What is table hockey?

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Written By air hockey nerds

We share our love for air hockey with tips, tricks and buying guides.

If you are planning to purchase an indoor game for your home, table hockey might be what you've been searching for, and if you like hockey in general, you are going to be in love with this game.

Table hockey is an indoor game derived from ice hockey, played with a small puck and table-top hockey players. Similar to what foosball is to soccer, the goal is to move the puck around the playing surface and into the goal of the opponent.

Because of its resemblance with foosball, it is sometimes called rod hockey or stick hockey, as it uses rods/sticks on each side of the table to control the players.

It is also very close to some other indoor games such as bubble hockey, characterized by the dome (bubble) on top of the table and board hockey, which is played directly with bare hands.

Main image showing a tabletop hockey table

What is table hockey?

Table hockey is an indoor arcade game mounted on a miniature ice hockey rink. Players are on small spikes spinning and moving with the twist of rods, which are used to control the puck. 

This game can be played by two people and the goal of the game is to score goals by getting the disc or puck into the opponent's goal.

As a tabletop game, it doesn't usually come with legs. It needs to be put on a table or flat surface such as the floor in order to play. Even though it can sometimes be tricky to play, it can be stored away which is not the case with traditional air hockey table. 

Tables are also quite small compare to regular air hockey tables which are usually under 40-inches where as regular air hockey tables can be up to 8-foot long.

At airhockeynerds.com, we believe air hockey, table hockey and bubble hockey are three distinct games, with similarities of course, but different.

What about pucks?

Table hockey pucks are very small compare to air hockey pucks. See these Stiga Hockey Pucks.

What is table hockey also called?

While table hockey is pretty much an ice hockey version of foosball, hence why it is sometimes called rod hockey, bubble hockey or dome hockey is characterized by its dome. In addition, kids ice hockey tables are sometimes called tabletop hockey and air hockey is characterized by its airflow. 

At airhockeynerds.com, we believe air hockey, table hockey, tabletop hockey and bubble hockey are three distinct games, with similarities of course, but different.

Origins of rod hockey

According to Wikipedia, the game was invented in 1932, by a Canadian man in Toronto, called Donald H. Munro Sr.

The first table was originally made out of scrap wood and metal, coat hanger wire, butcher's twine, clock springs, and lumber from the coal bin.

The story goes that a mobile sales rep saw the game and urged Don to bring the game down to the nearby Eaton's retail chain. When Mr. Munro returned home after leaving his only unit for sale, the game was sold and more units were ordered.

The appearance of a tables has not changed much but you can now find tables featuring specific teams such as the Detroit Red Wings/Toronto Maple Leafs table.

How do you play it?

Foosball hockey can be a very strategic game that requires good hand-eye coordination. It is also a fast-paced game that is a lot of fun to play. 

The game is usually played with two people, each with a small rod. There are two goals, one at each end of the table. The goal of the game is to score more goals than your opponent. The game is played by hitting the puck with your hockey stick and trying to score goals.

It is a game that can be played by people of all ages and skill levels.

Watch this video to learn how to play:

Difference between table hockey and tabletop hockey?

As mentioned earlier, we believe air hockey, table hockey and bubble hockey are 3 different sports.

Below, we've compared a typical table top hockey game with bubble hockey:

Table Hockey

  • Affordable
  • Table top, doesn't come with legs
  • Open, nothing on top - plexiglas behind the goals only
  • Manual scoreboard
  • Doesn't require power

Bubble Hockey

  • Expensive
  • Only comes with legs
  • Closed on top - Protected by a dome/plastic
  • Electronic scoreboard
  • Requires power
image featuring a bubble hockey table

Where to buy a table?

A few products stand out.

Stiga table hockey

Stiga, known for its line of ping-pong products, made a very compelling product called the Stiga 37 in. Rod Hockey Table Top Game. Simple and affordable, this table can be found featuring some of the most famous hockey rivalry such as the Detroit Red Wings vs. Toronto Maple Leafs.


Wal-Mart is a great place to buy pretty much anything, and they definitely have great table hockey game for sale. Wal-Mart caters the Franklin brand. If we had to pick one, we would pick the Franklin Rod Hockey Pro, which is small and affordable tabletop air hockey table.


Good deals usually come and go at Costco. We have not found an option available. However, if you are thinking about getting an air hockey table from Costco, you must read this Costco Air Hockey table review as MD Sports make their air hockey tables.


If you agree that only extreme passion allows to deliver some of the best work, then you will agree that benej makes or has made some of the best and most beautiful table hockey tables. Rick Benej is a hockey enthusiast which has been making hand made tables for 37+ years.

Check out benej's website.

Because table hockey is a game that is a lot like ice hockey, but is played on a table, it is a lot of fun, and is a great way to pass the time.