Underwater hockey, also referred to as Octopush, is essentially a game of hockey played on the floor of a swimming pool. Two teams go head-to-head to move a move across the bottom of a pool with a hockey stick; the aim being to get the puck in the opposing team’s goal.
While players wait for the game to start, they have to be in the water, touching the wall of the goal they are defending. The teams can have up to ten players but only six are in play at a time. When the buzzer initiates the start of the game, the players who are in play are free to swim anywhere. Play continues until a goal is scored.
Equipment for the sport includes diving masks, snorkels and fins, as well as a short hockey stick, which can he used in either hand.
Although the sport is limited-contact, there is still significant risk of injury. With the action taking place underwater, head injuries and loss of consciousness are life-threatening with the added potential of drowning.
Underwater hockey, as you imagine, is not very spectator friendly. Not many pools have underwater viewing ports, so spectators have to either get into the water and watch from a viewing area or rely on underwater videographers. For major tournaments, there is usually live footage.
Did you know…
- The sport was invented in the 50s as a way to keep open-water divers active during the cold winter months.
- The first Underwater Hockey World Cup took place in Canada in 1980.
- Specialised masks are used to enable underwater hockey players to equalise their ears and improve underwater vision.
- Players use their snorkels to breathe at the surface of the pool before diving down to play.
What do you think of underwater hockey? Let us know in the comments.