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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 April 2007, 12:34 GMT 13:34 UK
Sonia Mkoloma's diary
Sonia Mkoloma
By Sonia Mkoloma
England international defender and Brunel Hurricanes captain

Hi all!! Well, the second half of the Netball Superleague season has been somewhat of a rollercoaster ride for the Brunel Hurricanes.

We have seen some new faces brought into the long squad, all of which have been training very well with us at the moment.

The great news is that Hurricanes have definitely made the play-offs no matter what happens with our last few matches. Team Bath have too and we can't wait to test ourselves against the league leaders in our next away match at Bath.

Naida Hutchinson, Chioma Ezeogu and I have also been on England camp which was really hard work. I cannot wait for the Test Series against New Zealand and Australia to come around now, the next month is going to be seriously intense!

Sonia Mkoloma in action against Northern Thunder (credit: Litmus Images)
Sonia defending in the recent game with Northern Thunder

We did a bit of team bonding on camp and played golf and did a bit of cooking as well which was fun. I don't think I'll be switching sports in a hurry though, golf is so not my thing!

Sadly at Brunel we have lost Becky Nash (WD), who has an injury. She will miss the rest of the season getting her knee mended! I did suggest some sticky tape and splint..but that idea has been dismissed!

We had a great game against Team Northumbria, and then the following week, unfortunately lost to Loughborough Lighting for the second time. We fought hard but they played very well against us and fully deserved their win.

Easter wasn't a rest for us netballers, or time to eat chocolates! We played Celtic Dragons in Cardiff and after a great team performance we are back in the second spot in the table. I think we all had a special Easter bunny in our shoes for that match, as we were stealing interceptions all over the court.

Brunel Hurricanes meet Guildford Heat basketball team (credit: Litmus Images)
Hurricanes players meet up with Guildford Heat basketball team

Outside of the netball, Hurricanes have been doing a lot of community and media appearances, one of which gave us the opportunity to shake the hands of the guys from the Guildford Heat basketball team and they have seriously big hands!

We watched them win the BBL title at our home ground the Spectrum, what a buzz! That was definitely an inspiration for me.

They then watched us beat Northern Thunder, which was another tough match. I think we may have a few converts to netball after they've watched us though!

It was also my fellow England pal Naida Hutchinson's 21st that day, as well as Natalie Francis's birthday, so we all went out to party that night and had a great time.

We have been training so intensely that it was great to all let our hair down.. and probably for the last time as the play-offs are in sight, and we aim to finish the season with a bang!

YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED

Hi Sonia. I was just wondering what sort of training you have to do to become a top-class netballer?
Katie, England

Hi Katie,

Lots is the answer but if you can focus on the following that will help:

* Strength and conditioning: (e.g weights, squats, shoulder presses).

* Good core stability (sit ups/work those abs!). I would also suggest you ask your local gym if they can design a strength and conditioning programme for you, most gyms have personal trainers that do it for free.

* Speed work - sprints and changes in direction.

* Endurance - cardio work, lots of running and other cardio activities.

* Netball work - ball work, practise ball skills lots, and matches of course.

* Eat sensibly and healthily, you must ensure you have fuel on board, eat lots of carbs, fruit and vegetables.

* Always train 100%. Practice makes perfect so you have to be very committed.

What can netball do to raise its profile in Britain?
Richard, London

Hi Richard, thanks for writing in.

Getting netball out there is the only way. A big step for Netball was getting regular weekly television coverage.

Luckily people's perception of netball is changing and we had over 21,000 spectators at our last England Test series.

We are good role models for young girls and all types of women so we need to be appearing in magazines, newspapers, radio and TV spreading the word that netball is a modern, fast, exciting sport, and it's fun.

Luckily, we have an excellent media manager at Brunel Hurricanes who comes from a TV background so she understands the importance of our image and the media and we have had growing press interest already this season.

I have appeared on Chris Evans' radio show, the Hurricanes players have received lots of other PR such as BBC London Radio, ITV London News and several national newspapers and we have lots more planned. There is also of course this column.

I think the key is to just get the message out there through every media outlet that we can.

Once they come to our matches everyone is always very impressed, so it's just a case of getting people along to matches and getting them involved.

Can you recommend any internet sites which tell people how to play, pass and defend etc..

As I am an A-level student doing my last piece of course work, in which we have to compare our weaknesses to an elite performer, and as you are such a brilliant player I choose you, and i would like to know what i am doing wrong. I hope you can help me.

Laura Smith

Hi Laura,

The BBC has an academy page on www.bbc.co.uk/netball that has some tips and there is also a Netball magazine which is produced, visit the link on the BBC netball page for England Netball for this.

Maybe you can follow the training advice I gave to Katie above. Also, come along to a Superleague match, watching is the best way to pick up tactics and tips. I would be more than happy to meet you after one of our matches and give a few quick words of advice. Hurricanes next home match is on May 5.

I am not sure about any other Internet sites but visit the England website first, they have coaching manuals and things that you can get online.

What is your training routine - amount, type of training, and what does your training programme consist of?
Simon, UK

Hi Simon.

Well it is very busy and consists of most of the things I told Katie in my first answer - strength and conditioning training such as weights, squats, shoulder presses etc, core stability training (e.g sit-ups), speed work - sprints and changes in direction, endurance - cardio work, lots of running and other cardio activities, and netball work - training sessions and balls skills for Hurricanes and England.

When I am not training, I am playing a match so it's virtually every day of the week.

It varies between Netball specific training and my strength and conditioning programme. I train at the EIS (English Institute of Sport) & New Lee Valley Complex with my trainer Andy Hudson.

Sonia is 28 and has played in two World Championships and the Commonwealth Games with England. She lives in west London and works as a young person's support worker. She will be writing a series of articles for the BBC Sport website throughout the year.

Send Sonia your questions using this form and read her answers to a selection of last week's at the bottom of the page
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SEE ALSO
Sonia Mkoloma's diary
14 Mar 07 |  Netball
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09 Feb 07 |  Netball
Netball results
24 May 06 |  Netball


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