Underwater hockey is a sport where players dive into a pool and try to score goals using their hands and feet. The game has become very popular over the last decade, especially among children. In the United States alone, there are currently around 2 million registered players. This number is growing every year.
Underwater hockey is played differently from other sports. For example, unlike soccer or basketball, underwater hockey does not require ball possession. Instead, players simply dive underwater and attempt to hit the puck with their hand or foot.
This article will give you a short overview of playing underwater hockey. Check out our guide below if you’re eager to give it a shot.
What is Underwater Hockey?
A new sport called Underwater Hockey has recently gained popularity around the globe. In This sport, two teams play against each other using hockey sticks and a puck made from plastic foam. This is a sport where players use a ball made from plastic bottles and a stick to hit a puck into a net. The goal is made to the first team to get four points by hitting the puck into the opposing team’s net.
There are two types of underwater hockey games: one is played in open water, and another is played in pools. Open water is played in lakes, rivers, or oceans, whereas pool play is usually indoors.
This game was created in Britain in 1954 and was first known as “octopush.” British commandos often used this name to teach divers. Alan Blake pioneered underwater hockey in the U.K. Blake, together with divers John Ventham, Jack Willis, and Frank Lilleker, was a founding member of the Southsea Sub-Aqua Club (British Sub-Aqua Club No.9).
The game was first played with eight players on each team. For goal, players use a “pusher” bat resembling a miniature shuffleboard stick, a “squid” puck made of uncoated lead, and a “cuttle,” later renamed a “gulley.” Soon after, the sport made its way to Australia, where it rapidly developed into one of the most exciting and popular in the country.
The World Underwater Federation oversees the sport, which is officially appointed by the International Olympic Committee (CMAS).
Over 40 countries now host regular tournaments, with an estimated 15,000 players. Most of the world’s best underwater hockey players come from New Zealand, Great Britain, France, Turkey, Australia, South Africa, and Colombia. The 2017 global championships were held in Quebec, and it attracted 17 countries. New Zealand dominated the competition, winning both the men’s and women’s elite divisions. A 25-by-15-foot pool that is two to four meters deep is used for underwater hockey.
How is Underwater Hockey Started?
The founder of Underwater Hockey, Alan Blake, was inspired after watching his son play water polo at age 9. He wanted to create a sport for children that would be fun, safe, and easy to learn. After several months of research, he came up with the idea of using a hockey stick underwater. His first prototype was made out of foam board and plastic tubing, which worked well until he found a way to waterproof them. This led him to build the first official version of the game, which he called “Underwater Hockey.”
How to play Underwater Hockey?
To play underwater hockey, you need a pool, some water balloons, and a ball. The first step is to fill up all the balloons with water. Then you put the ball into the middle of the pool. Next, you throw the ball at the wall and try to hit the balloon with the ball. If you do not succeed, then you must start again from the beginning.
Rules of Underwater Hockey
There can be two teams, each with a maximum of 10 players. In every half of a game, six players from each team are active. There should be a substitution area where the other four players wait to enter the game at any given time. This area can be on the deck or in the water.
Scoring a Goal
The game begins with the puck being dropped in the center of the playing area and the players waiting in the water, touching the wall above their respective goals. When the referee blows the whistle or sounds the gong to start play, players of the two teams are free to swim anywhere in the pool and attempt to score by guiding the puck into the opposing team’s net with just their stick.
Players take a deep breath before plunging to the pool floor. As soon as a goal is scored, the players return to their respective walls to begin a new point, and play continues until the referee calls a timeout (whether due to a foul, a timeout, or the end of the period of play).
Each half of a game lasts anywhere from ten to fifteen minutes (depending on the rules of the competition; 20 minutes at World Cup games). It is separated by a brief halftime interval of three to five minutes. The team’s switch ends at halftime.
Most teams use a 3-3 formation (three forwards, three backs), But a 3-2-1 (three forwards, two midfielders, and a back) is also common. Two strikers, three midfielders, and a defender make up a 2-3-1 formation. 1-3-2 and 2-2-2 are other possibilities. Different national teams, like New Zealand’s, are advocates of various adjustments in formations, like the ‘box’ (2-1-2-1) used by the All Whites. A substitution mistake can lead to a foul (too many players in the play area) and the ejection of a player from the offending team (with too few defenders on a play).
Alternative Formations for a 4-on-4 Game
4-a-side When there are just four players in the game, the game is called “Underwater Hockey.” The teams can have up to 8 players, with 4 being substitutes. The level of competition at 4-a-side tournaments is often low and is not contested on an international stage. The Hamilton 4-asides (held in Hamilton, New Zealand) and the Dunedin 4’s are two popular examples of 4-on-4 soccer tournaments (Hosted in Dunedin, New Zealand)
The official underwater hockey rules outline several penalties. Using the stick against an opponent, playing or stopping the puck with an object other than the stick, and “blocking” all fall under this category. Referees will award an advantage puck if the infraction is small, which means the offending team will be penalized by being forced back 3 meters (9.8 feet) from the puck while the other side gains control.
