Blazing a Trail for Girls' Sport

Blazing a trail for girls’ sport

Netball has been growing in participation over the past decade across the UK. No longer considered just a school PR activity, netball teams from across Britain are gaining recognition on the world stage, including the England team who beat Australia to win Gold at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April 2018.

The Sirens are Scotland’s new Superleague netball team. Based out of the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, they are Scotland’s biggest semi-professional national female sports-based team, and they are on a mission to not only be the best in their sport, but also to change the face for women and girls in sport for generations to come.

We caught up with team Captain, Claire Brownie and Sara Bayman who plays in wing defence, who gave us a snapshot into their training and some advice for young athletes.

Claire Brownie, 29, Glasgow

Sirens Team Captain

Our training varies depending on the games we have coming up. An average training week might consist of weights, conditioning,  court training , recovery sessions and a game. We always ensure we have a full day of recovery each week to allow our bodies to repair and adapt from that week’s training. 

Different times of the year call for different types of training. For example, in preseason we will predominantly look at improving our fitness to ensure we are fitter, faster and stronger going into the season.  During season its more about technical and tactical aspects on the court.  Training may be tapered to ensure we are able to peak for the games or competitions coming up.

I always take time to mentally prepare for a match. I like to ensure I've done my homework on my opposition, have eaten well and I’m feeling physically fresh going into the game.  On the day I like to feel relaxed and confident before I take to the court. 

Like most sports people, I am always my own worst critic.  I tend to replay the game in my head after the game, self-analyse what I did well and what I could improve on then look over the video footage to give me further guidance.  If it's been a particularly bad game I like to do something with friends and family, that completely takes my mind off netball.

It’s really important to be focused before a match. I like to listen to music in the changing rooms and reiterate the game plan with a team mate prior to taking to the court.

Being able to switch off is a crucial aspect of performance and something I am definitely getting better at.  Sport can be cruel and it’s important that you have balance and perspective in your life.  As full-time athletes and full-time workers it can be hard to find spare time to do something away from your day to day schedule but that's often when you need to find the extra time for breathing space and to switch off, even if it’s only for a little while.

I love that netball is a true team sport. You can’t win games on your own, it requires everyone to be working together and performing at their absolute best to get you over that finishing line as winners.  Some of my closest friends are those that stand next to me on the court.  They provide a second family for me and it's a part of my life that I am so proud of.

My best piece of advice for young players is to enjoy the game that you fell in love with.  The harder you work; the more satisfaction you will get from training and the rewards you will get on the court will be greater.  It's ok to make mistakes but it’s how you respond and continue to work hard and learn that makes the difference.

Sara Bayman, 33, Paisley

Sirens Wing Defence

I like to switch off to mentally prepare for a match. For years I’d feel bad if I wasn’t thinking solely about the match on game day, but it just made me too nervous. I was exhausted and terrified by the first whistle. Relaxing and taking my mind off it works much better for me, so I’ll listen to music, read, chat to people, anything not related to the game really.

To recover from a bad game you need to take the learnings and bin it! It’s harder if you have a very short turnaround but everyone has a bad day at the office, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad player.

My pre-match prep is pretty similar for every game so my body and mind know what’s coming. I don’t have trouble getting ‘up’ for a game so it’s more about trying to relax and put energy into productive things like warming up.

Fresh air clears my mind and always provides a bit of perspective – which is crucial after a game. I try to get outdoors, whether it’s for a walk, shopping, running or something more adventurous. I also listen to lots of music because it has the power to transport you anywhere. The best athletes are usually the most well-rounded ones, sitting thinking about your sport 24/7 will drive you mad, it’s important to have balance in your life.

Crystal Fighters – All Night is a great game song because it always makes me want to jump around and dance. I love so many different genres that my ipod is a very weird mix of indie, RnB, hip hop and world music.

Being part of a team helps me get out of bed and train, because you realise that it’s bigger than just you. You make friends for life because of the experiences you share.

Follow Sirens @sirensnetball