Underwater Hockey is usually played in a flat bottomed pool with a depth of between 6 and 8 feet. A plastic coated lead or brass puck weighing 3 pounds is pushed and shot along the bottom of the pool. Players use small (approximately 1 foot) wooden or plastic sticks to push and shoot. At each end of the playing area are two 10 foot troughs into which the puck is pushed in order to score a goal.
Players divide into two teams of usually 6 people. The teams are identified by the color of the player's sticks. One team is the "white team" who plays with white sticks while the "black team" plays with black colored sticks.
Players wear a mask and a snorkel. The mask allows good vision of the underwater playing area and the snorkel allows the player to breathe on the surface while still being able to look at and follow the play going on below them. Many new players wonder if a snorkel is necessary.......... it REALLY is!
A glove is worn on the player's hand that holds the stick in order to protect the hand from scraping the bottom of the pool or smacking into the puck.
UW hockey is known as a minimal contact sport so there is some incidental contact. However it is nothing close to what you may have seen during an ice hockey game.The water in the pool acts as a great shock absorber to keep contact safer than if it had occurred on land.
Play starts with the puck in the middle of the pool and both teams lined up on opposite ends of the playing area. Someone yells "Sticks Ready, GO!" and the teams sprint to the middle of the pool to obtain posession of the puck for their team. The puck is pushed and passed between team members until one team manages to push or shoot the puck into the opposing team's goal. Players are constantly diving and surfacing in synchronicity with other players on their team. The idea is to alternate with the other players on one's team rather than everyone being on the bottom at once, or what is worse, everyone being on the surface at once!