By Michel Langlois / Photo : Marc Brakels

A sport to discover

At first glance, underwater hockey seems to come out of nowhere. However, there are several clubs in Quebec. It is practiced throughout Canada, and at least 30 countries, spread over five continents, are involved. Even if underwater hockey is not yet an Olympic sport, every two years since 1980, the World Championships sanctioned by the World Confederation of Underwater Activities are held. In Canada, the Canadian Underwater Games Association has the mandate to develop this young sport. In Quebec, it is Québec Subaquatique.

Since Canada's 1986 gold medal win in Australia, underwater hockey has grown considerably in this country. Results like these were not the only ones for Canada. There was bronze in 1988, 1990 and 2000 for the men, and silver successively in 2000 and 2002 for the women. Quebec athletes have always represented a large part of the Canadian contingent. From 1986 to 1990, almost 100%, since 1998 an average of 75%, if not more. On the Canadian scene, long dominated by British Columbia before 1986, Quebec is undoubtedly the most medal-winning province in the country. Quebec, like the rest of Canada, also has its share of local competitions. Montreal's John F. Kennedy Aquatic Club has been holding a major annual tournament since 1993, while Quebec City is in its 8th year. On the recreational side, underwater hockey is played in Montreal, Quebec City, Rimouski, Sherbrooke, at the university, at the CEGEP, at the local high school and even in some diving clubs.

To enjoy this sport, you must participate

If so much is being done, then why is underwater hockey so little known to the general public? The answer is simple. In its practice, underwater hockey is not a fiction. Once you are in the water, you can appreciate the dynamics of the sport. For the spectator, it is perhaps closer to a virtual reality because of its unorthodox accessibility. Let's just say that you don't go to the pool like you go to the arena to watch an underwaterhockey game. To experience the sport, you have to participate or have access to it through video. On the other hand, it is not well known because there are few television or radio reports devoted to it. In truth, isn't amateur sport in Quebec the poor relation of the sports media? We prefer to discuss the fate of the millionaires of professional sports.

Where does underwater hockey come from?

Invented in England in 1954 by the late Mr. Alan Blake, who passed away on August 14, 2000, underwater hockey was first introduced in the Commonwealth. The sport was born out of the need for diving enthusiasts to stay in shape during the winter. Long before the first official regulations appeared in the mid-1960s, friendly matches were held between clubs. In the early days, the game was very basic and consisted of pushing a brass puck with a small wooden fork.

After twenty years of pushing pucks and arm wrestling along the pool walls, a new model of stick revolutionized the game of field hockey. Since then, times have changed with the advent of improved diving products, polyethylene covered pucks and especially the democratization of the stick shape. In Quebec, it was Mr. Rodrigue Sarrazin who imported underwater hockey to the province following a diving trip to the United States some thirty years ago. Who knows what diving can bring?

How do we play?

Often, many people mistakenly imagine us in a vertical position with an ice hockey stick, when in fact we are in a horizontal position, moving parallel to the bottom of the pool equipped with fins, a mask, a snorkel, a glove and a 30 centimeter stick. But don't look for sticks, gloves or pucks in sports stores. With the exception of diving equipment, field hockey enthusiasts make their own equipment. Pucks are imported from countries such as France, England and especially Australia. In fact, the puck, always at the bottom, is 1.5 kg. Placed at each end of the pool, the goals profiled like a dust holder are three meters long. Identified by the color of the water polo cap and stick, each team consists of ten players: six in the water and four substitutes. The control of a match is done under the care of three referees. Two of them are in the water to ensure that the rules are respected, and another one is outside the water and uses a sound signal to control the start or stop of the game according to the signals of the referees in the water. In regulation time, a game lasts 33 minutes, that is to say two periods of fifteen minutes separated by a half-time of three minutes during which the teams change sides.

Comparisons with water polo and sometimes even with scuba diving are numerous, but false. In underwater hockey, there is no ball, no lead belt, no long snorkel, no air cylinder. Underwater hockey is played in a depth of more or less two meters. The playing surface is 25 by 15 meters, with a center line, two elliptical zones of six and three meters in front of each goal.

The tactical game is very similar to ice hockey. However, the players play very close to each other, as a pass is on average three meters long. There is no goalie at the net. Instead, he or she progresses with the rest of the team. The rules issued by the CMAS forbid any physical contact against an opponent, and any rigid equipment. The rules of the game are based on the idea that only the stick can make contact with the puck. No checking is possible (due to the resistance of the water), and no hooking is tolerated. Underwater hockey is not an extreme sport.

Who can plan underwater hockey ?

Like any sport, underwater field hockey has its cardiovascular requirements. But it is wrong to think that you have to stay at the bottom of the water for a long time to be a good underwater hockey player. It is a sport accessible to all. To learn more about its history, its regulations or its practice, visit the many sites on the net using the keywords "underwater hockey ». Or to try it, contact Québec Subaquatique.

The clubs


Facebook : /GOUnderwaterHockey
Facebook public site : /92940400802
Website :


Facebook : /CAMOhockeysousmarin
Email :


Facebook : /clubHSQ
Website :


Facebook private site : /161634483951091


Facebook : /hsmSherbrooke
UdeS Registration : /club-de-hockey-subaquatique


See Fermont city website :