A player of a game is its playing participant. The term applies to all types of games and therefore refers to both single-player and multi-player game participants. A game without interacting participants is considered a zero-player game. Most games require multiple players in a competitive or cooperative setting.
The aim of my research is to investigate whether players’ self-reported wellness metrics such as Sleep quality, Mood, Muscle soreness, and Body fatigue have a correlation with individual AFL game day performance.
Game day performance will be measured by coaches and player self-rating of 1 – 5 1 being a poor gamed and 5 excellent and champion data.
Wellness is critical for an athlete’s recovery between games and physical preparedness for performance in the upcoming game. (5)
There is research (2) on the impacts of wellness leading up to the game on running performance however no wellness data collected from AFL players on gameday.
My hypothesis would be that certain metrics would have a stronger influence on certain players than others. There may be a strong correlation between certain metrics that influence other wellness scores for example mood and body fatigue maybe closely link to quality of sleep.
Players are more likely to buy into something that they believe will help their game day performance.
Using this data will be helpful for support staff such as medical and high performance to provide AFL athletes with relevant wellbeing metrics and game day performance.
Staff informing players of this research can encourage athletes to discover or continue effective practices like sleep hygiene and mindfulness to improve their quality of mood and sleep.
Study design and participants
This study will be a primary prospective cohort study with mixed methods of quantitative & qualitative data. Realistically the study would be conducted at one AFL club over two seasons and due to small cohort having a mixed quantitative and qualitative approach would be appropriate to assist in applying and understanding the findings.
The source of this study will be AFL players playing from the Melbourne Football Club. The whole team over 22 rounds and finals would be required in this study which is up to 40 – 60 AFL players depending on how many listed players play over 2 seasons.
Measures and variables
From a quantitative approach using a number scale of 1 – 5 asking each player to rate the respective wellness question.
And from a qualitative point of view asking the athletes pregame “how satisfied they are with their weekly preparation regarding sleep, stress and how their body feels”.
Data collection will be gathered pre-game where each player included in the study will answer the following questionnaire:
Key wellness metrics:
rate (1 – 5) 1 = poor 5 = great
Sleep quality: players are educated to factor in, how many times they woke up during the night, how long it took them to get to sleep and the duration.
Mood players are educated to factor in if they feel flat, irritable, or overwhelmed or relaxed and content
Muscle soreness players are educated to factor in how sore their muscles feel barely being able to walk being 1 and 5 feel normal
Body fatigue players are educated to factor in their motivation and energy levels. Are they feeling fresh or drained?
Rating performance will be a mix of subjective and objective data 3 separate rows to help with analysis:
Row 1 Player rating from 1 – 5,
Row 2 Coaches rating from 1 – 5
Row 3 Champion data total score from the game.
After the first 4 games z scores can be calculated for each wellness metric to help determine the effect of individual fluctuations within each wellness rating.
To calculate a z score you simply create the following excel function: weekly rating (4) – minus the four-week average (3) divided by a rolling 4-week deviation of recent 4-week (0.8) z = 4 – 3 /0.8 = 1.02 in percentage %102.
Performance will be determined by looking at each player’s total
AFL player rating score using the Champion data algorithm in addition The Melbourne football coaches will rate performance for each player from 1-5. (1 – 5 1 = poor 5 = great)
Data collection protocol
On player arrival for each home and away game players will fill out a questionnaire displayed below table A via a wellness app like edge 10. Athletes would also be followed up by staff post-game during if they rated below 2 to further investigate the context behind the poor rating. We can then export the data from edge 10 to an excel pivot table which can help us collate the data and make it easier to analyse the player’s wellness data when looking for correlations and trends in performance.
From there champion data player rating and coaches’ votes are collected and collated and z scores are calculated for analysis.
At the end of the 2 years of study closely going through the data and looking for trends in the data such as high z scores of sleep result in a high probability in in consistent performances on game day. Applying the findings to back up the hypothesis or challenge it. The key part of this research will also be making sense of the qualitative comments made by the players that rated below 3 for any wellness metric. This may come in handy for staff to help finding solutions for the players.
The issue this research is trying to solve is how much subjective markers influence game day performance and therefore what are the key ones to focus on from a development point of view.
How do we analysis the data? Interpreting the data to help determine answer questions such as:
What is the relationship between wellness metrics and high performance?
What might be the key causes from a preparation point of view for high performance in AFL football?
Does one factor have a significant affect or is a mix of all metrics that need to be taken into context.
Strength & conditioning coaches in the AFL recognize the importance of wellness as research shows most teams have some form of wellness data collection for load monitoring. Why not add it in as a performance measure as well?
Perhaps we find some info that challenges assumptions like body fatigue and muscle soreness increases match day performance.
Limitations of this study would be getting every team on board and even if we could get every team on board for the 2-year study gathering the data in a timely manner would be another issue, as some if not most clubs would want to keep the data to themselves.
From an ethical point of view the club may have a clause on when the data can be released as this is a prospective study over a few years hopefully this wouldn’t delay the publish doubt.
The high turnover rate of Australian Rules Football playing lists will be an issue as we won’t have the same playing list every week and the list will change slightly each year.
Another limitation and potentially why no team has researched game day data on record is due to the players not wanting to be interrupted from their game day routine, potentially some players may refuse to be involved in this study further reducing the cohort size.
Further exclusion considerations if someone is struggling with a mental health issue than the wellness data will likely be compromised and therefore the player would need to be e removed from the study and any player coming back from a long-term injury for example players that have been out of the game for a year will also have different experiences to the playing group as they adjust back to the game.
Anticipated outcomes I think individual variance will be high amongst this small cohort some may report poor wellness and perform highly others may report great wellness and perform well.
Other factors other than wellness will influence therefore these outliers will no doubt pop up through the study.
Hoping we can find some clear findings such as how important consistent rating scores are and therefore low z score fluctuations for the playing squad. Suggesting how important players’ routines are.
Looking at how factors such as away games, the shorter time between games, and wins or losses affect the data. I would suspect finals and or big games may have a gap between experienced players’ wellness reporting and new players.
There’s no doubt that Jaspa Fletcher is one of the most promising young Australian rules football players in this year’s draft. The 18-year-old has a natural talent for the sport and is looking to take the next step in his career with the 2022 AFL Draft looming on the horizon.
Showing that the apple certainly did not fall far from the tree, Fletcher is a second-generation player, being the son of Adrian Fletcher, who played 231 games for the likes of Brisbane, Geelong, Fremantle, and St Kilda. The young balanced midfielder showed off his skills in the recent NAB AFL Under-18 Championships where his Allies team finished with a 1-3 record during the carnival.