When a player commits a significant foul, such as a risky pass (such as striking an opponent in the head) or an intentional or repeated foul, the referees may remove them from the game for a certain amount of time or the rest of the game or even the rest of the tournament. When a defender commits a major foul near his own net, the offending club may be given a penalty shot or even a penalty goal.
Who can be the Best Player?
The best players in this sport are typically those that are excellent swimmers, have a high maximum breath-hold, can generate considerable speed underwater, and can demonstrate taught skills in puck management. Collaboration and using everyone’s strengths as a team player are also crucial.
Equipment you’ll need to play Underwater Hockey
The puck is played with a small stick or pusher, and the players use diving masks, snorkels, and fins. Here is a complete inventory of tools:
There are typically no rules about what a swimmer can or cannot wear. Loose-fitting bottoms can slow you down and increase your resistance in the water. Male players typically wear jammers or swim briefs. Female players often wear two-piece swimsuits in an athletic design. In addition, the CMAS International Rules for Underwater Hockey specifies that wetsuits are not permitted.
Since the nose is hidden, players can balance their ears. A mask, in contrast to swimming goggles, protects the eyes by keeping debris and other potential dangers from entering the orbit.
Masks that don’t stick out too far from the face and have a low volume are less likely to leak. They also protect from flood and briefly obscure the player’s vision if they’re pushed over. In order to protect players’ eyes from puck impact, the regulation stipulates that masks must have two lenses. A single-lens mask poses a greater risk of injury since the aperture may be large enough for a puck to pass through into the player’s eyes.
Players can keep their heads submerged in the water and still keep an eye on the action with the help of a snorkel. They can remain on the surface and be ready to re-enter the game at any time.
Underwater snorkels are typically short, have a broad bore, and may have a drain valve to maximize breathing efficiency and minimize drag. They cannot be rigid or have any sharp edges or points in accordance with the rules as established.
It’s possible to wear a mouthguard outside your mouth with the snorkel, either in addition to or instead of your regular mouthpiece.
The addition of fins boosts the player’s speed when swimming. Large plastic or rubber composite fins or smaller, stiffer fiberglass or carbon fiber fins are prevalent at competitions. According to the guidelines, all of the equipment must have rounded corners and edges, and that includes the fins. Protective film or tape must be applied to all sharp edges to avoid harm. In addition, closed-heel fins (those without buckles) are typically mandated for wear by players to reduce the risk of damage.
Full-foot fins, no matter how snug they are, can be yanked off during play if they come into contact with an object. Because of the time required to replace a missing fin, a team is reduced to a bare five members when this happens. A fin grip, often called a fin retainer or a fin keeper, is a triple-strap device that helps a player maintain a closed-heel fin in place. These are strapped across the instep, heel, and arch of the foot in an effort to keep the wearer’s foot in place within the fin’s foot pocket.
The stick, sometimes called a pusher, is short and is typically colored white or black to show support for one of two teams. Only one hand is allowed on the stick at any given time. It’s frequently up to the individual player to decide on the shape of the stick, which can have an effect on their playing style. The regulations of the game allow for a broad range of stick designs, with the main restriction being that the stick with its handle must have to fit into a box of 100 mm, 50 mm, or 350 mm thick.
The lead or lead-based substance puck is around the size of an ice hockey puck (adult size weighs 1.3–1.5 kg (2.9–3.3 lb), junior size weighs 800-850 g (1.76–1.87 lb)). Moreover, the stick face is encased in or wrapped by a plastic covering. The puck can be lofted during passes, but its weight causes it to settle on the pool floor.
Underwater Hockey caps are worn for a number of reasons, including ear protection and to show support for one’s team (by wearing one in the proper color, either black or white). Red caps are worn by water officials.
The playing hand should wear a glove to guard against abrasion from the pool’s bottom and, in some designs, to protect against puck impact on the knuckles and other susceptible places, but no rigid protection is allowed. Gloves can be worn on both hands for added protection from the pool floor or to allow ambidextrous players to alternate hands with the stick during play. The rules state that gloves worn during the competition must be a contrasting color to the wearer’s stick; however, orange gloves are reserved for referees.
Having a glove that doesn’t blend in with the puck’s color scheme is also recommended. Players should not use black, white, red, orange, yellow, or pink gloves because those are the opposite colors of the puck. Players should exercise caution when selecting the color of their gloves, as the referee of any game or tournament has the right to request that a player use other equipment before the game begins. Due to restrictions on glove colors, blue is the most common choice. However, other colors have been tried.
