Have you ever played hockey and thought to yourself- you know what this needs? A larger stick? No. A bigger ball? Nope, that’s not it. Ah! I’ve got it- it needs to be wetter!
I don’t know about your high school hockey team, but there was always enough moisture to go around once several burly girls had heaved themselves about a field with big sticks for an hour. But then again I did go to a convent school and deodorant was classed as a ‘beauty product’ and severely frowned upon, so maybe my experience differed somewhat to yours.
Yes, underwater hockey is just like regular hockey but with a pool load of water thrown in for extra resistance. Some would say genius- others unnecessary- but let’s take a look at the sport in a little more detail.
Underwater hockey is a limited contact sport where the pusher has to send a puck from one end of the pool to the other with a tiny hockey stick to score a goal for their team. The only contact being of the lens variety which bob about in the pool water when players forget to remove them.
Unsurprisingly, the players are not allowed to use scuba diving apparatus because, well, it’s a little cumbersome. Just a snorkel is permitted so that participants can keep their heads under the water to observe the action when they aren’t on the pool floor. I have never watched a match before, but I’m guessing for the spectators- it just looks like everyone's enjoying a good ol’ splash about in the water.
It all began in the UK in 1954, when during the winter months, there was less interest in outdoor diving (shocking given the toasty winters we have here in Britain) and the owner was looking for something else to keep the punters coming back to the pool.
Back then it was called ‘Octopush’ as the game had eight players- hence the ‘octo’- but that name has lost its appeal- can’t think why- and not many people refer to it as this anymore. Underwater Hockey does exactly what it says on the tin whereas Octopush sounds a little like a student you get your gear from on a Marine Biology course at Uni.
Basically- think back to when you were little and learning to swim. After practising your front crawl and figuring out how to breathe properly when doing the butterfly, the instructor often chucked a quid into the bottom of the pool and you had to hold your breath and dive down to get it. Underwater Hockey is a little bit like that but instead of picking it up, imagine you had to push it across the plaster laden floor to the other end with a big spoon. Top points still go to the person who finds a tenner that some dad lost out of his trunks earlier that day.
In terms of attire, the rule is you must wear swimwear that doesn’t drag or fan out in the water. Why? Because it might snag on someone’s equipment and be torn off your body in the heat of the game and there isn’t much demand for Naked Underwater Hockey- it’s a bit niche. Well, maybe somewhere on the internet…
So if your sport is currently hockey, why not mix things up a bit and give the underwater version a go? If you lose the game- just pee in the vicinity of your opponent- that will get them raging!