Fletcher was particularly spectacular in the Allies’ win over Western Australia at the Thebarton Oval. Showing his readiness for the next level, the talented youngster racked up 26 disposals, four tackles, and six clearances in a best-on-ground performance. He also showed uncanny leadership qualities, often being one of the first to put his hand up for a smother.
While he may not be the biggest player on the ground, Fletcher’s athleticism and determination more than make up for it. He has an impressive vertical jump and is extremely quick over short distances. His speed and agility make him hard to contain when he’s on the attack and he’s also very good at finding space in congestion.
Fletcher is set to be one of the most sought-after players in this year’s draft and it will be interesting to see where he ends up. Experts peg Fletcher to be in the 20-25 range when it comes to the final order of the draft, but with his impressive skillset and bloodline, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him snapped up sooner than that. Off the field, Fletcher has a cool demeanor and is very popular amongst his teammates, who he considers to be like family.
“In my eyes, the best thing about the game of football is developing those close relationships with your teammates which creates that fun element of footy but also pushes you to become better. Always a great feeling running out and playing for them on gameday,” said Fletcher.
The pandemic was a crucial period for Fletcher as he took the time to stay active and work on his game. He says the documentary “The Last Dance” resonated with him and Michael Jordan’s commitment to becoming the best served as inspiration.
“I don’t have a movie off the top of my head, but the last dance with Michael Jordan had a big impact on me – especially through the quarantine period this movie was very impactful because it showed me how much time and effort goes into mastering the skills in the sport. With it being lockdown also, it inspired me to keep working hard at training so when games were to resume I knew I was ready. This period was key in my development pathway,” added Fletcher.
When he’s not training or playing, Fletcher enjoys spending time with his family and friends, as well as playing golf. He also enjoys heading over to Gippsland to visit his grandparents and enjoy the water.
“Being from Victoria, my favourite destination would have to be Lakes Entrance in Gippsland. My grandparents own a beach house down there so every Christmas my close family and I stay for about 3 weeks. The weather is always great for boating and plenty of space to use the jet-ski.”
Fletcher’s focus is firmly on making the AFL, but he says he’ll continue to enjoy his life away from the game regardless of what happens.
“I’ll just keep living life to the fullest, taking each day as it comes and see(ing) what happens. If I don’t end up playing AFL then that’s fine, I know I gave it everything I had.”
There’s no doubt that Jaspa Fletcher has what it takes to be a star at the AFL level and he will no doubt be one of the most exciting players to watch in the years to come. If he can continue to develop his game and reach his potential, there’s no reason why he can’t be one of the best players in the league. Only time will tell if Jaspa Fletcher is the next big thing, but he’s certainly off to a good start.
If you’re an AFL player who wants to take your game to the next level, be sure to check out Prepare Like A Pro. You can find more information on our services page via our website or follow us on social media.
Jack: Welcome back to the ‘Prepare Like A Pro’ live chat show. My name is Jack McLean. I’m your host. And tonight my guest is Harry Sheezel. Harry is one of the most recognized upcoming AFL players in the 2022 draft, not only an elite football player. He loves hanging out with his family, friends and playing in his local football club, NAB League is the Sandringham Dragons and he goes for the Hawthorn Football Club. So, really looking forward to this chat. If you have any questions for Harry, feel free to comment them in the comment section below on our YouTube channel.
Before we start this episode, for those new to our podcast, our mission here at Prepare Like A Pro is to empower aspiring athletes and staff. And also to strengthen the AFL community. If you like the show, please show support by following us on Instagram and subscribing to the podcast. We’re on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube.
Good to see you, Harry. Thanks for jumping on, mate.
Harry: Thanks, Jack. Thanks for having me on representing as well. The hoodie’s looking good as well. Gotta represent nice, mate. Cut the jumper side. Yeah, I gotta wear.
Jack: Very good. I was training Dion. Who’s an under 15 acts player and he was talking up. You probably wouldn’t know of him yet, but he’s another Aja player. That’s looking up to you, mate, trying to follow your footsteps.
Harry: No doubt, at some stage.
Jack: Let’s dive into the beginning of your football career. At what age did you discover that you were gonna take it pretty seriously and wanna become a professional player?
Harry: So probably started very young. Since I was really young, I was kicking that I always dreamed about playing high level footy in that. But it became a real realization probably under fourteens when I started playing inter league, playing good footy there. And it kind of transformed into being an internal goal for me and something I really work towards.
Jack: It’s obviously a common dream for Melbourne footballers growing up. But you mentioned once you started making that inter league team. So did you start growing in confidence at 14, 15, when you started getting selected in website?
Harry: Yeah, definitely. And also playing well at that level gives you a lot of confidence and that’s probably the highest level you can play at that. So if you’re playing well, that’s obviously giving you a lot of confidence to work harder as well, off the track. And to put the extra work in to keep staying.
Jack: And how did that shift for you mentally? Did you still have fun with the game when you started putting in extra work and started seeing it as a bit of a career and started having performance goals? Did that change the fun factor or you still have lots of fun?
Harry: No, it didn’t change, the fun factor’s always gotta be there. I love my footy, everything about it, even the training. Sometimes it gets hard, but you still gotta enjoy everything. Cuz I think once you forget that you probably should give it up. So I think fun’s the main.
Jack: That’s a good point. So it’s obviously something that you value the enjoyment factor. When times are going tough, maybe you have a little nickel injury, you can’t play, or your form’s not where you want it to be. Or perhaps you’re in pre-season, like you said, and sometimes you’re just getting through the grind of doing lots of strength and conditioning and extra skills. What do you lean towards to bump up the fun and the enjoyment factor?
Harry: Probably looking forward to the season, knowing that you’re working towards playing well and you know that if you do play well, you’ll enjoy yourself more. So just having that in mind when you’re training hard, that you’re doing it for a reason and a purpose.
Jack: And along your journey, who have made some strong influences, mentors, if you like?
Harry: So my dad was probably the first one. He got me into footy. We went to the park a lot growing up, used to drill balls into me. So he probably started my footy journey for me and a few others along the way.
Dave Butk who I did a bit of strength and conditioning work with a couple years back. He was great for me, not just about strength and conditioning, but also the mental side of stuff. Just how to deal with things on field. He taught me a lot of mental cues. And then obviously the gym work and speed work as well.
And then, at Dragons, Jackson Kornberg, he’s probably listening now. He was really big for me when I joined Sandy my last few years. Just how much care he put into all these players. And we still keep in contact, he’s up on the Gold Coast now and he was really big for my development.
