Take Your Diving to a Whole New Level With Underwater Hockey
If you love the water and love swimming in a pool, and love competitive sports, you can combine these loves by playing underwater hockey! The game is a bit different than you might imagine; players don’t use actual hockey sticks but smaller, handheld sticks that they use to maneuver a puck on a pool floor. They typically wear snorkeling equipment and not heavy scuba gear, as well as fins to help them swim.
Underwater hockey will vary according to the players or league, but typically there are three players on each team and each side of the pool has a small net for the goal, just like standard hockey. A referee will swim down and place a puck in the middle of the pool floor, between the two goals, while the players wait above water. Once the puck is in place and the referee moves out of the way, he or she will signal the start of the game and the players swim down to take their place and aim for the puck. They can typically use just about any movement or formation to move the puck toward the opponents’ goal, using the small handheld stick as the only means of contact with the puck.
Rules will also vary according to a particular league or group playing the game but often then include restrictions on how many players can be across the middle line at one time, restrictions against touching the puck with your hands or body, and physical contact with other players. There may also be timeouts for penalties and time restrictions on each team having the puck before executing a play.
Underwater hockey is very challenging and fun for those who are strong to intermediate swimmers, but because you use snorkeling equipment and not scuba equipment, you need to practice apnea diving or diving without assistance. This takes some work as you need to strengthen your lungs and your muscles against this lack of oxygen. You also need to be good team player as being underwater, where you can’t run freely as you would in an open field, requires you to work with your teammates more closely. The stick used for the puck is much smaller than a regular hockey stick and may take some practice to use it effectively underwater, and you need some patience as the water resistance won’t allow you to direct the puck very far across the playing surface.
If you practice, underwater hockey can be great fun and a great way to spend time in the pool with others. Teams and leagues are popping up all over the country, so check your local community center or gym with a pool to see about joining one.