SECTION VII. Player Conduct

1. UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT WARNING: A foul is incurred upon the second conduct warning received in a match. A technical foul is incurred upon the third conduct warning received in a match. A fourth conduct warning results in forfeiture of the current game. A fifth conduct warning results in forfeiture of the match. A referee issues the conduct warnings immediately but must wait until after the game to record the details on the back of the match card. Actions that should receive “conduct warnings” include, but are not limited to:

a. Excessive or abusive arguing with the referee

b. Cursing directed towards the referee

c. Speaking loud and vulgar obscenities

d. Verbal or physical assault of another player, spectator, or referee

e. Actions that endanger spectators

f. Destruction of property

g. Actions that discredit the sport, as decided on by the USAA Board

h. Taunting of another player (includes but not limited to: cursing your opponent, verbally defaming them, or making obscene gestures)

i. Intentional or excessive distracting noise

2. If a referee feels a player has committed extreme unsportsmanlike conduct, the referee may issue multiple “conduct warnings” for one single action. A referee may issue enough “conduct warnings” to cause a forfeiture of a game or match immediately if he/she feels the penalty is warranted.

SECTION VIII. Player Rights

1. Players of a Challenge Match may play without a referee at their own risk of irreconcilable controversies.

2. Before competition begins, a player has the right to play under the stipulation that no special time-outs for the purpose of clearing sweat from the table be called. Unless a player requests this stipulation from the referee either player may request the referee to clean the table during a game.

3. If a referee coaches a player or engages in any questionable behavior, the opposing player may protest to a Head Referee or ultimately to the Tournament Committee for a decision.

4. An appeal may be made from either player not in agreement with the referee’s decision. However, the appeals from an Official Air-Hockey Competition and a Challenge Match go to different bodies.

a. The appeal goes to the Head Referees in an Official Air-Hockey Competition. The Head Referees may overturn the original referee’s decision only if the matter is an incorrect understanding of the rules. After the correct rule is understood, the original referee’s interpretation of the evidence according to the rules is final. The appeal in this situation must be made immediately after the occurrence or after the end of the game in which the disagreement took place. When the next game is begun, no appeal may be made.

b. The appeal goes to the USAA Board of Directors after a challenge match. These directors decide whether the appeal is valid and, if so, have the right to make any decisions they deem necessary.

5. If a player desires spectators or players to be quieter while he/she is playing, he/she should ask the referee to request quiet from the crowd. If the referee does not believe the noise to be unusual, then the referee does not have to request the quiet. The player desiring quiet must not abuse the crowd.

6. During a challenge match players have a maximum of one minute in between games, however either player may choose to take one 2 minute break in between games each set. This may be extended in emergencies.

7. A player is allowed to change mallets at any time during play.

8. If a puck is flipping around on its edge on one player’s side of the table, then the player may wait for it to stop.

SECTION IX. Referee Authority & Responsibilities

1. Each game in a USAA Sanctioned Air Hockey Tournament shall be refereed. The referee will act as an unbiased observer insuring that the game is played in a correct, fair, and sportsmanlike manner.

2. The referee has the authority to declare “in play”, “time-in”, or “time-out”. He/she also has the power to impose penalties and enforce all the rules of the sport.

3. The referee must never coach a player whom he/she is refereeing.

4. The referee will signal with his arm in the direction of the player who won the face-off.

5. When the game is out of play as a result of a foul the referee will ask the player not in possession of the puck if that player is ready before the referee announces “in play” (or “time-in”). In case of any excessive delay by the player not in possession of the puck to give an affirmative indication to the referee that he/she is ready, the referee may proceed to put puck in play. The referee must place a puck that is off the table back into play by either physically releasing it or by acknowledging the release of the player.

6. The referee has the final word on any decision during the game that is in adherence to the rules. He/she may consult others if he/she wishes to do so.

7. Referee may call an official time-out of a reasonable duration if he agrees that the situation warrants it (i.e. sanding the puck, interference, emergencies).

8. Referees should caution players to desist from striking pucks that are obviously spinning top-like on the table. A foul may be called. Such pucks may be kept on the table by use of the mallet.