Jack: And let’s go back into a little more detail with Dave and Jackson. So how did you come across David?
Harry: I think dad’s mate, New Butters, got in contact with him.
Jack: And then you would catch up. Would that be over the phone? Would it be face to face?
Harry: Yeah, they were face to face sessions. So we used to go to the park and do a lot of speed drills, speed, endurance drills. And then he also gave me gym programs, nutrition plans.
Jack: Fantastic. Wow. So that you got used to living the elite lifestyle at a pretty young age. For those listening in that haven’t had access to that recess resource yet, or perhaps they’re working towards getting into an elite program and having that resource, what performance benefits did you feel with your football when you started looking into things like nutrition? You mentioned doing some mental skills and mindset training, and then obviously doing some work in the gym and in the field. And so it started behind the scenes. What did you notice on game day?
Harry: Definitely a lot of reward from that. I think I just took my game to the next level. Even like a few percent just to get that extra edge compared to everyone else who probably wasn’t putting in the same work.
And I think confidence is a big thing that comes outta training hard. You know you’ve put in the work. So when you go there on game day, you feel confident that you are probably gonna do better than those that haven’t. So just that inner belief and obviously your body’s up to that cuz you put in the work.
Jack: Fantastic mate. Thanks for that insight into your mindset and your approach. There’s a couple of questions that have come through, so I’ll go off the script for a second and as you can answer your fans, so one’s from YouTube NBA fan is his title. ‘Hi. How do you feel about going into state in the draft particularly? To a successful big club like West Coast, if you were going to pick number two?’ Obviously he’s a West Coast fan.
Harry: Clearly, yeah. I’m not sure about West Coast and that it’s probably a bit far out, but I’m happy to go interstate. I’ll go anywhere to play footy. I love my footy and I think I’m pretty independent that I’d be fine in.
Jack: No doubt. And he’s followed on from there saying you’re considered a hybrid mid-forward by the draft experts. Would you like to be eventually a pure midfielder or more a pure forward? Or do you like being a hybrid of the two?
Harry: I think the good thing about my game is I can be both. I can either be a mixture of the two, purely forward, which I’ve done a lot, like the last few years in the Dragons. And then, my whole junior career, I played pure midfield. So I think I can impact wherever I play. Maybe even off a half-back or something. I’m not really sure what will happen down the road, but we’ll see. I’m happy to play anywhere.
Jack: It’s just the beginning home. Plenty to look forward to. I’m not sure what’s gonna happen. And then on Instagram, it doesn’t actually say who’s written these, but your favorite exercise, I imagine that would be in the gym. What’s your favorite gym exercise?
Harry: Probably cable. Cable flies.
Jack: Get the chest going.
Harry: Yeah. A bit of a chess pump.
Jack: What about your favorite day of the week?
Harry: Game day? Saturday or Sunday.
Jack: This one was also sent through Instagram stories. Alicia. ‘How do you go about recovering your body when you’re feeling a bit fatigued and sore going into a gap? What’s your favorite recovery methods?’
Harry: So this year I’ve put a lot of work into my recovery. We actually got an infrared Soner at home, which has been really big. I’ve been doing that multiple times a week. Flushes the body out and it’s really good for the muscles. So I do that post game day and also before a game, the night before. And then, I also started getting massages frequently post games just to make sure the body recovers quickly and I’m ready for a week of training and then feeling fresh for the game.
Jack: We’ll quickly go back to your influence, your strong influences in your career. Say Jackson Komberg. I believe I wrote that down. It was a strong influence. Take us through exactly how Jackson helped your game to this point.
Harry: He was my under sixteens coach at Dragons. And I came in and then sixteens preseason. And he was probably the first coach I had at that level. And he really looked after me. And the one thing I learned from Jacko is to give a hundred percent into people. And it’s more than just football. So he really cares about the people that he coaches, not just their ability in football. And he also instilled a lot of belief in me and confidence for me to be the best player I can.
Jack: That’s great. What a philosophy, live by people first. What does that mean to you? Like how is that transpired in your life over the last couple of years since you’ve started living that belief?
Harry: Well, it just shows me that the more you give out to people and the more you put an effort into them, they’ll probably reciprocate. And then you’re just a more liked person. People wanna hang around, you wanna learn off you.
And then, he taught me a lot about leadership as well. And also learning from last year Dragons boys, the leadership group there and how well connected that group was. I learned a lot from that and try to implement this process, that Dragons, and then into this season.
Jack: And on that, Dragon’s having another strong year. It’s been a pretty strong program for the last few years. What do you think about that, why is Sandringham Dragons been so strong?
Harry: I think the resources that we have. We have like an unbelievable setup at RSC park. We get like all this in KDA facilities. The great ground gym, and also just the staff are unbelievable how much work they put in. And even volunteers. It’s kind of like already an elite program, feels like an AFL. So I think that’s the main contributor. Definitely.
Jack: There’s been a lot of players that been getting drafted. I think the record was broken recently by Sandringham.
Harry: Yeah. I think last year was 12, which was enormous.
Jack: Unbelievable. This is another question, set it in from YouTube. ‘What’s a tip for being a half-forward who also plays in the midfield. What is your approach when you’re playing that hybrid role?’
Harry: As a forward, I think the main thing I’ve learned is just to be lively, always be on the move. And never let your defender be comfortable playing on you. Don’t let them just sit in the spot that they wanna sit, always on the move, always active. And then high work rate, definitely getting up the ground and then working back hard to try and lose your opponent on the way back. That’s the main thing for a forward.
And then when you do go into the midfield, just to give it a hundred percent, go hard at the contest, be on the move, try and be creative. They’re probably the main things.
Jack: Fantastic, mate. Love that. That’s great. There’s some massive points. So working on your being on the move and being agile, that’s something that is a strong suit of yours. What have you done to work on that craft and to be able to really strengthen your weapon? What are some of your focuses in training to improve your agility and your ability to be able to stay on the move?
Harry: I think my agility and just like natural, decision making and that is probably that’s very natural. I’ve done that my whole junior career. And then I have a lot of confidence with that. And then obviously I’ve been able to support that with gym work, like me and you. We’ve been doing a bit of that agility stuff and power stuff, lower body stuff recently. And I think that just supports it. So you can’t just be natural ability that gets you to…
Jack: And how important is it? You mentioned that that’s something that you’ve had naturally. How important is it to really focus on your strengths?
Harry: That’s probably the main thing I did learn, come into Dragons. They stress, the way you get drafted is having really good strengths rather than being okay or just good at everything. So the more elite strengths that you have and weapons you have, the more that will set you apart from the rest of the cohort, I guess.
