I first heard about her when I joined the Singapore Women’s Team. In my mind, I have labelled her as our “virtual coach;” she is the Singapore women’s team inspiration and model. She is Lena Plambeck.
I was fortunate to be coached by her from 2008 until I left Singapore in 2012. She was not around in all our games and training as she is based in Australia but her presence is always felt… She is our role model. I had the chance to have her physically coach our team during the Manila Invitational 2010 which was one of the most memorable tournaments I had to date.
Game after game… tournament after tournament, I realized our virtual coach is a legend in her own right. Just say her name and people in the community know how good she is as a player, and as a person.
This women’s month, I was thinking of who to feature in my underwater hockey people segment. It didn’t take me long to think… I asked Lena and she generously gave me some of her time to answer some questions and gave some advice too.
Lena shared that she started hockey when she joind a SCUBA diving club when she entered university in Sydney. Her first challenge was when they taped huge fins to her feet then put on a glove and held a massive stick. She thought it was a crazy experience… but loved it.
Since then, she has always aimed to just become a better and smarter player. The additional challenge of breath holding made her love the game more. She said: “I particularly love those brief moments in the game when you feel as if you could stay down forever! You just feel invincible for that brief moment (and then your lungs start to scream or you get dispossessed)! “
Nowadays, she does CrossFit for strength and conditioning and swimming for water fitness and breath-holds. She also plays regular hockey games.
In her early years she would spend 3-5 hours every week working on new skills, in addition to all other training. These days she balances her sport specific training with cross training (CrossFit or normal gym work) to prevent repetitive strain injuries (RSIs).
When asked what motivates her to continue playing, Lena shared that the joy of training with a team and achieving team goals, pushing herself to the limit, getting to know her team mates and having fun are all things that have kept her in the sport.
This year, she will be playing once again for the Austalian Women’s Team participating at the World Underwater Hockey Championship in Eger, Hungary in August. She said preparations are the same as for any tournament: train hard, attend training camps, get her gear sorted.
Some advice from the legend…
For first time or new teams in the international arena:
Be friendly to all other teams, make new friends and listen to all advice offered. You will have these contacts and friendships for life! Play a few practice games versus other teams so that you get a gauge of where your team is at. Be realistic about what your team will be able to achieve. Most importantly, enjoy the experience.
Practice swimming and skills as much as you can. Your improvement will not be as rapid if you only rely on club games to learn the game. Ask experienced players to show you good drills. Work hard on improving your flick, with specific weight training and good drills (eg flicking over the tray, or flicking one puck over another puck).
For the ladies:
Don’t think that just because you are a girl you can’t be competitive against guys. UWH is a great game where all sizes and shapes can be effective. Big players can use their strength and size whereas smaller players can use their speed and agility. Model your game after somebody similar to yourself. 🙂
Thanks Lena for giving some of your time to share some of your insights on underwater hockey! Now… would I be too ambitious if I say I want to model my game after the legendary Lena Plambeck… we’re the same size afterall. I just need that extra skill, will-power and determination. Let’s keep on playing ladies!
Happy Women’s Month!