, for the reasons aforementioned, too much arm makes a shot unwieldy. For this reason, pro level players use their wrist to create much of the power necessary for a quick under, while maintaining the shot’s accuracy.

To strike the puck with a “wrist-powered” shot, simply snap your wrist in the direction you wish the puck to go as your mallet comes into contact with the puck. Done correctly, this snap of the wrist will give the puck enough energy to sail quickly into your opponent’s goal.

As there are two rails, the left and the right, there are thus two types of unders, the left-wall and the right-wall under.

The Right Wall Under:

By the following the basic rules I laid out above for unders, you should be able to execute an effective right-wall under. When it comes to where you strike the puck with your mallet, I have found the front right of the mallet the most effective area to strike the puck with in order to give the shot the “umph” it needs.

Effectively scoring the right-wall under does have one more, extremely important piece: time delays. In general, before you execute your under you want to “freeze” your opponent on defense, tricking them into staying out of position long enough for you to score. This is where time delays come in handy. By having your hand cocked and ready to let fly a right-wall under, as you drift the puck and put it into position to shoot, your opponent will be kept on edge, wondering when you are going to release. Often your opponent will unconsciously freeze their mallet in one spot in anticipation, like a deer in headlights. This gives you a perfect opening to score your shot, before your opponent has the chance to react and block the under. Throwing a couple pump fakes in the mix, acting like you are about to shoot the puck, but in actuality not, can help to make your opponent a perfect icicle on defense.

The Left Wall Under:

When it comes to the left-wall under, start by following the rules I laid out for all under-the-mallet banks. To create a consistently powerful and accurate left-wall under you still need to follow the mantra of more wrist and less arm. Snapping your wrist when executing a left-wall under will not only make the shot more consistently powerful, but it will also make the left-wall under more deceptive. Traditionally, a left-wall under is meant to look like a cross straight. Snapping your wrist toward the right as you execute a left-wall under can make the shot look similar to a cross-straight; as the mallet normally moves towards the right when a cross-straight is released. This similarity in execution helps to pull our opponent away from the corner of their goal closest to the left rail, where we hope to score. The top left corner of the mallet should hit the left side of the puck, sending it to the left rail, while the mallet itself snaps rightward. You want it to look like you are hitting the puck one direction when in actuality you send it in a completely different direction. If you find you are having trouble hitting the left-wall under, try positioning your body slightly to the right of the goal with your shoulders pointed toward the left rail. With your body positioned this way, finding the leverage you need to execute an effective left wall under should be easier.

As with the right-wall some time-delays can help to freeze your opponent on defense, allowing you to score. Pump fakes, however, become more interesting with the left-wall under. If you are making the unders execution look similar to that of a cross-straight, a pump fake can get your opponent to pull for a cross. This leaves their goal wide open for a crisp left-wall under.

Until next time…

Happy Shooting!

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