Jack: It makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? Cause that’s your assets, that’s what’s gonna set you apart from the rest, and whether that’s to get drafted or make a website, whatever it might be. They’re probably the reasons why the coach puts you in those positions is because of your strengths and allows you play your best footy and you probably enjoy playing that style as well.
Harry: I think that’s what’s most appealing for clubs and recruiters for any level. Absolutely.
Jack: And you mentioned work rate, that is something that’s so important in the game these days for half-forwards to be able to not only work hard when their team’s got the ball, but also, like you mentioned, off the ball too, and run your opponent off your feet. What are some of your favorite ways to get fit? More so when you’re in the off-season, pre-season, how do you go about your condition?
Harry: I do a lot of long distance running. Just like 10Ks, 5Ks, just to, I guess, compliment my harder sessions, like my four hundreds and repeat hundreds and all that. So we have Dragons program that we get in the preseason. So I do most of that. And then I compliment that with a lot of longer distance runnings, just to get, I guess, that extra bit of distance into your legs. And I feel like that helps me run out games and get the Ks up during.
Jack: And flipping into the note out, there’s some challenges that you faced in your career. What would be at this point your biggest challenge that you’ve faced and what did you learn from overcoming that challenge?
Harry: My biggest challenge was probably in inter league, under fifteens. I didn’t make the one team. I had stress fractures that preseason going into that year. But I probably still thought I was probably eligible, probably should have made that team, the 15 ones. And I was pretty distraught when I didn’t. I remember that night going home and crying a bit and a bit confused.
I remember sending an email to the coach at the time and not saying that I should have, but asking why. And he probably said that I just wasn’t up to the level. So that taught me that you probably not everything’s just gifted to. It wasn’t really a wake-up call because I feel like I worked pretty hard even then, it was more just to show you that nothing’s just handed to you and you can never be comfortable.
Jack: And then where is that transpired into who you are today? What would be some things that, how has that helped you, I guess, into who you are today?
Harry: I think that’s just shown me, like we have whatever level I get to or whatever I accomplish, to be satisfied with that and acknowledge that and be grateful for it to not just take it for granted. Cuz you never know what’s gonna happen. Maybe that’s your best achievement, so may as well appreciate it when it happens.
Jack: And you’re a Han fan. Who was your favorite player growing up? And then who’s your favorite current Han player?
Harry: Growing up, definitely Buddy. He’s my all time favorite. I think he is the go for sure. And at the moment I love all of them. They’re really like an exciting group. Jack Grimshaw probably.
Jack: And Franklin, the best of all time.
Harry: Yeah, definitely the most talented. Just love watching. He’s super entertaining.
Jack: It’s unbelievable. The things he can do that’s for sure. Going back, we’re going into in-season focuses, but going back to your off-season, preseason focus, coming into your draft year, for those that might be listening to the podcast recording or even live that are going into their draft year. How did you up the stakes in your preseason going into this year to ensure that you’re well prepared and resilient from injury, but also that you’re gonna play your best footy?
Harry: So that year, that preseason I had stress fractures, taught me a lot about my body and also the way to train, like how to train smart. So I learned from that, probably cuz I got those stress fractures from overload. I probably was doing too much and just trying to do everything that I could. So from that I learned. The less, the better, and just train, train.
When you are training, give it your all and train smart, like not doing it multiple sessions a day and planning well, and also focusing on recovery and other little things like Pilates. I’ve done a lot of that since my back injury, just to stay on top of that extra little bit of strength. And so Pilates and then staying consistent was the main thing. Doing multiple gym sessions, like two upper body, two lower body per week, and then three to four running sessions and also a lot of variety to make sure I’m still motivated.
Jack: It’s a great message for young footballers, mate. How you mentioned, it’s not always more is better. Obviously you’ve gotta put in the work to build your capacity, but like you said, training smart is looking after your long career, which is probably more important, trying to prevent injuries. Cause that’s never fun. Stress factors in your back when you got that injury at that point, just for those listening in you said you were over training, what did a typical week look like at that stage?
Harry: So it was actually COVID as well. So a lot of time in your hands, a lot of time in my hands and sitting down all day, probably wasn’t great for my back on Zoom. But I was probably just running every day. Just doing the same hard sessions every day. Just back to back. Not on great surfaces either. I was doing a lot of road running. So a lot of gym work, probably lifting heavily with not the right technique either. So just combination of them probably put a bit too much stress on it.
Jack: And then get educator who is helping you along the way in terms of Pilates is gonna help strengthen your core. And then also the fact that running on certain surfaces isn’t the greatest for the joints in your body. So who is guiding you and giving you this back, doing rehab phase?
Harry: My physio was really good. David Francis. He’s excellent with physio. He was really knowledgeable on it and I’d see him regularly for treatment. And then also advice on how to progress my training slowly. Get back to where I need to be. And then they also have someone there who is really experienced on Pilates. So he recommended me, hit me to him. And I did a bit of technique work with him as well. So they were great.
Jack: Fantastic. And then is it something that you continually manage? Is there exercises you have to do regularly with your back? Or is it something that’s pretty good now?
Harry: Thankfully, it’s pretty good now. I think they just always stay around, but it’s just managing the pain and that. But I haven’t had any issues with it, like in the last couple years, thankfully. So what was the second half of the question?
Jack: No, that was it. Fantastic. That’s great. So, alright. We’re going back into in-season then. What does a typical week look like for you? We’ll start with, let’s say, a Monday. What’s your key focus on a Monday? And then just briefly take us through each day leading into a Saturday game, for example.
Harry: So, on a Monday at Dragons, we do a recovery and review. So Monday afternoon, we’ll probably get there. We have really good facilities, like I said before. So we have a pool at St. Kilda where we go and do a bit of work in there. There’s also a hydro pool, which is good for recovery.
And then we do some mobility stuff, and then we do our review of the game. And if we play it on a Saturday, I’ll probably do a little jog on the Monday just to flush the legs out a bit, like a couple K either before training or at training when I get there.
Jack: So that’s sort of self-driven, that’s something that you add in that you like personally yourself?
Harry: Yeah. I sometimes do a 5k as well. Just to make sure I’m staying on top of my fitness. Cause I feel like during the year I sometimes lose that fitness. So I like doing an extra run just to stay on top of it, outside of training.
Jack: And for those listening, why do you choose to do that on Monday? Just take us through your approach.
Harry: Because I’m probably not as sore the day after a game, if it’s a Saturday game. And it’s also good for the legs. I think it’s probably like the first thing I do post game just to get the legs moving.
