|Wednesday, 04 February 2009 12:00|
What it's for!
Allows you to see underwater and protects your face. Ordinary swimming goggles are not used because they provide only limited visibility and could result in eye damage if hit during a game. In addition they are not good to use under pressure and are not so easy to empty out as masks.
If you need glasses...
If you have bad eyesight it is possible to purchase corrective lenses. These are available for certain types of mask in most dive shops or lenses can be fitted by your optician, at a slightly higher, but not always too much, cost. Interestingly, even if you buy a top quality mask and have lenses fitted it usually costs less than a new pair of glasses. Contact lenses can be worn under a mask but there is always the risk of getting them washed out. Some people have problems with contact lenses when they get wet, they tend to get stuck under the eyelid and wander out of place. Not everyone has this problem however.
Things to check when buying a mask
Black rubber, clear PVA rubber, opaque silicone or clear (crystal) silicone? The choice is yours. The rubber and PVA types are generally cheaper than the silicone, but silicone is softer and more comfortable as well as being less prone to having the traditional dark-green-brown gunk growing in it. When silicone is attacked by the slimy gunk it is easy to scrape out, whereas it appears to thrive on the rubber and PVA, and doesn't come off. PVA and certain types of rubber have the added disadvantage that they harden with age or with exposure to light, so they can seem almost as comfortable as silicone when new but gradually become less and less comfortable as time goes on.
Whether you get a clear or opaque seal is your choice. Most people these days go for the clear as it gives a less claustrophobic feel than dark masks, and in theory should allow you to notice movements to the extremities of your vision, whether it does or not is a mystery but you never know!
Don't forget about comfort. Set the strap so that it is reasonably tight on your head and try the mask on properly. Check that the seal does not cut into your face anywhere and that the frame does not press on your nose, forehead or cheekbones.
Field of vision
One lens or two?
What it's for!
Allows you to breathe, while at the surface, without lifting your head up, so you do not have to take your eyes off the game. In addition it acts as a mouthguard, protecting your mouth. It Must be made of a pliable material.
Things to Check
Rubber or silicone?
The mouthpiece tube should be able to turn in at least one place so that its angle relative to the main tube can be adjusted. Check that this is not too loose, you don't want the tube and mouthpiece getting separated during a game, a lungfull of water is not nice. It is also advisable to make sure that the mouthpiece tube is flush to the face and made of a relatively firm material so that it does not bend when you swim. Many cheap snorkels have a big U bend in them, avoid these, they drag and bend so you cant breathe while swimming at any speed on the surface and snag on anything that comes near you in a game.
Purge & backwash valves
Do NOT buy a snorkel with any kind of valves or gadgets up the main tube. The snorkel must be cut down to an appropriate length anyway so they will be cut off. So don't go out and get a fancy $90 U.S. Divers Impulse with the backwash-catch-cone on the top, you'll have to cut it off to meet the length requirements, and the tube is too hard anyway so it's totally against the rules.
Snorkels with a purge valve just below the mouthpiece are OK but unnecessary and they often cause drag which is uncomfortable and can cause the mouthpiece tube to fold so you can't breathe when moving with any speed on the surface. The advantage gained by having a purge is minimal, so, as with mask purge valves, avoid them.
What they're for!
These are to provide you with the speed and power to push the puck around the pool. If you have your own fins, use them to start with but it is worth investing in a pair of hockey-type fins as soon as possible.
Things to look for
SCUBA fins are not usually allowed if they have buckles on the sides of the foot pocket since these can cause nasty injuries. Also hard plastic fins or fins with no lips on the edge of the blade (such as the long Sporasub spearfishing fins) are not allowed as they get roughened up and easily cut people during games.
Small rubber fins are not much use because they provide minimal power, the blades being too small and flexible. The blade should extend from the toe-end of the foot-pocket about one and a half times the length of your foot. It should be moderately stiff but not too hard. Check that you have the best fitting foot size and that the foot pocket is reasonably comfortable, made of a softer rubber than the rest of the fin, but the stiffer blade material should extend most of the way up the sides and sole of the foot pocket without a sharp integration.
When you first wear fins it is advisable to wear socks inside to prevent blisters and chaffing. Even when used to fins, many people always wear socks, especially if the foot pocket is a little loose.
As used in water-polo, must have ear guards. At tournaments all players must wear hats of the colour corresponding to their team stick colour (dark or light, i.e. blue or white hat) with an identifying number on. At Regional and International tournaments each player in the team must have a different number but this is currently not necessary at local and National games. While not a guaranteed protection against burst eardrums ear guards do help prevent them, as well as protecting your ears from getting ripped up.
What they're for!
Protects your fingers from being worn away by the bottom of the pool and from being sliced up by the tiles in addition to protecting your fingers from impacts with the puck and other players' sticks. You cannot play properly without any finger protection. New players always seem to think that they can play fine without a glove. Without a glove on you cannot properly flick the puck, swim with the puck or perform any skills without losing chunks of flesh off your hand or breaking little bones. It is inadvisable to wait until this time to find some proper hand protection.
UW-hockey gloves are not commercially made so it is necessary to make your own or get someone else to make one for you. Some people make them on request or sometimes have a small supply that they have made to sell to new players. Silicone gloves The most common type of finger protection used is the silicone coated glove. These are made from gardening or work gloves (with a not too wide, not too close weave) coated with bathroom/window silicone sealant with extra thick silicone layers on the 'front' of the fingers. If you want to make your own, ask an experienced player for advice and look at other peoples gloves. I may print instructions for making a silicone glove later.
What it's for!
The most vital piece of equipment, since you cannot play without one.
Arguably the second most vital piece of equipment. Drag (as in the drag-coefficient, not the other sort...) is the main factor here. For male players speedo-type togs should be worn rather than shorts, no club players wear shorts, the drag is really noticeable. If you must wear shorts then it is a good idea to slit or remove the pockets since these cause a huge drag and can cause your togs to end up wrapped round your fins.
These items may sound a little superfluous here, but are nonetheless important pieces of equipment.
Make sure the bag is long enough to hold a pair of fins, with room to spare. If you walk or bike to the pool regularly it may be worth looking at a pack which you can carry comfortably on your back. Some long sports bags (such as dive gear-bags) have a waterproof dry-pocket which is a recommendable idea, for clothes, books etc. If you can't really be bothered emptying out your bag when you get home from hockey (who can?!) it is advisable to leave it open so that the equipment can dry off. Masks and snorkels tend to turn into algae farms if left sealed in a wet bag for too long.
Insulation tape is what holds most players together. Almost all players at some time or another seem to develop an addiction to insulation (or duct) tape, usually someone else's. They wrap it around their fingers, repair gloves and often mummify their wrists, toes, feet and ankles in the stuff. This is to prevent or protect blisters and to support injured wrists. Make sure you have your own, get a big roll of good stuff from a hardware store (usually about $2 -$3) not the cheap stuff from cut-price stores. The cheap tape never holds for long, especially if it gets wet.
To rub onto blisters and places where fins rub or masks leak. Helps prevent blisters occurring on your feet and reduces the rubbing on blisters already present.