Introductory course


Learn and practice the basic skills of underwater hockey in a structured five session course. This course is offered once a year.


Students must be comfortable swimming on the surface and underwater. We'll discuss gear the first week. You need a swimsuit and towel. We provide mask, snorkel, fins, stick, glove and ear guards though you may bring your own if you please. While the course is intended for total beginners you will likely learn a lot if you've played less than 6 months.


Monday evenings 7:00 - 8:45pm starting September 9 (a week after Labor Day) and ending October 7. Arrive at 7 so you have a few minutes to get changed. Each week we'll start with instruction on the deck, then in the water and end with a scrimmage from 8:00-8:45.


King Pool, 5701 3rd St (At Carroll Ave, near Candlestick Park). The front door is normally closed, go to the door on the north side of the building, on the path to the playground.


Register closed. The fee will be applied towards subsequent hockey practices if you attend at least four of the classes.


We're going to move things around a little but this is what we'll cover and the general order.

General Skills & Technique Rules & Strategy Goals
Week 1 Introduction
USAUWH guidelines
Equipment: mask, snorkel, fins, stick, glove and ear guards
Kicking fins and clearing the snorkel
Duck dive
Pushing the puck forward
Basic rules & etiquette
Enjoy your first game safely and comfortably.
Week 2 History of UWH
The strike
The curl
The flick
Kelp dive
Basic game strategy
The 3-3 formation

Hold your own as a team member.
Week 3 Cencal, USA UWH
UWH worldwide
Competitive UWH
Stick maneuvers: tic-tac, 8, V
Body positioning
Moving the puck in slalom course
3-3 review
Scoring and defending: 2 on 1
Develop awareness of the game.
Increase skills.
Week 4
Basic stick maneuvers review
Toolbox: the "6"
Advantage and equal pucks
Formations other than 3-3
Understand and leverage game dynamics.
Week 5
Inside flick
Toolbox: the half-moon (aka the "9")
Wall game
Containing on the wall and opening with an end-around
Become a player to watch out for.

Google Spreadsheet 


Week 1, Sept 9

Goal: Enjoy your first game safely and comfortably.

  • Welcome

    • who I am, what I do, why I’m qualified to teach you
    • your name, make up a sport that doesn't exist
  • goals and rules of the game

    • 2 teams of 6 players

    • push puck in goal with stick and stick only

    • don’t push or block anybody with your body

    • stick tapping == stop game

  • Safety

    • following the Safety Guidelines you signed

    • most common injuries are bruises and cuts

      • you will get kicked

    • your face near somebody’s fins == kicks in the face

      • people flip around quickly

      • use arms as shield

    • keep your face up and flicks away from heads

      • watch for flying pucks

  • Equipment:

    • mask: keep it on your face, defog with dish soap

    • snorkel: must have mouth guard, valve optional

    • fins: the simpler the better, finkeepers, socks

    • glove: either right or left

    • stick: white or black, single-handed use only (it ain’t a bat)

    • ear guards: put them on, attach your snorkel to one side

  • In-water skills

    • clear a snorkel

      • big blast of air: keep your air while under, release it all in one “explosion” at the surface

      • drain through mouthpiece

      • mention clearing while surfacing, but details for next week

    • pushing puck forward

      • stick curving towards you

      • body parallel to the bottom (“belly button against the bottom”)

        • if your feet breach, you’re kicking air: you’re doing it wrong

    • Duck dive: bend body in half at the waist, reach towards the bottom, keep hands straight and together, put feet up in the air

      • you should be able to touch the bottom without kicking or using your hands

Week 2, Sept 16

Goal: Hold your own as a team member.

  • Quick review from last week: rules, safety, basic puck skills.

  • Basic game strategy

    • zones

    • position: forwards, back, left/center (mid)/right

    • 3-3 formation: 3 forwards, 3 backs

      • Left, Center, Right

      • We call the person on the same side as the puck the "strong side" and the opposite the "weak side".
      • forwards as one horizontal line: left, right, center

        • within one pass of each other
      • Backs form a line from puck to goal with strong side at front and weak side at back
      • Q: do backs stay in our half?
        • everyone plays relative to the puck. all forwards move over when the puck is on the wall. all backs move up when into their half
  • History with Joey:

    • started in Britain in the 50s as “Octopush”

    • conquered Canada and Australia/NZ in the 60s

    • started in 70s in SF. You'd call Rich White to find out what pool he'd found
    • 1980: first World Championship

    • at MLK since 2008: good pool (not sloped), good relation with staff (mellow)


  • In-water skills:

    • Clearing the snorkel while surfacing, as seen during regular games. Practice with BOGDATs (Breath Once Go Down And Touch)

    • Curl

      • good defensive maneuver, but slow, and static

      • hips should graze bottom of pool

      • kick through the entire curl

      • forward curl, reverse curl

    • Flick

      • comes from the wrist

      • keep forearm bent

      • takes practice

Week 3, Sept 23

Goal: Develop awareness of the game. Increase skills.