And then also cause the training. Kind of removes a bit of the soreness and gets me moving again before Tuesday main session. We do Tuesday, Thursday at Dragons, so they’re the main sessions. And then Wednesday I try and do a lower body workout. So we start doing your program now, since I’ve seen you either like with your, at home.
Thursday main training again, and then Friday, if we’re playing Saturday again, I’ll probably do a light weight session, upper body session. And a bit of a bike or something just to moving.
Jack: So there’s a fair bit of work when you’re throwing year 12, isn’t it?
Harry: Yeah. It’s good balance, though. I’ve improved on that. At the start of the year probably found it a bit hard to keep the balance, but now I’ve got the hang of it.
Jack: And what are some things that have helped with balance? Are you someone that likes to plan your week? Are you a scheduling person? What are some of the things that you like to do to make sure that you don’t get overwhelmed, that you feel on top of all the things that are on your plate?
Harry: I don’t think scheduling really works for me. I just go with the flow cuz a lot can change. Depending on the day, depending what school work I have and the time I have and how my body’s feeling. I’ll decide what I’m gonna do depending on how I’m feeling. And I just try and get as much school work done as possible in the time I have. And if my body’s feeling good, I can just do a light session. Just as an add-on.
Jack: We’ll, we’ll go back to the fans. We’ll go to the YouTube. To start with, Darie Kelsons written in: ‘What’s Harry’s game routine, like warmup before a game?’ Obviously you’ve got your team structures at preparation. Is there that you do outside of that to get yourself up for the game, both mentally as well as?
Harry: Once I get to the ground, it’s probably I just go out on the ground, probably have a few little pot shots at goal and come back into the rooms and we have our team meetings usually like an hour before the game.
So right before that, I’ll do a little roll. Well, I roll at home actually, but then I’ll get there and I’ll do my band work. So just like that lower body. Similar to what we do in the gym. A bit of activation. Some glute bridges. And then I do some squats and then some power squats just to get feeling a bit powerful.
And then right before the team in, I do a bit of a plank just to get the abs and the core turned on. And then, a few push-ups to get the upper body going and then team meeting. And then we do our warmup.
Jack: Fantastic. Thanks, mate. That’s a great insight for footballers listening in. At what point in your footy career, did you start adding in your own preparation? Is that something that you’ve just started or have you been doing that for a couple years? Talk us through that.
Harry: No, I think I’ve been doing it for a couple years. I’ve always been obsessed with trying to find the best way to, I guess, get my body ready and get mentally ready for a game. Feeling my best. And I try and if ever I play a good game, I try and repeat what I did prior. So not superstitions, but I just try and repeat the experience, getting a bit of a routine.
Jack: Body loves routine. For anyone listening in, that just goes to show, it’s almost like you’re approaching your training by the sounds of it by just doing what everyone else does you’re probably going to sit in the same space, where if you can find an edge it’s by finding these extra, they’re going to give you a competitive edge. So makes a lot of sense. Noah Dowley on Instagram has written. ‘What’s your favorite pre-game meal? Do you have a set meal that you eat?
Harry: Yeah. So the day before I’ll have pasta for lunch. Usually people do it for dinner, but I do it for lunch. And then the night before a game, I usually have chicken and rice. And then a protein shake.
Jack: And you mentioned that is pretty typical. The footballers past the night before. Why do you like having it for lunch and then having rice and chicken the night before?
Harry: I’m actually not too sure. I did it a while ago and I’ve just kept it. I think maybe past it was probably a bit too much the night before, so I probably did it the day before. And then chicken’s a bit of protein as well, which is good for the body. As well as with some rice, which is carbs as well. So I’m still getting the carbs. So I think that’s a good balance.
Jack: A hundred percent. I’m not a sports dietician, so you’d want to consult with the dietician, but part can be quite heavy on your digestive system for those listening in. So make sure you listen to your body, the body’s pretty intelligent giving your feedback and I reckon I’m backing your intuition there. I reckon you’re onto something there, mate.
Harry: Well, I’m not sure, I don’t know any dieticians, but I’ve just done what works best for me.
Jack: It makes a lot of sense. And Bryce is a lot easier to metabolize her to do that while you’re at rest at night time. Hopefully, he’s gonna allow you to have a quality night sleep as well. So love that. We’ll do couple more from the Instagram. There’s a bit of tanning stuff going on. So a bit of banter from the Dragons?
Harry: Are they the Dragon?
Jack: I’m not sure. A couple about tanning tips.
Harry: Yeah. They think I use tanning lotion.
Jack: Just one person Corey Berman’s written in. ‘Do you prefer beep test or yoyo inten mitten test?’
Harry: I’m a yoyo. I’m an IO guy. I actually like them both. They’re probably suited to me cuz I think I use a bit of agility to get a bit of an edge. To get that turn going. I’d try and turn really quickly. And that helps me and saves a bit of energy as well.
Jack: This one’s a good one. So, dos toss pods. It might be another podcast. ‘Harry, you seem, quite composed in the media on AFL 360. What do you put that down to?’ Do you know this person?
Harry: Yeah, they’re my mates. There’s a podcast that they started and I was actually on at the start big chat out. So they probably want me to say. But definitely not.
Jack: Fair enough. We’ll delete them off Instagram then. All right. We’ll go back to the real deal. Going back into your football preparation. Are there any key areas on game day that you’d like to do to reset? So maybe the first quarter didn’t quite go to plan for the team and as an individual, you mentioned leadership. What are some things that you’ve liked to do to reset and refocus and ensure that the team as well as yourself individually gonna perform well in the second quarter? Or it could be first half being the third quarter.
Harry: So actually, Dave Butk taught me a lot about that. If it’s not going your way, how to reset. So whenever I get a chance to just sink in, like sync what’s happened in and process it, I try and reset if it’s not going my way. And like restart, there’s still time left. And I can still impact.
So that’s really helped me, especially this year, stuff hasn’t gone my way or games haven’t gone my way. I think I’ve still been able to do a few things that have shown my talent, I guess.
And then, like you said, also leadership-wise, just getting around others, making sure they’re feeling good. They’re happy with how they’re playing and then, I feel like if you put work, if you put effort into others, it might turn for you.
Jack: Love that great mindset, mate. Like you said, at the very start of the podcast that give first mentality and how that gives back. So I think if every player thinks that way, that the team’s gonna be in pretty good place and, no doubt, that’s probably a big factor. Why Sandringham Dragons are going so well with. With leaders like yourself involved just leaning in a little bit more into pro, that system that you talked about, that Butters taught you and that you’ve been practicing in resetting in games.
