This Week in Obscure Sports – Underwater Hockey

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By: Carolyn Deas

So you like swimming, but you also like hockey?

I have a sport for you.

Underwater hockey is almost exactly what it sounds like: six players on each team in a pool 6-8’ deep, pushing around a weighted puck with their stick, which is only about a foot long in this version of hockey. They wear fins for speed as well as masks, snorkels, and for those who want it to be an intense game, protective gloves and headgear.

The game starts with all of the players touching the walls of the pool. Once the puck is dropped by the ref, both teams try to get to the puck first. The game is played continuously until a goal is scored, after which players return to their starting positions on the wall, or a break in play is called by the referee for a foul or time out.
Underwater hockey is played in two halves, 10-15 minutes long. Players can’t bat down the puck with their hands or use their sticks to hit anything other than the puck, and there is no blocking (so you can’t stand in front of your teammate while they have the puck.)

This game relies heavily on how long you can hold your breath. Most players can stay underwater for five seconds at a time (15 if you’re a pro), so teamwork is absolutely necessary. The puck doesn’t have to stay on the floor of the pool; it can be shot past or over defenders and athletes can use their sticks to bat down shots.
So you’ve never heard of this sport?

It’s actually a very popular game. Underwater hockey was started in the UK back in 1954 by Allen Blake who was trying to think of ways to keep the members of his diving club occupied during the winter months. Soon after, the game moved on to Australia, South Africa, and the United States. The World Championships started in 1980 and are played every two years. Currently, France is the World Champion for the men’s league and New Zealand for the women’s league.

Wanna play?

With teams all over the country, and internationally, you can become a member of UWH and play in tournaments, participate in clinics, and enjoy the comradery of being amongst athletes like you. By becoming a member, you are supporting groups everywhere, working towards pool safety, and training referees.
For more information, visit their website at https://www.usauwh.org/info/


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