The goals are located on the pool bottom in the middle of each end line and are 3 meters (9.8 feet) wide. The puck can be pushed or flicked into a trough at the top of a shallow hill.
Aluminum, galvanized steel, or stainless steel are common materials for goalposts. Because of this, they are resistant to the harmful effects of chlorine in pool water and maintain a negative buoyancy.
Injuries that can happen while playing Underwater Hockey
It’s possible that surface spectators don’t realize how physically demanding underwater hockey is because of the sport’s submerged nature. There is a high potential for harm, even though it is a non-contact sport. Sprains, muscle tears, and minor cuts and scrapes are commonplace. Deeper cuts, broken fingers, head hits producing shock or dental trauma, and a small risk of life-threatening injury due to a serious concussion or blackout are all possible. These can happen if a player has a head-on collision with an object while submerged in water.
While it’s true that a player has the risk of being unconscious underwater, so the referees keep a close eye on the action, and athletes are usually keenly aware of what their fellow players are doing or not. As a result, a seriously injured or unconscious player is likely to be noticed and helped or rescued very quickly. Gloves, mouth guards, and earplugs are examples of PPE which is used to protect against common sources of injury and are required by the rules as a matter of policy. Certain athletes may experience pulmonary capillary stress failure, often known as hemoptysis.
The Underwater Hockey World Championship has been held at regular intervals since 1980, once every two years. In August of 2006, CMAS hosted the 14th World Underwater Hockey Championship in Sheffield, England. A record 44 teams representing 17 countries participated across six age and gender divisions.
The 2008 WAA World Championship in Durban, South Africa, and the 2013 18th CMAS World Championship in Eger, Hungary, both saw lower attendance than their predecessors. Men and women of every age and skill level participated, from the Under-19 to the Under-23 to the Masters and Elite divisions. To date, this World Championship has been the largest competition of its kind, with 68 teams competing across eight age/gender groups from 19 different countries.
The federations decided at the 18th World Championships that the Junior Grades (U19, U23) will compete in a separate event every two years beginning in 2015, during the competition for.
the Elite and Masters Grades would take place in Stellenbosch, South Africa, in 2016.
The contests in Underwater Hockey range from club to National to World crowns. The World Championship is contested every two years, typically in April or May. Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa compete in a Tri-Nations cup every two years. The Next championship will be held in Brisbane, Australia, in the Month of July 2023.
Current World Champions
|Men’s World Champion||Women’s World champion|
|Elite level||New Zealand||New Zealand|
|U24 level||Turkey||New Zealand|
|U19 Level||New Zealand||New Zealand|
CMAS hosts an annual competition named Underwater Hockey European Championships (CMAS). In 1985, the first one was held in the U.K. In that Championship, Great brain was the champion in both men’s and women’s tournaments. The last annual competition was held in 2019, before the pandemic. Spain hosted the tournament. Turkey was the champion in the men’s competition, while France was the women’s tournament champion.
The south Asian Championship
The 2019 Southeast Asian Games underwater hockey competition was placed in the Vermosa Sports Hub in Imus, Cavite, Philippines. Four-on-four and six-on-six competitions were held for both men and women. Malaysia was making its debut in an international competition outside of the country at these events. Philipines, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia participated in that tournament.
Underwater hockey is not often considered to be a spectator sport at the club or training level. Since much of the talent and complexity of the game takes place below the water’s surface, very few pools have underwater viewing ports. Therefore spectators normally have to get wet to witness it. Spectators at major events can either don a mask, fins, and snorkel and swim right into the action, or they can watch previously recorded footage from underwater filmmakers.
Spectators at these competitions can watch the action unfold live on giant screens. There was excellent video coverage of the 2008 European Championship in Istanbul, Turkey, but no live streaming of the game itself. In contrast, the Underwater Hockey World Championships in 2006 held in Sheffield, England) and 2010 (Durban, South Africa) were screened poolside and webcast lives to spectators around the world at the same time.
Even for a seasoned filmmaker, it can be difficult to capture the action of the games because the participants move so quickly and because there are so few areas on or under the ground where they can be ignored. In order to accommodate player substitutions, penalty boxes, coaches, and television crews, games are often played width-wise across a 50-meter pool. However, there is a continuous effort to improve filmmaking practices through study and experimentation.
For the most part, the best place to go to get footage of underwater hockey matches is to contact the organizers of big tournaments. There may not be a centralized location for game recordings, but there is no shortage of websites or how-to discs. Video-sharing websites contain a plethora of relevant clips.
In conclusion, underwater hockey is a sport that combines elements from ice hockey, basketball, soccer, and volleyball. There are two teams of three players each, and the goal is simple: score points by hitting the ball through the opponent’s net.
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