It’s a really important thing for developing footballers to start practicing this aspect because the physical side’s talked about a lot and the physical side probably hasn’t that much, but I think the sport psychology is something that is growing a lot at the top level. And it’s starting to drip feed all the way through into our sport, which is great. You mentioned processing what’s going on in the game and then focusing on how to make an impact. Can you talk a little bit more detail?
When you’re processing that, are you sitting in the rooms? Is it happening while you’re actually in the game when, obviously, you’ve not got the ball, but maybe on the bench? When you’re a little bit away from the game, talk us through, how do you process in the game of football?
Harry: It’s probably just whenever I have a bit of time to myself, like if the ball’s down the other end or it is like quarter time or halftime and just whenever it comes to mind, really, whenever I think about it, that tells me that I’m probably not playing that well or not doing what I want to. So, I just reset.
And I think someone taught me recently that if you just fake it till you make it, do the things that you do when you are playing well, just try and do them and then, hopefully, it turns for you.
Jack: And then when you wanna make an impact, what part of game are you focusing on?
Harry: Just your strengths. Back yourself in, have confidence that you are able to have a good game and impact positively.
Jack: Very good. Awesome, mate. That’s very good. We’ll move into the personal side of the podcast. So to get-to-know-Harry side. So with this one you don’t have to have a life motto or a quote, but do you have a favorite, inspirational quote or life motto that you like to live by?
Harry: Not really. It’s just probably like work hard. Like hard. I actually know hard work pays off. I’ve got that hung up in my room.
Jack: Oh, very good. Nice, mate. And then, let’s just say, in your work life. So when you are at training, in the football mode, whether it be game day, at training, in the gym recovery, whatever it might be, what are your pet peeves?
Harry: What can fire you up in the gym and training?
Jack: Yeah, it might be a staff member, a player. Is there anything that is a pet peeve of yours?
Harry: Not really. Just maybe when people aren’t giving it all or focusing or anything.
Jack: Okay. So, they’re not giving, I guess that goes back to your quote. They’re not putting in the work. And favorite way to spend your day off?
Harry: Probably, golf. It’s a bit hard with school and footy this year, but whenever I get the time, I try and play.
Jack: Is that a driving range or do you go with mates?
Harry: Probably play nine or 18. That’s probably better.
Jack: And what about favorite holiday destination worldwide?
Harry: Bali cuz the weather. Yeah, lovely. The sun probably a bit cuz of my tan there, but no. Definitely.
Jack: Awesome, mate. While we’re at the final section of the podcast, if anyone’s got any final questions for Harry, feel free to send them through. But thanks for jumping on, mate. What are you most excited about for 2022? I can probably guess the answer, but take us through what’s on the horizon for you? There’s a fair bit.
Harry: Yeah. Well, definitely the long term goal is to hopefully get drafted as high as I can. And then also finish school and do pretty well there.
And then, they’re long term goals, but trying not to focus too hard on them. Just playing it week by week, game by game. Every school thing I have, like sack by SAC. So just focusing week by week and giving it my all every game. Cause I think if you look too far ahead, you get a bit distracted.
Jack: Cliché and footy. Week by week. Definitely big.
Harry: Yeah. Few cliché things.
Jack: Now we’ve been doing our sessions at Schwartz Fitness. And since you’ve been coming in I’ve definitely got the feeling of how big of an impact you’ve made on the Ajax football club. Talk us through Ajax for those that aren’t aware. And talk us through how long you’ve played there for. And then your connection with the club to this day. I know you’ve got your commitments to a Sandy, obviously, in big Metro, but what does Ajax mean to you?
Harry: Yeah, it means a lot. So Ajax is like the local Jewish club here in Melbourne. They’re part of the SM JFL. So I played there from under nines, bottom age, till through to sixteens until I got into Dragons. And it meant a lot for my development. Played with all my mates from school there.
And the Jewish community is like such a strong community and Ajax football club’s like another way to like people, people just get around each other. Everyone’s so supportive of each other. The Jewish community does love their footy.
So at school as well, I played with most of my schoolmates, so it was kind of just like a really fun time. I remember playing there. And I still played senior footy at Ajax last year with a lot of people I knew in the community and my cousin as well. S just to be able to enjoy my footy as well with the people that I know and such a strong community was big for my development and just made me love footy.
Jack: Fantastic. Well said, mate. And for the rest of the year for you, obviously you’ve got year 12, which you mentioned, you’re putting some good energy and time into that, but from a football perspective, obviously, there’s some big games ahead. And then you’ve also got the combine.
So leading up to the draft, how do you go about getting that balance right between performing, like you said, week after week with games and then also having the combine dangling over your head as well?
Harry: That’s the thing, I wanna stay pretty consistent with my training. Not just focusing on the games and recovering from that, but also making sure I have a good base fitness and I’m staying on top of my gym work. So then when the drive combine does come around, I’m already prepared to do like that block of training that we’ll probably do together. So just not starting too low and having a strong base that I can then elevate myself even more.
Jack: It’s great approach, mate. Because obviously it’s not just setting yourself up for this year, but also your first, hopefully, no doubt, your first April pre-season where the workload’s gonna go from semi-football to full-time footy. So it’s great that you’re doing all these extra things that you no doubt will pay dividends for next year.
Well, thank you so much for jumping on, mate, and sharing with us some insights. I’m a strong believer that success leaves clues and you’ve dropped some clues all the way through from minute one, mate, for developing footballers. So thanks for jumping on and spending some time on the podcast.
For those interested to ask some questions or follow your football journey, where’s the best place to get in contact, mate?
Harry: Just Instagram, I guess.
Jack: We’ll add the link in the show notes for those listening in on the podcast. Thanks again, mate, for jumping on and looking forward to our Zoom sessions next week. So make sure you have a great game your weekend, mate.
Harry: Thanks Jack. Thanks for having me on. Appreciate it.
Jack: Awesome. And for everyone that’s tuned in, thanks for jumping on. Our next Prepare Like A Pro live chat show will be this Friday at 8:30 PM with Justin Crow, who’s the head performance manager at Melbourne Victory. That’s this Friday at 8:30 PM. I’ll see you guys then.
Today, we’re going to be taking a look at the Playertek GPS football tracking system. This is a platform that allows you to track your performance on the football field, as well as monitor your team’s progress in real-time. We’ll be looking at how the system works, its features, and how it can benefit players and coaches alike. So, if you’re interested in learning more about this innovative new product, read on!
What is Playertek GPS?
Playertek is a wearable GPS tracker that monitors your on-field performance and provides real-time data and analysis (Boothype, n.d.). The device attaches to your jersey and has a small display that shows your maximum speed, distance covered, number of hard efforts, and other statistics like work rate.
