Underwater Hockey (UWH) is a sport played between two teams of 10 players (6 in the water with 4 substitutes on the sidelines) at the bottom of a pool. Players try to maneuver a puck weighing approximately 1.3 kg (3 lbs) along the bottom of the pool into the opposing team’s goal using approximately 30 cm (12 inch) in length sticks.
As for gear, players use a mask, snorkel, fins, mouthguard, water polo cap, and protective glove. Players hold their breath and dive to the bottom of the pool (typically 1.8 - 2.6 m / 6 to 8 feet deep) in order to push, pass or steal the puck from opponents. UWH introduces a level of three dimensional play unseen in other sports because players have to breathe at the top of the water while the play is going on at the bottom of the pool. Strategies require careful coordination of timing in order to orchestrate successful offensive and defensive maneuvers with 2 or more players on the bottom while allowing some players to rest and recover oxygen on the surface.
An official game of UWH is 2 x 15 minute periods with a 3 minute half time. Games can go into overtime (2 x 5 minute periods with a 1 minute halftime) and if still no winner will go to sudden death - first goal wins. There are 4 official referees which officiate the game -1 Deck (or Chief Referee), and 3 in water referees.
UWH is an exhilarating sport that gives you an incredible cardio workout and will leave you literally breathless at times! We have players from 8 years old to 75 years old and all shapes and sizes. The best way to learn and experience this sport is to find a local club and take the plunge. The sport is best viewed underwater and many local clubs have spare equipment for beginners that wish to come out and try the game.
Typical equipment used in UWH includes:
|Masks - Typically used in skin / scuba diving these come in various shapes and sizes. Players choose a particular mask for maximum visibility while offering good comfort in the pool.|
|Snorkels - Our main breathing apparatus when on the surface of the pool these allow us to breath while still watching the play of the game. They come in various shapes / sizes and most players will shorten their snorkel to allow for easier breathing. Some players also color them with their country colors or just to be different so they can be spotted easily in the water.|
|Fins - Fins are used to help a player propel themselves quickly and efficiently while either on the surface or underwater. Fins come in many shapes and sizes and typically we use a soft foot pocket style. Fins with buckles (i.e. - diving fins) are not allowed as they can easily injure other players.|
|Gloves - A special glove typically covered with a thicker layer of silicone or latex is worn on the hand that will carry the hockey stick. The glove helps to protect against accidental hits to the playing hand during the game by other sticks or the puck. As well, it helps to reduce the friction from the pool bottoms on the hand itself.|
|Sticks - The stick we use to play the game varies in all shapes, sizes, and materials. Some players are more comfortable with a smaller sticks (typically forwards) while other players prefer a larger one (typically defenders). Sticks are made of different materials but most common are wood or plastic.|
|Pucks - There are a number of pucks sold around the world for the sport of UWH. An official puck weighs between 1.1 and 1.5 Kilos and typically is made of lead but encased in a plastic shell of some sort. Each puck is slightly different and some work better than others depending on the type of pool bottom.|
|Mouthguards - A mouth guard is placed over top the snorkel to help protect the players teeth / mouth from accidental injuries. An internal mouthguard can also be used. As in any sport - accidents do happen and we wear certain gear to help keep our players safe from injuries where possible.|
|Water Polo Caps - Many people may have seen these caps before. These are the same caps used in Water Polo. We use these to protect a player from possible injury to the ear / eardrum. Each player typically has a light and dark colored cap for game play to clearly identify one team from another.|