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Last Updated: Friday, 20 July 2007, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
Sonia Mkoloma's netball diary
Sonia Mkoloma (Litmus Images)
By Sonia Mkoloma
England international defender and Brunel Hurricanes captain

Back in May we headed down under - yes, to sunny Australia, not! It was winter, unfortunately, when I went there with the England squad on our last England tour for the season.

We were in busy Melbourne for two weeks of tough matches and training.

Sonia Mkoloma
Mkoloma in action for England against Australia
The tour was filled with loads of netball and a lot of learning on and off the court.

We were given the opportunity to play in practice matches against the Australian Under-21 squad, and can I say that they were the biggest Under-21s I have ever seen!

We also got to play the seniors in a play-the-bench-type game, which gives both teams the opportunity to play all their players in various combinations - great preparation for the World Championships and for players trying to prove themselves to coach Marg.

We finished off by playing a few games against national club teams, some of which were really tough.

Even though it felt like a long tour, there was a rainbow in the form of the All Blacks rugby team.

What great timing - we were in the gym, they were in the gym, we smiled, they smiled!

We got some time off to support them in their battle with Australia. Great match.

Now we're well into July and I am back and very tired.

The tour was a great experience and great fun with some new characters arising in the team. Jo Harten really came out of her shell and made me laugh.

As per usual after a tour, I am exhausted and catching up on some rest, but roll on the World Championships!

YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED

Please tell me about your education and also about your future plans.
Nadeem, Pakistan

I studied sociology, art and German at A level, and then went on to university where I studied American history along with criminology.

To me it was very important to get a good education as well as playing netball. It requires a lot of time and effort as well as commitment but is something I'm very proud of.

I then spent time working with young people in London and worked as a young people's support worker.

As to my future, I'm unsure at the moment but I will probably work with young people again as I enjoy that very much.

When I play netball at school, a lot of my passes seem to be too strong. How can I sort this out?
Molly Garbutt, England

It is good to have a strong pass but the key is controlling it. You need to work on your control and accuracy.

Work on controlling the pass by doing lots of repetitions of passing. Maybe put dots on a wall and practise hitting them for accuracy.

What can you say to an aspiring netball player looking to improve her shooting skills?
Corrie, Northern Ireland

Practise, practise, practise!

I would advise you to get a netball post or use the post at school and practise as many days and hours as you can. Repetition is the key. Take shots from different places and angles.

Also it is good to practise under pressure so ask a friend to mark you so you are used to shooting under pressure from defenders.

Even practise when you are tired as this will help in a game situation.

If you miss, maybe make yourself do a sprint, that way the incentive is to score!

Give yourself targets - for example, 100 or 200 successful shots a session.

I have just started playing netball. I am somewhat pear-shaped and this poses a huge problem for landing from any high jumps that I do. Do you have any suggestions?
Monika, Jamaica

I would work on your abs and your core strength which will control your extension and landing.

So lots of sit-ups, squats and also work on your balance. Maybe use a wobble board - close your eyes and stand on one leg for example.

But if you have good core strength and balance this should help you land easier.

Try looking on the England website (www.englandnetball.co.uk) or read the England magazine, which often has coaching tips.

I am 21 and have just got back into netball after a few years break when I left county netball.

How can someone my age seek to progress upwards, bearing in mind the England selection structure now, which seems to focus on younger girls?

I have begun to be selected to play in the Premier League Division Two, but is it too late now to aspire to anything more? I am very ambitious and have always wanted to reach my potential playing netball.
Ellie Cooke, England

No, it is not too late. You have done the right thing by joining a Premier League club. I would concentrate on playing brilliantly week in, week out in the Premier League.

There are scouts that visit the Premier League often and if you can, play for a premier club, or persuade your club to have links or an association with a Superleague team, like Brunel Hurricanes. Then you are more likely to get spotted.

Brunel Hurricanes often have scouts looking in the Premier League in London and the South-East and some of our players in the Superleague play in the Premier League for teams like Academy and New Campbell.

So keep playing well and fingers crossed, you will get spotted by someone at Superleague, which is then a brilliant showcase for talented athletes to prove themselves for England selection.

Also, be very committed and work on your fitness, core strength and endurance as much as you can off-court.

If you want to be an England player, you must work extremely hard and be able to play at a very high intensity so always train as hard as you can. Good luck!

Hi Sonia, this is Emily from the Hounslow youth games. You trained us at grass hoppers. Please come back and teach the Under-13s - it would be amazing. Thank you for all your work and teaching
Emily Barker, England

Hi Emily - I enjoyed working with you and hopefully I will come back and see you all and coach you again in the future.

In the meantime, come and watch Hurricanes and England play to keep picking up tips and hopefully I will see you soon.

Sonia x

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


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