Underwater hockey (UWH), also referred to as Octopush, is a sport played by two teams who compete to push a puck across the bottom of a pool into the opposing team’s goal, using a hockey stick or pusher. The players are not allowed to use breathing devices and, while playing, they must hold their breath.
The sport is played worldwide, and the governing body is Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques or CMAS. UWH was invented in the UK in 1954, to help train divers and has grown enormously in popularity since then.
There are six players per side and the object is to dash for the puck and move it along the pool floor toward a goal that is 3 meters wide. There are no goalies – each side uses teamwork to defend and score and it is a no-contact sport. The game is adjudicated by two referees who watch for fouls and goals and players can be sent to a penalty box. The pool is typically 25 x 15 meters with a depth of 2-4 meters.
Players wear a snorkel and a thick glove made from latex to protect the hand from the pool bottom and the puck, and large fins and carry a pusher stick. When the game begins, there is a mad rush to the bottom of the pool for the puck which is situated in the middle of the pool floor. To succeed at UWH, you need to be able to hold your breath for long periods and you must be a strong swimmer.
Such a Cool Game
In Cairns, Underwater Association’s hockey coordinator, Sean Hartley, describes the game as being ideal for the tropics because usually, when you play a sport in the tropics, you get hot and sweaty but with underwater hockey, there is no sweating and discomfort. He also states that while an underwater hockey stick is only 30 centimeters long, really good players can advance the puck 4 meters underwater.
UWH is currently played in more than 40 countries with an estimated 15 000 participants. The leading underwater hockey nations are South Africa, Colombia, New Zealand, Great Britain, France, Turkey, and Australia and although it is recognized by the International Olympic Committee, it is yet to join field hockey and ice hockey at the Olympic games.
Hold Your Breath
Underwater hockey is an excellent sport for people who want to push themselves to the limit and if that’s not for you, you can always play the games at Black Lotus Casino instead.
It is not for the fainthearted because getting the timing of your breathing correct, while working effectively with your team, is very challenging. The game can be played by people of all ages, and it does not cause the type of injuries you incur from running, stopping suddenly, or being run into. Every game is different and exciting – teamwork and anticipation are essential qualities along with moving in water, controlling the puck, and the need to breathe.
Most players can stay underwater for 20 to 30 seconds but there are some who will stay underwater for two to three minutes to defend their goal which, according to a long-time player, gets easier the more you play. People who dive repeatedly develop higher lung volumes than normal but in addition to lung capacity you must be excellent at reading the game and, because you cannot communicate underwater, you must be able to bring out the best in others and know your team members inside and out.