On deck:
  • Advantage puck, when one team commits a foul, takes puck out

    • puck is placed at point of foul, at least 2m from side and 3m from end
    • Fouling team stays back 3 meters (a bit more than 1 swim lane) from puck
    • Team with advantage have forwards and strong back among other team, center back with puck, weak back behind puck towards goal
    • As soon as puck is moved fouling team can move forward and game resumes
  • Equal puck, when ref isn't sure. We often use this for out-of-bounds
    • everyone stays on surface with snorkel out of water, in area of pool behind the puck
    • center forward of each team is just behind the puck
    • someone shouts "ready, go!"
    • center forwards kelp dive quickly and push the puck back to their team
  • Next we tried a team drill, which in hindsight was way to complicated for this course: Carolyn's team Zdrill 3-3.
    Set up: Start on the 5 and 2 on right side. Line up in the 3-3 “7” formation.

    Rtfwd (on wall 7M), Cfwd (2M line),Lffwd (5M off the wall), --in a line

    Rtback (has puck on 5 and 2), Cback (off his/her hip to left), LFback (diagonal to them to goal 3M back).

    Walk through this on deck first, then in the water.

    Rtback has puck, passes forward to Rtfwd (who is on the wall), Cfwd swims near wall (about on what would be the 1M line) 45 in front of Rtfwd to accept a pass and turns (using a move to protect puck from defender) to left perpendicular to wall and passes to the Lffwd in a 45 back pass, Lffwd turns and passes back to Cback who is facing 45 degrees to left from the start. Cback swims directly toward left wall and passes to  back Lfback, who then passes forward (or a bit to the left and forward) to the Lffwd who has taken one breath and re-positions. The passing is reversed now with Cfwd swimming in front of Lffwd and turning in to right to pass to Rtfwd in a bit of a back pass to Cback who then passes to Rtback who then passes to Rtfwd to repeat from the start. This cycle continues until Center Forward can score a goal with 2 kicks or less. If that happens, Left Forward and Right Forward seal goals, strong side back moves up on their side of center forward and center back takes the other side. Last man back covers for defense. 

    ALL PASSES MUST BE GIVEN AFTER 2 kicks and only 2 kick

    s: If the pass is not given at the correct time the team goes back to the start.  If the receiver is not in the right place, they go back to start. All passes must land on the stick of the receiver, if that doesn’t occur, the team goes back to the beginning.

    Aim for teammates to practice passing to each other. Back passes must land on the stick of the person behind you. Start slow and then speed up the drill. Goals of drill is for teammates to learn body language of TIMING. Aim for really good passes, turns and speed.

    If the team will talk about it, they can give pointers as to how a pass would work better, positioning. This is not a play one would actually do in a game, but the ideas are there for parts of what will help score a goal in the end.

In the water: We tried the team Z drill. It was tough but get you passing the puck around the teams a lot

Week 4, Sept 30

On deck: got gear and got into the water, no faffing around!
In the water: 3 stations
  • Clearing snorkel, BOGDATs (breath once, go down and touch)
    • When clearing snorkel look up at the surface, exhale starting about 2 feet from surface and turn head down when mask is at surface. Et voilà, your snorkel is clear.
    • Kick from the hips, legs straight, knees almost locked.
  • 2 v 1
  • Tool box of puck handling moves

Week 5, Oct 7

On the deck:

  • Making gear: gloves and sticks are made by us for the perfect fit and the fun of making stuff with friends.
  • Worlds: Brigit told us a bit about world level competition. She and Amy just returned from a world competition in Hungary. The USA Women team was selected in early 2013 after the candidates met for some weekends of womens hockey. Criteria include puck handling, team play and fitness. Going to Worlds is pretty expensive, much self-financed with some money from the USA UWH organization. The Olympic committee recognizes UWH as a sport but there needs to be a national competition in at least 30(?) countries before they'll consider it, and they have to remove a sport to add a new one.
  • Subbing: make a hand-signal underwater when you are swimming out and an identical response and eye contact from the fresh player in the box. Normally we use terms far (open hand), middle/center (two fingers) and near (fist) rather than left and right. See also subbing out.
  • In the water: split into three teams, each with a mix of newer and older players, and take turns playing scrimmages and practicing skills.
  • Picture: