Basic Skills - for new and beginning players

Breathing with a Snorkel - If you've never breathed through a snorkel before, it will take some getting used to. First, be sure your snorkel is securely attached to your mask strap or headgear to prevent it from flopping around. While swimming on the surface, take smooth, deep breaths through the snorkel, trying not to inhale too abruptly (doing so will suck any water that may be sloshing in the bottom of the snorkel into your mouth!) When swimming below the surface, your snorkel will inevitably fill up with water - this is normal. Use your lips, teeth, and the pressure of the air in your lungs to keep the water out of your mouth (this sounds complicated, but really isn't and, in fact, you'll probably find yourself doing it without thinking). The tricky part comes when you return to the surface and want to take a breath. As you reach the surface, you'll need to exhale sharply and forcefully to expel the water from the snorkel BEFORE you can take that first breath. There are a few things that will help you learn this skill: First, come up sooner than you think you should - if you're already desperate for air, it will be that much harder to concentrate on clearing the snorkel. Second, begin exhaling slightly before you get to the surface - just the way a swimmer exhales with his or her mouth underwater, you'll want to start exhaling early so that you can breathe IN once your snorkel tip is out of the water. Third, tip your head back as you exhale, so your snorkel is angling backwards instead of pointing straight up. This will make it a little easier to push the water out. Finally, just as when you're swimming on the surface, remember inhale SMOOTHLY to avoid sucking any water left in the snorkel into your mouth. Practice will help with all of this, and it's definitely worth getting the hang of it - once you can breathe comfortably with the snorkel, you'll be able to concentrate much more on playing hockey!

Swimming on the bottom - Practice getting your body flat on the bottom (chest, stomach, hips, knees should be close to, or even touching, the bottom of the pool). Starting from the surface, bend yourself at the hips so your head is down. As your body starts to sink, use one strong dolphin kick (both legs together working like a dolphin's tail) to push yourself down the rest of the way. Once you're on the bottom, bend your knees a little and continue kicking with a slow flutter kick to stay down. Practice moving forward and manoeuvring while staying close to the bottom.

Pushing the Puck - Push the puck forward along the pool bottom with the front, or passing edge of your stick. The puck should be close to, or touching the index finger of your glove. Remember to swim flat along the bottom of the pool. Swim slowly at first and gradually build speed as you get more comfortable with the feel of the puck on your stick.

Curling - This is a basic defensive move when you want to protect the puck from an attacker. Remembering to stay low to the bottom, roll onto your side (one hip should be touching the bottom), curl your chest and stomach around the puck (imagine making a large 'C' shape with your body) and use a backwards bicycle kick to push yourself around in a circle. When practicing this, just go around and around in circles to get the feel for the proper kicking motion. In a game, you will rarely need to curl more than one full circle. Practice doing this on both your left and right sides.

Underwater Swimming - Hockey is played on the bottom, so the more you practice swimming underwater while holding your breath, the better you'll get. Swim slowly at first and come up to breathe when you start feeling low on air. Set yourself a distance goal and work up to it gradually. Staying calm and maintaining a smooth, even kick will help.