Underwater hockey (UWH), also known as Octopush in the United Kingdom, is a limited-contact sport in which two teams battle to send a ball across the bottom of a swimming pool and into the opposing team’s goal using a hockey stick.
Players are unable to use breathing devices such as scuba gear while playing the game; instead, they must hold their breath. The game was invented in 1954 in England by Alan Blake.
A founder of the newly formed Southsea Sub-Aqua Club, as a way to keep the club’s members interested and active during the chilly winter months when open-water diving lost its appeal.
Underwater hockey is now played all over the world. With the Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS) serving as the regulatory body. After a false start in 1979 due to international politics and apartheid, the first Underwater Hockey World Championship was held in Canada in 1980.
Underwater Hockey History
Alan Blake invented underwater hockey in the United Kingdom in 1954. Blake was a founding member of the Southsea Sub-Aqua Club (British Sub-Aqua Club No.9) and one of the first underwater hockey players at Portsmouth’s Guildhall Baths, alongside John Ventham, Jack Willis, and Frank Lilleker.
The original rules for underwater hockey were for teams of eight players (thus “octo-“), a bat-like tiny shuffleboard stick called a “pusher” (hence the “-push”). Moreover, an uncoated lead puck called a “squid,” and a goal known at first as a “cuttle” but soon after a “gulley.”
In the November 1954 issue of the British Sub-Aqua Club’s then-official magazine Neptune, Alan Blake announced that the first rules for Underwater hockey had been tested in a two-on-two game: “Our indoor training program, which includes wet activities other than bathing.
As well as our new underwater game ‘Octopush,’ is getting underway. More on that later, once we’ve worked out the details “.
In early 1955, a three-way event between teams from Southsea, Bournemouth, and Brighton was the first Octopush competition between clubs. Southsea was victorious at the time, and they remain highly regarded at the national level now (they won again in 2009, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019, 2020).
In the Americas, the game was initially taught to a Vancouver dive club in 1962 by Norm Liebeck. An unusual Australian scuba diving instructor and dive shop owner. The Underwater Hockey Association of British Columbia (UHABC) was founded ten years later with government funding.
In Australia, underwater hockey has been played since 1966. Thanks to the efforts of Norm Liebeck, the same Australian who returned from Canada with his Canadian bride Marlene.
It now draws players from all walks of life. In 1975, Margaret River, Western Australia hosted the first Australian Underwater Hockey Championships. In 1981, a Women’s class was added to the championships, and in 1990, a Junior division was established.
Related Post – Top 10 Water Sports And Activities In The USA
Underwater Hockey Equipment
Players wear a diving mask, snorkel, and fins while playing the puck with a short stick or pusher in one (either) hand. The following is a complete list of equipment:
Swimwear is normally not restricted, however, baggy trunks or shorts are not suggested because they slow you down and generate drag in the water. Male players typically wear swim briefs or jammers, while female players typically wear athletic-style racerback two-piece swimsuits with drawstring bottoms or one-piece swimsuits.
Furthermore, according to Rule 3.3.8 of the CMAS International Rules for Underwater Hockey, Eleventh Edition, wetsuits are not permitted.
A diving mask is used for a variety of purposes:
- As the nose is covered, players can equalize their ears (through the Valsalva maneuver).
- A mask, unlike swim goggles, lies beyond the orbit of the eye, limiting the consequences of any hit.
- Underwater vision has improved.
A snorkel allows players to keep an eye on the game’s progress without having to take their heads out of the water to breathe. This permits them to maintain their position on the surface until they are ready to play.
Underwater snorkels are often short with a broad bore and may contain a drain valve to maximize breathing efficiency and reduce drag. They must not be inflexible or have any sharp edges or points, according to the established guidelines.
An external mouthguard, which can be worn in addition to or instead of an internal mouthguard, may be accommodated by the snorkel.
Fins allow the player to move through the water more quickly. Fins are utilized in a number of ways throughout the sport.
Although huge plastic/rubber composite fins or smaller, stronger fiberglass or carbon fiber fins are typical. The published requirements stipulate that fins must be free of sharp edges or corners, much like the rest of the equipment.
To avoid harm, any sharp edges must be coated with a protective film or tape. As an additional injury protection measure, players are usually obliged to wear closed-heel fins (without buckles).
The stick (also known as a pusher) is short and is either white or black in color to signify the player’s team. Although players can switch hands during play, the stick can only be held in one hand, which is usually decided by the player’s handedness.
The shape of the stick can have an impact on how you play, and it’s frequently a highly personal decision.
Within the confines of the game’s rules, a wide variety of stick designs are permitted. The main requirements being that the stick (including the handle) must fit into a box measuring 100 mm 50 mm 350 mm (3.9 in 2.0 in 13.8 in) and that the stick must not be capable of surrounding the puck or any part of the hand.
The puck is about the size of an ice hockey puck, but it is constructed of lead or a lead-based material (adult size weights 1.3–1.5 kg (2.9–3.3 lb), junior size 800–850 g (1.76–1.87 lb)).
And is enclosed or encircled by a plastic covering that is usually performance-matched to various pool bottoms (e.g. tiles, concrete, etc.) to allow for adequate grip on the stick face while reducing pool bottom friction.
Though it can be lofted during passes, the puck’s weight causes it to rest on the pool’s bottom.
Ear protection, usually in the shape of a water polo cap. As well as a secondary indicator of the player’s team (colored black/dark or white/pale as appropriate) are included in the safety gear. Redcaps are worn by water referees.
On the playing hand, a glove should be worn to protect against pool-bottom abrasion. Moreover, in some designs, puck impacts on fingers and other vulnerable places, but no rigid protection is allowed.
Players can choose to wear a protective glove on both hands, either as additional protection from the pool bottom or to switch the stick between hands mid-game if they are ambidextrous.
A referee at any event or competition can instruct a player to change their equipment before they play, thus players should choose their gloves carefully. Because of the limited number of glove colors, blue is frequently utilized, but other colors have also been employed.
The goals (or ‘gulleys’) are 3 meters (9.8 feet) wide and are located in the middle of the end lines on the pool bottom at opposing ends of the playing area. They have a short slope that leads up to a trough where the puck can be pushed or flicked.
Aluminum, galvanized steel, and stainless steel are the most popular materials used to make goals. In the chlorinated water of swimming pools, this renders them negatively buoyant and durable.
Is underwater hockey in the Olympics?
It’s true that underwater hockey (no, it’s not a typo) is a legitimate sport. One of the only team sports in which 60-year-olds may participate against college-aged athletes without being labeled as old kooks is underwater hockey.
It was invented in England in the 1950s and is now recognized as a sport by the International Olympic Committee, though it is not yet featured at the Olympic Games. Despite the fact that it is more popular in Europe and other nations, the United States still has 60 club teams and regional, national, and international competitions.
Underwater hockey is a relatively new activity that you can potentially participate in at a local community pool. It’s actually fairly straightforward.
Players use sticks to push a puck into goals, similar to ice hockey. You only need fins, snorkels, and the ability to hold your breath for an extended period of time.
Swimming, diving, hockey, and snorkeling are all parts of underwater hockey, which is a non-contact sport. Two teams compete to move a puck across a swimming pool’s bottom and into goals.
For the game, players must wear a diving mask, fins, safety gloves, and a snorkel. They use little, foot-long sticks and a puck similar to that used in hockey. Each team’s players attempt to score in nine-foot-long goals.