Welcome to the Underwater Thunderdome: Torpedo

Two teams enter, one team leaves—victoriously, that is, as this Marine Raider-created sport isn’t one played to the death, though it can be just as cutthroat as any game found it in a Mad Max movie.

With its roots in water polo and underwater football, the game’s original design was to create a training tool to help develop underwater confidence and the skill to remain calm.

In order to play the game successfully, you have to have a high level of athletic skill, stamina and calm.


Think of it as competitive drown-proofing; the game is played nearly entirely underwater, with surfacing only at times when air is needed. You have to rely on your wits and your swimming ability.

“The water keeps everybody honest,” says Prime Hall, the game’s creator and a former Marine Raider. “We’ve played with other Raiders, SEALs—and we haven’t had anyone get significantly hurt, to my memory.”

Because calm is needed when underwater, it’s easier to remain so if there’s something to focus on.

“The reason why the torpedo is effective is that everybody has anxiety as soon as they go under the water,” Hall said. “They think, ‘where’s my air source.’ But if you have a focus, something that takes your mind off that, it eases that anxiety. It almost blocks it.”

When Hall realized watching the torpedo speed across the pool was something that did exactly that, he decided to create a game that would combine that focus with aspects of the training he went through as a water survival instructor.


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The gameplay is fairly simple.

Two teams of five square off on either side of the deep end of a pool, with substitutes waiting poolside. Fins are not used.

A goal is scored when the torpedo passes through the opposing team’s goal. Each game is has three matches; the team that wins the most matches is the winner.

Because the game is played fully underwater (except for the surface breaths), precision timing is needed for both breathing and passing the torpedo. It’s considered a foul if you surface for a breath while holding the torpedo.

Since its creation, the game has spread from its original team, outwards to other Raider units—and to the SOF community in general.

When he was discharged in 2017 medically, Hall founded the Underwater Torpedo League, which is made up of more than 100 members that include vets, athletes and active duty service members.

There is even a championship game: The Aqua Bowl.

QUESTION: Coach, how can I make sure I pass the pool test for BUDS? I’ve been swimming and practicing at a local pool, but I want to know what to expect so I can get ready. I go to boot camp in 4 months.

ANSWER: Check out this article: BUD/S Pool Comp Tips.

QUESTION: Hi, Coach Brad. I finally got my a** off the couch and I started exercising and I’ve lost 20lbs so far. I thought I’d hate running but I found I actually like it! My problem is I can’t seem to break the 8 or 9 minute mile time I have. Do you have some tips?

ANSWER: Awesome job on the weight loss! Yes; check out this article as it should help—Tips to Improve Your Mile Run Time.


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