Welcome to the world of Octopush, better known now as Under Water Hockey!!
Originally called Octopush (still known by that name in the UK today) the original rules called for teams of eight players (hence "octo-"), a bat reminiscent of a tiny shuffleboard stick called a "pusher" (hence the "-push"), an uncoated lead puck called a "squid", and a goal known at first as a "cuttle" but soon thereafter a "gulley".
Underwater Hockey (UWH) was started in the United Kingdom by Alan Blake in 1954
and has been in Australia from about the 1960's-70's with the first Australian Championships held in 1975, and has been steadily growing in popularity ever since.
UWH has a great following from the Spearing and Free-dive community as they can put the breath hold skills required to free-dive or spear to use in another form of underwater fun. Players who tend to be most successful in this game are strong swimmers, have a great ability to hold and recover their breath, and are able to produce great speed underwater whilst using skills in puck control. Team work is also key to a successful outcome of this sport.
Basically there are two teams with about 10 a side. Only six of the team may be in the water at one time, three are offensive players or forwards and three are defensive players or backs, subbing in and out the others players when needed. Teams are broken up into colours generally being black hockey sticks and white white hockey sticks.
Each team starts on the wall of their opponents goal area while the puck is placed in the middle of the pool. Once the ref signals game on, its all in to get the puck to your goal end!!
While it may look like a free for all there are actually rules that players must follow, so not to get a penalty. There are a number of penalties in underwater hockey, ranging from use of the stick against something (or someone! Not recommended) other than the puck, playing or stopping the puck with something other than the stick, and guarding a player to put yourself between a team-mate who has the puck and an opponent.
Like in football, if a penalty is minor a ref will award an advantage, the team that committed the foul is pushed back 3 meters from the puck, while the other team gets free possession. For major penalties, such as a dangerous flick (don't aim at or near an opponent's head!), intentional or repeated fouls a referee can sin bin players for a period of time or for the remainder of the game. A defender committing a serious foul sufficiently close to his own goal may be penalized by the award of a penalty shot or a penalty goal to the fouled player's team.
Games consist of two halves generally ten to fifteen minutes in length.
So what do you need to start playing UWH??
Well you will first need a mask and snorkel and some safety gear like a mouth guard, glove and a head cap (like a water polo cap or swimming cap).
You will also need a stick, when you buy these you will generally get two: one black one white. It's also handy to get yourself a puck so you can practice at home or a pool, but also in case you need a puck on game day. Pucks will generally be about 1.5kg and have numerous coloured coatings.
Most important piece of equipment....... Your Penetrator Sub Sport UWH fins of course!
Just like your free-dive or spearing fins you will need particular fins blades for UWH.
The fin for UWH is much shorter than other fins as it is needed for speed and power in a short rapid movement. Therefore UWH fin blades only come in two strengths, Medium - most popular choice and Hard. Foot pockets are glued and fixing kits are applied to the fin to keep it extra secure, in International Games a polymer layer is stuck over the top and bottom of the fin to prevent injury to players if one happens to be broken during play. This rarely happens and only tends to happen when kicked accidentally on a wall or pushing off the bottom of the pool during active game play. Others tend to be broken if not removed before walking away from pool edge to seating benches when subbing.
So does Under Water Hockey sound like the game for you? There are lots of teams to join in every state and territory in Australia, simply type in to Facebook or Google Underwater Hockey and your location and you will get a great choice of teams to check out.
This year we have again supported and sponsored the Cairns Crays Comp so head to their Facebook page to show your support!! I have attached the promo for everyone to look at. Up for grabs at the Comp is a pair of our Sub Sport UWH Fins!
For all your Underwater Hockey fins needs click below to buy.
#notsotrustysidekick would like to thank the ABC in Canberra for their video and UWH Australia for the group photo of UWH players. Research obtained through various sources, UWH Australia and UK.