What is Underwater Hockey?
Underwater Hockey (UWH), also known as Octopush (mainly in the United Kingdom) is a globally played limited-contact sport in which two teams compete to manoeuvre a puck across the bottom of a swimming pool into the opposing team’s goal by propelling it with a hockey stick (pusher).
It originated in England in 1954 when Alan Blake, a founder of the newly formed Southsea Sub-Aqua Club, invented the game he called Octopush as a means of keeping the club’s members interested and active over the cold winter months when open-water diving lost its appeal.
Underwater hockey is now played worldwide, with the Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques, abbreviated CMAS, as the world governing body. The first Underwater Hockey World Championship was held in Canada in 1980
How is it played?
Two teams of up to ten players compete, with six players in each team in play at any one time. The remaining four players are continually substituted into play from a substitution area, which may be either on deck or in the water outside the playing area.
Before the start of play the puck is placed in the centre of the pool, and the players wait in the water whilst touching the wall above the goal they are defending. At the start-of-play signal members of both teams are free to swim anywhere in the play area and try to score by manoeuvring the puck into the opponents’ goal.
Players hold their breath as they dive to the bottom of the pool. Play continues until either a goal is scored, when players return to their wall to start a new point, or a break in play is signalled by a referee (whether due to a foul, a time-out, or the end of the period of play).
Games consist of two halves of typically ten to fifteen minutes and a short half-time interval of usually three minutes. At half time the two teams switch ends.
A typical playing formation is 3-3 (three offensive players or forwards, and three defensive players or backs) of which 3-2-1 (three forwards, two mid-fielders and a back) is a variation.
Often players who are 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 while demonstrating learned skills in puck control. It is also important that they are able to work well with their team members and take full advantage of their individual skills.
How do I get started?
St Albans Sub Aqua Club welcomes new players and those wishing to give it a go.
We have players in their teens, families and more mature players who have played for over 30 years
We have sessions at Westminster Lodge swimming pool on both Wednesday and Thursday evenings. An assessment of your current skills and training required takes place on a Thursday evening and we play games on a Wednesday evening.
In the first instance please email UWH@sasac.co.uk for further information.
We look forward to welcoming you
Testimonial – Diver and member of SASAC for 33 years
Once I completed my initial dive training (in 1987) I was looking for something else within the club to keep me active on Wednesday club nights.
Whilst I was doing my pool training I was always fascinated by what was going on at the far end of the pool
It was Underwater Hockey and I thought I must give this a go. That was 33 years ago, and I have not looked back since.
In my youth I was not particularly a ‘sporty’ person but I instantly took to UWH.
It’s a great team game and quite unique in that it invites players of mixed gender and a wide age range.
Whilst I choose to play at club level only, I have in the past played in a regional competition which was a great experience.
It really pushes me and keeps me fit, especially in terms of my breathing and lung capacity. I still dive, albeit infrequently and only when abroad, but I can almost guarantee that I will surface from a dive with more air in my tank than any other diver (unless they play UWH too!)
I thoroughly recommend UWH and really look forward to my Wednesday night game.