Refereeing Underwater Hockey is a team effort.

There are four referees for each game - three in the water (“Water Referees”) and one on the deck (“Chief Referee”).

The Water Referees observe play at the pool bottom and signal to the chief referee to stop / restart play for goals or infringements.  They also signal the reason for the stoppage and the team that scored or committed the infringement to the players and Chief Referee.  The Water Referees work together by rotating their position in the pool around the play to ensure that all play is seen by at least one Water Referee.

The Chief Referee responds to hand signals given by the Water Referees to start and stop play by sounding a buzzer advising the players of a stoppage or restart.  The Chief Referee also signals Team or Referee time-out periods,  or to stop play if they have seen a rule infringement.

The game time and scores are managed by way of a computer program with game time and scores displayed on large TV screens on the side of the pool.  Names of the scorers and time penalties are managed by timekeepers.

There are numerous signals used in Underwater Hockey and these are set out in the rules.


There are three grades of referees in underwater hockey.

Level 1 - Club Referee:

A Club Referee is able to referee at Club & School tournaments/competitions.

In order to become a Club Referee you must complete a Level 1 Referee Course, pass the exam, and be deemed competent by a National or International Referee.

Level 2 - National Referee

A National Referee is able to referee all the tournaments as a Club Referee and additionally Interzone & Trans Tasman tournaments.

In order to become a National Referee you must complete Level 2 Referee Course, pass the exam, and be deemed competent by an International Referee.

Level 3 - International Referee

An International Referee is a referee who is invited to the World Championships.

Criteria:           Ranking is determined by performance at the tournament


If you are interested in refereeing Underwater Hockey – talk to your club or school about becoming involved and what courses are coming up. We suggest that you do the rules course first to give you an understanding of the rules.

Further information can be obtained by emailing the UWHNZ Referee Developement Officer at