Octopush is a lively game that we sometimes play in Ipswich on Thursday pool nights.
Any Sunstar member can play and we are always keen to welcome new players who have never played before. If you would like to join in, please contact the Diving Officer to arrange a session. This is most likely to run at 8.30pm or after 9.00pm when the Octopush club have use of the pool.
Everybody is welcome to play. You will need a hat and a bat to play. The hats are essential as they have plastic ear defenders built-in to protect your ears. You must not enter the pool without a hat during an Octopush game.
Gloves are also useful as they save you scraping your knuckles on the bottom of the pool. If you have your own bats or gloves please bring them along. Pool fins are essential as they are smaller and less dangerous than sea fins...
It is very good practice for snorkelling and it certainly helps to keep you fit although the first few weeks should be fairly gentle.
Octopush was invented in in 1954, by a British scuba diver to keep his fellow divers fit over the winter months. It originally had 8 players on each team, hence the name Octopush, but teams now comprise 6 players with up to 4 substitutes. In practice we often play with 3 or 4 per side.
The teams are identified by their bat colours (and hat colours if we have enough hats of each colour to do that).
It is a non-contact sport and it is always best to pass the puck before being tackled rather than ending up trying to push the puck against an opponent. Good players can flick the puck over 3m (you need to push with your whole body as well as your arm and try to flick it at the same time. Some players twist their bat slightly to lift the back of the puck off the bottom).
It isn't really a spectator sport as it is quite difficult to see what is happening underwater without the luxury of a glass sided-pool, although games have appeared on TV.
Octopush is played competitively in thirty countries world-wide and while
the British cling tenaciously to the Octopush name, most countries prefer
to call it underwater hockey.
Since most pools slope from the shallow end to the deep end it can be argued that one team has an advantage. In practice this isn't as great as you might think but it is wise to swap sides at half time.
If you are away from home you can often 'Grab a game' with another club. Have a look at this web site for details: www.reedconsulting.com/octopush/grab-uk.html
The text below is rather out-of-date. Try the British Octopush Association who have an on-line shop.
Lots of people Email to ask about buying Octopush equipment. Our club has a small supply of hats for Sunstar members and you can also buy them from The Swim Shop in Luton, (01582 562111).
The bats are more difficult and most people make their own using a jig saw or band saw to cut the shape out from a hard wood or plastic. The dimensions can be found on the web site listed below.
The puck are quite difficult to find. I'm told that ice hockey pucks are no good as they are too light.
The best fins to use are ALA fins, available from most dive shops including Galaxsea (01473 711818) or Diveline (tel 01473 715533) for around £50. They are quite large and enable you to swim quite fast and they feel different to smaller fins. They are also made of rubber so when they wear they don't produce sharp edges like plastic fins do. This means that your fellow Octopush players will thank you when you kick them in the face.
Octopush can be quite overwhelming the first couple of times you play, particularly as it can be a very and dis-orientating. Don't give up though, with a little perseverence you'll soon grow to love the game.
When you duck dive you need to get right down on the bottom of the pool and stay there. If you are only half-way down and reaching for the puck at arm's length an opponent will simply swim underneath you.
Practice your passing technique and try to push with your whole body and shoulder as well as your arm. The puck should roll along your bat and if you finish the flick with a slight twist, you should be able to lift the back end of the puck slighlty to make it go further.
Always try to cover your team mates. If somebody looks like they might be tackled get down beside them ready to accept a pass - don't wait on the surface where they won't see you.
When there are four or more players it is a good idea to have a defender who can cover the goal and at least give other team members a chance to move back and defend.
When playing with a full complement of 6 players it is best to have 2 forwards, 1 centre middle field, 2 half back and one full back. The 2 forwards and one centre player shouldn't ever move right back into defence as it is their job to clear the puck and push it fowards when the defence pass to them.
Practice controlling the puck so that it 'sticks' to your bat. You should be able to make it move all around your bat from the outside to the inside and back again without losing contact. If you can do this without looking at it you'll be able to look around you at the same time.
When an opponent is receiving a pass, attack straight away before they have chance to look around or co-ordinate themselves. They'll generally be too busy concentrating on the puck and won't see you coming.
Attacking players shouldn't be afraid to move backwards and even pass the puck back if they are being tackled heavily. Ideally a forward should be able to pass to the mid-field who can pass to another forward on the other side of the pool.