Underwater Hockey Information


Insider Info

dotTom Marosz was totally confused as he was watching the local community access channel one lazy afternoon.

It was airing a video that showed a bunch of people dipping and diving for a puck on the bottom of a pool. Marosz thought those people had gone off the deep end.

"I first thought it was a joke," he says.

It was not. Marosz was watching a game of underwater hockey, and within a short time he was playing, too.

"It's great exercise, it's great fun," says Marosz. He has been a competitive player for 13 years and is current president of an underwater hockey club.

dotUnderwater hockey is played on the bottom of a swimming pool by two teams of six. Players use foot-long sticks made out of wood to fish after a lead puck that weighs about three pounds. Goals are made out of rope and anchored by lead weights.

A game has two 15-minute periods. Players line up at each end of the pool, then race towards the middle where the puck is placed to start a game. And this is when things get really interesting. Underwater hockey requires a set of mental and physical skills unlike any other sport.

dotBeing able to swim and dive are obvious requirements. More importantly, you must know how to divide your time above and below water, says Marosz. "That's by far the most difficult thing for beginners to learn," he says.

Marosz developed his timing and technique quickly because he snorkeled a lot during his youth, and he worked briefly as a commercial diver in the late 1970s. But he needed some time to learn another important skill -- shooting the puck.

dotCarrying the puck along the bottom of the pool is easy as long as you and your teammates have enough air. But you can carry the puck for only so far and so long before you have to come up for air.

But if you can shoot the puck underwater, you do not need to spend much time underwater. You can just flick it down the floor of the pool, then swim after it on the surface. This allows you and your teammates to save energy and air for the times when you really need it.

Marosz says a top player can fling the puck up to 82 feet. But you may have to play for several years before you can shoot that far.

dotBut you do not have to have a great slapshot to enjoy playing underwater hockey. It stresses strategy and teamwork. So anybody can play it, regardless of size or strength. Torque is more important than muscle. This means the sport is also accessible for those with disabilities.

Jennifer Macdonald is a past president of the Flounders Underwater Hockey Club. She remembers a disabled man playing with the club some years ago. He was suffering from paralysis in one leg, but held his own.

"Basically, if you can swim in the water, you can play underwater hockey," she says.

dotPlaying underwater hockey will also help you recover from serious injury, says Macdonald. Three years ago, she hurt her back. Her doctor told her to exercise in the water, and a friend recommended she try underwater hockey.

She has been enjoying it ever since. "It's actually therapeutic," says Macdonald. "It's a really good for my back, and when I don't go, I notice it."

dotIt is also a great way to network because the sport attracts a great number of established professionals, according to Macdonald. But do not expect to make a living off underwater hockey.

dotAny skills that you learn playing underwater hockey may only lead to seasonal jobs such as lifeguard or instructor.

dotThere is no consensus about who invented underwater hockey. Some say a group of sports divers in Great Britain developed it to stay warm over the winter when the water is too cold. Others say it developed out of a military training exercise.

But all those who play it agree on one point: it is a lot of fun. If you are looking for something different, something extraordinary, underwater hockey qualifies.

Just ask Marosz. "It's a very interesting group of people because you have to be a little tipped to play this game."

Getting Started

dotTeams will welcome you with open arms because they are always looking for new players with whom they can share this quirky sport.

dotYou need the following pieces of equipment: diving mask, snorkel, ear protectors (water polo caps work well), fins, a glove (heavy gardening gloves work well) and a stick. Most teams will give you a stick. The rest you can probably find in your basement, or at a good garage sale.

dotDon't worry about drowning. Nobody has yet, and everybody takes safety in and outside the pool seriously.

Yes, you can get hurt in all sorts of weird and wonderful ways. If your mask is too tight, you may end up looking like a raccoon when you take it off. A lead puck can leave some nasty bruises, and you can pass out if you come up for air too quickly.

dotThis point is obvious, but cannot be stressed enough. You have to be comfortable in and around water.

Associations

Underwater Society of America
Internethttp://www.underwater-society.org/

Links

Underwater Hockey at Ohio State University
Includes video footage

Underwater Hockey in the U.S.
Includes rules, training manuals and lists of upcoming tournaments and events

Underwater Hockey Tourist around the Worldy
Check out this big list of links