Playertek also has a companion app that provides more detailed information about your performance, including live data to monitor your training load as it happens. The app also allows you to set training goals and track your progress over time. Whether you’re a professional player looking to gain an edge on the competition, a casual player who just wants to improve your game, or a strength & conditioning coach sports scientist looking to monitor your team’s progress, Playertek is a valuable tool.
Proof of the platform’s effectiveness is its popularity among all the AFL clubs. There are a few top-tier teams that have adopted Playertek GPS as part of their training regime. It is also widely used in the English Premier League and the United States by college, high school, and even professional teams in the National Basketball Association, National Football League, and Major League Baseball.
Playertek has proven to be a crucial tool for AFL and AFLW strength & conditioning coaching staff, allowing them to monitor player fatigue, recovery, and form. It has also been used by coaches to help plan training drills specific to the way they want the team to play and track player progress. On the other hand, strength & conditioning coaches have used Playertek to monitor athletes’ progress and ensure they are meeting their training goals.
In short, there is a lot that Playertek GPS can do for players and coaches at all levels of the game. If you’re looking to take your performance to the next level or simply want to get a better understanding of your game to better prepare yourself during the pre-season.
How Does Playertek Work?
The device uses a combination of GPS and GLONASS satellite tracking to monitor your movement on the field (Playertek, n.d.). It then sends this data to the companion app via Bluetooth, which is processed and displayed in an easy-to-understand format.
One of the key features of Playertek is its ability to track player load. The system uses a proprietary algorithm to monitor players’ movements and calculate their level of load. This information is then displayed in the app, so coaches can decide when to substitute players, or adjust training programs accordingly.
Playertek is also able to provide detailed heat maps of players’ routes, as well as heart rate data. This information can be used to identify areas where players are struggling or pinpoint areas of the field where they are most effective.
Other metrics that Playertek can measure and monitor are:
Activity Chart (speed every 0.1 seconds)
5-minute breakdown (all metrics –great for reviewing performance within a game)
Season workload chart (view a player’s full season)
Player head-to-head comparison (same or another player, different periods or sessions, metrics, and heat maps)
Session Workload metrics – numbers and radar chart
Session Intensity metrics – numbers and radar chart
Daily Team charts –all selected players, all metrics in bar charts, and single-click PDF reports.
Monthly Team charts –all selected players, all metrics in bar charts, and single-click PDF reports
Field Coverage (Heat Maps)
Milestones and achievements (Maths, n.d.)
What are the Benefits of Having Playertek?
There are many benefits that come with having Playertek GPS. First, it provides coaches with valuable information about their players’ performance. This data can be used to decide on training programs, substitutions, and game strategies.
Additionally, Playertek is an excellent tool for player development. The platform can be used to track progress and identify areas of improvement. This information is valuable for coaches and players, as it can help tailor training programs and focus on specific areas.
Playertek is also a valuable tool for monitoring player fatigue. The system’s ability to track player movements and calculate work rate levels is an important tool for preventing injuries. By knowing when players are starting to feel fatigued, coaches can make decisions about when to substitute them or adjust training programs.
Finally, Playertek GPS is a great way to improve team communication. The platform’s ability to provide detailed heat maps and player routes is an invaluable tool for identifying areas of the field where players are struggling or finding success. This information can be used to make adjustments to game plans and strategies.
The Bottom Line
Playertek GPS is a powerful platform that can be used by coaches and players at all levels to improve performance. The system’s ability to track player movements, calculate work rate levels, and provide detailed heat maps is an invaluable tool for player development and game strategy. If you’re looking to take your game to the next level, Playertek is definitely worth considering.
Another way you can take your game to the next level is through Prepare Like A Pro. Whether you need personal attention or online training, Prepare Like A Pro can help Aussie Rule Football players prepare just like the pros do. Whether it’s through Melbourne strength training, online AFL coaching, or one-on-one sessions, we can help you take your game to the next level. Contact us today to learn more!
Considered to be one of the more naturally-talented footballers in the 2022 AFL draft, Harry Sheezel is a name that will be well-known to most footy fans by the end of the season. The 18-year-old from Melbourne has already shown he has what it takes to compete at the top level, having been named in the 2022 NAB AFL Academy – Australia U18 Team that took on Collingwood’s VFL team last month.
Sheezel is a powerful and athletic midfielder who is capable of playing both inside and outside. He has good speed and agility and is known for his hard work and determination. Sheezel is also a very good kick, which will no doubt be a valuable asset at the next level.
Sheezel is expected to be one of the first players—a surefire 10 draft pick—taken in the 2022 AFL draft, and he will no doubt be a big part of whatever team he ends up playing for. It will be exciting to see what he can do at the highest level, and footy fans should keep an eye on this young star in the making.
He is a full-time member of the Sandringham Dragons, and has made the most of his opportunity this season. Sheezel has set his claim as a rotating midfielder and has significant upside as a player who can win matches with his own boot after scoring 14 goals in six games, including bags of four and six goals.
Sheezel’s goal-kicking ability is well-known at this point, as seen by the aforementioned NAB League statistics. The deft medium type was also a standout in his lone Vic Metro appearance against the Young Guns, where he was thrust into the AFL Academy’s midfield late in the game on a day when his team’s forwards struggled. If his 28 disposals and six goals against Tasmania were a breakthrough game, his 37 touches against Northern in Round 9 served as the ideal audition for a permanent midfielder spot.
An Inspiration to the Jewish Community
Sheezel was only 16 when he experienced playing at the senior level, suiting up for his club Ajax in Victoria’s amateurs’ tournament last year. He earned the right, having emerged from the juniors program as the clear-cut best and brightest. During his debut, he kicked four goals from full-forward against Fitzroy at Brunswick Street Oval, including one goal that he described as “pretty good”.
“I had a bit of a day out,” Sheezel said in an article on AFL.com.au. “Playing juniors with Ajax was massive my whole life and it was so much fun to play with people from the community in the senior side as well.”
It was also during that time when Sheezel began feeling an immense outpouring of support for his football journey from the Jewish community. It also helped a great deal that Ajax is based in Melbourne’s inner south-eastern suburbs and is the country’s only Jewish football club.
With Jewish representation in the AFL historically low, Sheezel figures to be a role model for aspiring Jewish footballers not just in Melbourne, but also around the country. He is an AFL player of the future that the community can rally behind and one that could potentially inspire the next generation of Jewish footballers. To date, only Todd Goldstein (North Melbourne), Ezra Poyas (Richmond and Melbourne), and Julian Kirzner (Essendon, Carlton, and North Melbourne) have made it to the big stage of the AFL.
