USA Underwater Hockey
   

starting a team

Welcome to the sport of underwater hockey, played by more than 1,000 people on 50+ teams in the United States, and in more than 20 countries all over the world. Players come in all ages and sizes, and everyone is welcome to come try it out. Underwater hockey is a fast-paced game played on the bottom of the pool, requiring players to communicate nonverbally and rely on their teammates for success.

Interested in starting up an underwater hockey club? Here are a few main steps to follow to get your team going:

1) This is a legitimate sport: The most common question you will be asked is: "you play what?" Be ready to show off our website at www.usauwh.com. If you have an opportunity to meet with people to discuss use of pool facilities, make sure they are aware of our website. A great deal of information is collected here. Be familiar with this site so you can answer questions or point out pertinent information. If you have any questions about the website, or have any suggestions for additional helpful content, make sure you contact the National Development Director (listed on the Contact page).

2) Find open water: To find a pool to play in, visit all the local aquatic facilities you can think of, including colleges, YMCA pools, fitness clubs and Park Districts. Keep track of which pools would be best for underwater hockey- smooth, flat bottom; good depth- and contact these facilities first.

Set up a meeting with the pool manager or aquatic director. It may take some convincing to be allowed use of the pool, since most people aren't familiar with the sport. Come prepared with our introductory video and some hockey equipment to describe the sport. Possible damages to the facility will be of concern to the pool manager, so make sure you show the recommendations from other aquatic directors. Also, provide the facility administrator with information on how to contact USA Underwater Hockey with any other questions or concerns.

Be prepared to fill out forms, such as ones for insurance and general liability. If the underwater hockey club you are forming is going to be an affiliate of a high school or university, it may be necessary to have a faculty sponsor or to create a club constitution. The director of the facility should be able to help you with this, or at least inform you of the best person to contact for assistance.

Be aware that most facilities are booked tightly with classes, swim teams, and other rentals, so there may be limited timeslots available. Try to be reasonable with your time requests, and take the times they have to offer. Remember that one hour, once a week is a better starting point than no pool time at all.

3) Get equipped: Once you find a pool, you will need to collect equipment to outfit beginning players. In underwater hockey, players wear fins, masks, snorkels, headgear, and gloves. The fins are important for speed and power during play, masks make the game visible, and the snorkel allows individuals to stay involved in the game even when they surface for air. Headgear, mouth guards, and gloves are worn for protection.

Underwater hockey pucks are shaped similarly to ice hockey pucks and weigh roughly three pounds. The pucks are weighted to stay on the pool bottom. The one-handed sticks used to maneuver and shoot the puck are about one foot in length, and made of wood or plastic.

The facility you use may have some snorkeling equipment available for your team, but be prepared to supply your own. To help new clubs, the USA Underwater Hockey offers an underwater hockey "Club in a Box" on the website (www.usauwh.com/media). This package includes 14 pairs of sticks, protective ear and mouth guards, gloves, and pucks, all for a low price. A "Club in a Box" will help you get started by supplying the basic, necessary equipment that is nearly impossible to track down in stores. There are a few restrictions on ordering a "Club in a Box", so make sure you read them over. Our website also features: a link to Leisure Pro, a USA Underwater Hockey sponsor, which sells fins, masks, and snorkels for cheap; and a list of individuals that make underwater hockey-specific equipment - such as sticks, gloves, and pucks.


Club in the Box

4) Recruit players: Once you have found your pool and have some equipment on hand, it's time to start forming your team. Some of the simplest places to recruit players are local swimming teams - both age-group and master programs - as well as local scuba shops. Individuals who are already comfortable spending time in the water are easier to draw in. Posting signs and flyers around the pool building will help bring attention to your club. You can also get permission to put up information at area stores and bulletin boards.

Check to see if there is a section of craigslist.org for your community. A weekly post to the 'activity partners' classified lists can prove to be a fantastic recruiting tool. Online social-networking sites and your own club's website can also be helpful to increase the exposure of your club and attract potential players. Be sure to specify that underwater hockey caters to individuals of all ages, shapes, and abilities. Link videos to show your new players what the sport entails.

Make sure you have all new players sign the waiver that is provided on the website. This helps with liability for everyone involved. You may also need to collect other waivers required by the pool. When new players are hooked, encourage them to sign up as due paying members of USA Underwater Hockey. Dues are relatively inexpensive and the benefits are great. They allow individuals to play in any tournament as well as access products provided by our national organization. This fee can be easily incorporated into any dues that you have for your club.

