Whether you call them air hockey pushers, paddles, strikers, mallets or goalie mallets; there are some things any air hockey player needs to know about the care and replacement of air hockey goalie mallets.
Air hockey goalie mallets are a important component to a air hockey table. They must be matched in size and weight for your size air hockey table and your playing style. Air hockey goalie mallets come in sizes as small as 2 3/4 inch in diameter for 4 and 5 foot table top and small free standing air hockey games for children. These are light weight mallets that are easily held by children and contain the correct weight for the size and weight air hockey puck they are designed to strike. Most medium sized 6 and 7 foot air hockey tables designed for the home game room use lighter weight 4 inch diameter mallets with most of these having felt pad bottoms. Coin operated and commercial quality air hockey tables use a heavy weight 4 inch diameter mallet without felt pad bottoms.
Should we use felt pads on the bottom of our air hockey goalie mallets is a common question we get. Felt bottom mallets are usually used on low to medium priced air hockey tables. The felt pads can help cut down on table top wear and reduce noise at the cost of reducing reaction time, accuracy and control. For this reason competitive air hockey players and most commercial quality air hockey tables use goalie mallets without felt pads.
Air hockey goalie mallets do wear out and can get chipped on the edges from dropping on a hard floor or become scratched and dirty on the bottom from long use. While it is possible to extend the useful life of mallets by regular cleaning of the bottoms and lightly sanding the bottoms smooth again, the best practice is to replace air hockey goalie mallets when damaged. While using mallets with felt pads can help with reducing wear on your air hockey table, it can do just the opposite if your felt pads become dirty. Trapped dirt in the pads can act like sand paper, scratching and wearing your air hockey table top. Regular inspection of the mallet for chips and replacement of your mallet felt pads can keep this wear at a minimum.