By Athlete Ambassador, Lesley Maisey
Underwater what? This is the common response when I mention the sport of underwater hockey. Yes, it is a sport, the ultimate team sport really, as it’s fast paced and played at the bottom of a pool.
In this anaerobic environment, teams play 6 a side and sub on the fly. They wear mask, snorkel, fins and there is no goalie as the only oxygen comes from the short breathing breaks on the surface. The colour of the water polo cap and stick denote whether your team is black or white; the glove on the stick hand provides some protection from the physicality of the sport. Rough spots on shoulders, elbows, knees come from contact with the pool bottom and other bumps, bruises and scratches from contact with others. The puck weighs about 3lbs and the tactics similar to ice hockey, lacrosse or basketball.
The team at a clinic in San Jose
I don’t play this sport. As a triathlete, I prefer to be on the surface of the water rather than at a depth of 7-14 feet battling it out for 20-45 seconds at a time. My exposure to this sport came through my spouse. Rob has played for years, first in England, now here in Canada, and has been the coach for the Canadian Elite Men’s team for the past 5 years.
As an athlete and ambassador for Hammer Nutrition Canada, I had the pleasure of working with Rob’s team at a preparatory clinic and tournament in Hawaii in September. I developed a sport specific dynamic warm up and provided them with tips on fueling for sport and recovery. I had the opportunity to educate both the Canadian and USA Elite Women’s teams on nutrition as well during my five days in tropical paradise with the underwater hockey crowd.
These teams are now in the early stages of international competition in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Over the next two weeks they will face some strong competition with players from New Zealand, Australia, France and England to name a few. It’s a tough spectator sport but if you can get in the pool, it’s an amazing thing to watch! Underwater cameras at the larger tournaments provide those on deck with a sample of what’s happening at the bottom.
Their in-sport nutrition requirements are different than mine for triathlon due to the explosive nature of underwater hockey. The games are usually two 12-15 minute halves played at a frenetic pace. One or two games a day is common for international tournaments. Here are some of the Hammer products the Canadian players will be using to fuel their bodies:
HEED: this powdered sports drink with complex carbohydrates provides consistent, long-lasting energy and electrolytes to sustain the fast pace required.
ENDUROLYTES FIZZ: added to water, these effervescent tablets provide full spectrum electrolyte support. Maintaining proper muscular, digestive, nervous and cardiac function requires more than just salt, especially in the heat they will experience in Stellenbosch. Electrolyte balance will be important to prevent cramps (common in the legs due to extra torque on calves wearing fins).
GELS: to top up blood sugar levels 10-15 minutes before game time. These are easy to digest and contain complex carbohydrates and amino acids to enhance performance and sustain energy during these intense games.
RECOVERITE: recovering fully at the end of each day during a two week competition is critical. The players will use this to restore muscle glycogen, reduce muscle fatigue and tenderness, and assist muscle repair.
Best of luck to the Canadian teams in Stellenbosch!