Underwater hockey is a great sport (yes a real sport) played on the bottom of a (usually tiled) swimming pool.

It is played all over the world and currently Australia is world Champions (as of world championships in year 2000).

Players use standard snorkel gear (mask, snorkel, flippers) and a stick about 8 inches in length that is used horizontally on the bottom of the pool. A plastic coated lead puck is pushed and flicked around, the aim being to get the puck in the opposing teams goal.

Teams consist of 6 players in water and up to 4 subs.

People who play develop high cardiovascular fitness levels and team skills like any other team sport. Its great cross training for any water sport, in fact it was apparently designed by British divers to increase fitness.

Underwater hockey started in Britain in the late nineteen-seventies as a way for divers to retain their fitness durning the winter months, when it was too cold to dive.

To begin with, the sport was only played by sub-aqua clubs, but over time specific Octopush (the other name for the sport) clubs started to spring up. Surfers and spear-fishermen proved to be particularly adept.

Whilst there are men's and women's competitions, many teams are mixed, and few (if any) distinctions are drawn between the genders.

Teams are made up of six players, the sticks are called "pushers" and the puck is a "squid"

As a spectator sport, Octopush is very dull, unless you have a clear-sided swimming pool, since all the audience can see is jets of water as players clear their snorkels. However, it is fast paced, exciting, and fun.

In my day, (I played in the early eighties) coming up behind someone and wrenching their mask off was considered a prime tackling technique, but I suspect greater regulation and organisation has put paid to that practice, these days.

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