5) Retain players: To get repeat players, try to make their early practices as comfortable and fun as possible. Remember that your loaner gear will be awkward for everyone. Make sure experienced players are willing and available to help with the many gear problems that will arise, and to answer questions. If you can, consider assigning an experienced player to mentor each beginning player throughout the whole practice. Above all, be friendly and vocal, and welcome beginners to our close-knit sport community.

6) Host a clinic: A clinic is a great way for beginners to improve their skills and learn from more experienced players. You can bring your team to a clinic at a nearby club, or even host your own. Hosting your own clinic is easier than you think, and can serve to bring local recognition to your team and the sport of underwater hockey. If possible, try to host or participate in a clinic within the first year of starting your team. You can contact the National Development Director for support and more information about hosting an underwater hockey clinic.

7) Game time: Once you have a consistent group of players that are motivated and have a grasp of the game and skills, consider attending a tournament. The best way for your team to improve their game is to play the game. If the team is interested in competing, there are many regional tournaments throughout the year. The tournament calendar is posted on the website. There are also annual national tournaments (including the US National Championships) that are open to any and all US teams.

8) Don't stop recruiting: Even after you generate interest about underwater hockey and form a solid team, keep seeking more players. Word of mouth is one of the most effective ways of expanding your team- tell your players to bring their friends, co-workers, etc. Keep flyers posted and update websites with current practice times and team information.

9) Keep it fun: Organize team dinners or other social events for after practice. This will foster a team environment and keep your players coming back for more. The nature of competitive sports can sometimes make things intense, so encourage the team to partake in relaxed outings where they can discuss the game or simply interact to make the experience more enjoyable.

The Development Board thanks you for your interest in underwater hockey. We offer the following items to help you get started:

  • Underwater hockey brochures
  • Underwater hockey postcard
  • Underwater Hockey Played Here poster (minimal cost)
  • Club in a Box (minimal cost)
  • Introductory underwater hockey DVD
  • Underwater hockey Beginner's DVD (minimal cost)
  • The support of the national organization

Please visit our website at www.usauwh.com and see what is available. You can also contact the National Development Director if you have any questions. Welcome to our sport!


Insurance issues

Our insurance year is 1 Aug thru 31 July. Cost to cover first pool/event is $600; and additional is $400 each. Need to know the EXACT wording pool/event owner wants to see on certificate of insurance - this varies by entity often depending on type of ownership: recreation dept, university, county, etc.

We pro rate after 1 February, but minimum cost is $100 as it costs us no matter how much or little time left in insurance year.

Policy is $2 million aggregate. For specific questions, contacting the insurance would be best as USOA is in no way conversant in contract and/or insurance questions.

Insurance is year long - we don't have access to 'event' or 1-2 day insurance. Once insured, it is good for the year and cannot be cancelled. This is basic slip/fall liability insurance; it does NOT cover club, council, whatever unless payment made to add club/council as also insured. Sample certificates are available for review upon request.

All clubs/councils using USOA insurance for sports event/pool/play/practice must have ALL participants sign waiver of liability - underwater hockey waiver is on website, and can be modified for other underwater sports and other events (ie. film festival, dinner, party, etc) rugby, skin, etc. Also insuring entity - ie. rugby club, hockey club, dive council, etc - must have 10 paid USOA members and be official USOA club/council.

We have a fairly liberal but yet limited number of added insureds It takes about 10 working days to get certificate for new added insureds; renewals from previous year just roll over, but new certificates are issued each year and sent directly to each/all insured parties with copies to me and then I copy on to entity.

Payment can be made by credit card, check or paypal. Make check to USOA and send to my home address: Carol Rose, president 53C Appian Way So San Francisco CA 94080 Email: croseusoa@aol.com Contact me for credit card/paypal instructions.

USOA dues are $15, and hockey players add addition $10 for Development Fund.
($25 total) Dues year is calendar - 1 Jan. with NO pro rating except dues paid after 15 Oct., carry through full following year. Each member club/council must initially be approved by USOA Board of Governors; an organizing document is required which must include non discrimination clause and may not provide for any distribution of funds, in any case or amount, to member(s). These are IRS regulations.


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