9. If a referee doesn’t suspend play immediately after a foul, but his/her voice or gesture interferes with continued play to the point of distraction, the puck should be returned to the player not committing the foul. A player must never assume that a foul will be called and stop his/her play. The puck remains in play until the referee suspends play and then decides the nature of the foul and the moment of play in which it occurred.

10. If a puck is flipping around on its edge on one player’s side of the table, then the referee will suspend the seven-second rule until the puck rests flat.

11. Lifting the mallet from the table and striking the puck is legal. However, if the referee can show clear damage to the table, the player causing such damage to the table must cease use of whatever method of play causes it. The referee may also at any time disallow a technique that he/she deems destructive to property or dangerous to players and/or spectators.

12. The referee shall verbally state the score of the game after each point is scored. He/she shall also verbally declare the game count of the set after each game is completed, and set count after each set, if applicable.

13. If a foul occurs and the innocent player plays the puck before the referee has time to suspend play and grant him possession of the puck, the referee may choose not to call the foul.

14. The referee should caution players not to tilt their mallets so as to descend past a 40-degree angle when touching the puck with the mallet. Otherwise, their action can be considered “topping” the puck, which incurs the penalty of a foul.

15. In the case of a centerline or topping violation, the referee shall not stop play if the innocent player gains immediate possession of the puck.

SECTION X. Tournament Procedures

1. Players have a maximum of two minutes in between games during a tournament match. This may be extended in emergencies.

2. Players may take a maximum 15-minute break between sets during a tournament or challenge match. This may be extended due to emergencies.

3. When a match is called, both players have 15 minutes to report to the referee or the tournament director. The clock begins when the match is called and does not stopped ticking until both players report. If there is not a response within 10 minutes, then the next match is called. For a player who has not reported by 15 minutes, one point is lost, and then one additional point for each minute afterwards. This will continue until the player finally reports to the referee or the tournament director. Any penalties assessed by this rule are mandatory and are NOT up to the discretion of the offending player’s opponent.

4. If a player has been informed personally that his match is up for play, the player has five minutes to report to the table for competition. If the player does not comply by the end of five minutes, he loses one point per game and then one point per game per minute thereafter.

5. Players who do not referee a match that they are responsible to referee, or who do not provide a referee acceptable to the players when the players are ready, face the possible penalty of conduct warnings and/or more severe penalties at the discretion of the tournament committee. The referee does have a maximum 5-minute break if he/she has just finished competing.

6. During later matches on the last day of a tournament, players are granted permission to watch three games of an ongoing match, even if the time for their match has come.

7. Players must inform either of the two Head Referees if the players are leaving the tournament premises. Players should provide specific information as to their whereabouts and length of absence. If Head Referees are unavailable, chart personnel must be consulted.

8. Players who voluntarily forfeit out of a tournament are not entitled to their prize money or prizes. The USAA may make exceptions to this rule in extreme cases. The unclaimed prizes return to the tournament sponsors.

9. The USAA reserves the right to photograph or videotape any tournament play desired by the camera crew and to use it as players request. Players may refuse to permit flashbulbs or extreme lighting to be used during their match by camera people.

10. The USAA and tournament sponsors are not responsible in any way for loss resulting from injury during or traveling to and from any of its sanctioned events. Each participant and spectator assumes full and total responsibility for health and safety and agrees that the USAA and its sponsors are held harmless.

11. During a USAA Swiss event, once a match is officially called and time is written on the match card by the current chart keeper in charge, players have five (5) minutes to get to their match table. After five (5) minutes, they lose a game. Thereafter, they lose a game for each five (5) minutes. Example: if a player shows up nine (9) minutes late they have lost one game and may begin play.

12. Once the seeds are determined for a national level or higher double-elimination event, the randomization of each group will occur publicly by hat draw by the tournament committee. Randomization is as follows:

1 and 2 are not randomized.
3 and 4 are randomized together.
5 and 6 are randomized together.
7 and 8 are randomized together.
9 through 12 are randomized together.
13 through 16 are randomized together.
17 through 20 are randomized together.
21 through 24 are randomized together.
25 through 28 are randomized together.
29 through 32 are randomized together.
33 and above are not randomized.

13. Sanctioning of USAA National/International Tournaments requires a majority vote of the USAA Board.