“There haven’t been as many Jewish footballers lately to make it into the AFL, so it’s kind of special to hopefully be the first one [drafted] in a while. Everyone has been so supportive and living it with me, in a sense,” Sheezel said.
“I hope to be pretty inspiring for younger kids as well because I feel like the Jewish community is really into the sport as well, they love their footy, so hopefully I can inspire a few more kids to hopefully go down the same path.
“Along the way you see how much it means to people in the community. I never really thought of it until I’ve started to be in the media a little bit more and everyone is all over it now. It’s pretty cool. And at school it’s kind of new for them, they don’t really know how to act and neither do I so I just embrace it.”
Shezeel currently attends Mount Scopus—one of Australia’s foremost Jewish schools. It was there where he really got to learn more about his culture and faith, something that he is extremely proud of. Being at Mount Scopus has also given Sheezel the opportunity to focus on playing for the Dragons in the NAB League.
Sheezel has already shown that he is more than capable of shouldering the responsibility that comes with being a potential AFL footballer and an inspiration to the Jewish community. With his undeniable talent and character, there is no doubt that Harry Sheezel has what it takes to be a successful AFL player. All that’s left now is for him to take that next step and fulfill his dream.
“There’s still a long way to go and a lot of important games to be played. I don’t want to look too far ahead and just focus on each game and each month at a time, because the last two years have shown us that you just have to be present and do the best you can when you play because the next week and the future aren’t guaranteed,” Sheezel said.
“But I think about the draft every second. My life is oriented around it and footy. Everything I do I try to better myself to put myself in the best position I can.”
Sheezel is also one of the ambassadors of Prepare Like A Pro, an organization that helps young footballers with difficulties improve their athleticism, by teaching them sustainable lifestyle tips with a personalized program.
An AFL speed forwarder and defender train by doing a variety of exercises that help them improve their speed and agility. One of the most important things for these players is to be able to change direction quickly. This allows them to get around opponents and make tackles which are key performance indicators for speed forwards and defenders. In this blog post, we will discuss how AFL speed forwards & defenders train and look at the exercises that these players do to improve their performance on the field.
What is an AFL Speed Forward?
An AFL speed forward is a player whose primary role on the field is to create space and get down the pitch quickly. This can be done through a variety of different techniques, from using quick cuts and changes of pace to making big, hard-cutting runs. Whatever their method, effective speed forwards are key players in any successful AFL team because they help to open up passing lanes and break down defensive formations.
Due to the demanding nature of their role, speed forwards requires tremendous levels of athleticism and endurance in order to perform at the highest level for an entire game or match. And because the speed forward position requires such a high degree of skill, many teams will seek out young players with a natural flair for moving quickly across the field and making snap decisions in order to cultivate them into top-level athletes.
What is an AFL Speed Defender?
An AFL speed defender is a type of player who excels at intercepting and defusing the opposition’s forward thrusts. Typically, these players are top athletes with superior speed, agility, and coordination. They are experts at reading the play and positioning themselves to cut off offensive drives, catch passes, steal the ball, and disrupt offensive sets.
Because they have such an important role on the field, AFL speed defenders often work closely with their team’s coach to strategize about how to deal with different types of offensive attacks. At the highest levels of competition, AFL speed defenders have to be fast learners and highly adaptable in order to keep up with the ever-changing movements of their opponents. Whether it’s testing new defensive formations or refining their skillset through drills and training sessions, these players never stop working to become better at what they do.
How Do AFL Speed Forwarder & Defender Train?
So how do these players train? For starters, both speed forwards and defenders need to have a base level of fitness to perform at the highest level. This means that they need to be able to run long distances and sprint without tiring. What kind of AFL fitness training should these players be doing?
One of the most important things for speed forwards and defenders is to be able to change direction quickly. This can be done through a variety of different exercises, such as sprints, agility drills, and plyometric exercises. These exercises help to improve the player’s coordination and balance, which are essential for changing direction quickly on the field.
Plyometric exercises are a type of exercise that helps to improve explosive power. These exercises are often used by athletes who need to generate a lot of force in a short period of time, such as sprinters and jumpers. Some examples of plyometric exercises include box jumps, medicine ball throws, and jump squats. These exercises help to improve the player’s ability to generate force quickly, which is essential for sprinting and making quick changes of direction.
In addition to plyometric exercises, speed forwards and defenders also need to do a lot of sprint work. This helps them to develop the endurance and leg strength necessary for running long distances at high speeds. Sprinting also helps to improve the player’s coordination and balance.
Speed forwards and defenders also need to have a strong upper body. This helps them to be able to shrug off tackles, maintain their balance when being pushed around, and generate more force when tackling or jumping. Upper body strength can be developed through a variety of different AFL strength & conditioning exercises, such as weightlifting, push-ups, and pull-ups.
Finally, speed forwards and defenders need to have good mental toughness. This helps them to deal with the challenges of playing such a demanding position. They need to be able to maintain their focus for long periods of time and make quick decisions under pressure. Many players find that meditation and visualization techniques help them to develop the mental toughness necessary for success on the field.
By following a proper training regimen that impacts the necessary AFL fitness components, speed forwards and defenders can become some of the most dangerous players on the field. They possess a unique combination of speed, agility, strength, and mental toughness that allows them to take over games and make plays that other players simply cannot. If you’re looking to take your game to the next level, then emulating the training regimen of an AFL speed forward or defender is a great place to start.
Watch our presentation on how a developing speed forward and defender should train to maximise performance:
Contact us to get started on your journey to becoming an AFL speed forward and defender. Our expert coaches will help you every step of the way with tailored programs and drills that will improve your athleticism and confidence. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced player, we can help you take your game to the next level.
The 300 gamer for Hawthorn, 3 time premiership player 2 of which as captain, inducted in AFL hall of fame, team of the century hawthorn fc and founder of the company operation payback which was instrumental in preventing Melbourne & hawthorn merging
What successful leaders in the team should possess
How he inspired footballers who looked up to him
How he condition his mental side before the game
Don’s challenges as a player
Highlights of his career
How he helped to prevent Hawthorn FC from merging to Melbourne FC in the ’90s
Jack: Welcome back to the ‘Prepare Like A Pro’ podcast. My name is Jack McLean. I’m the host and in today’s episode I interview Don Scott. Don played over 300 games for the Hawthorn Football Club; a three time premiership player, two of which he was captain; inducted in the AFL Hall of Fame; Team of the Century for the Hawthorn Football Club and the founder of the company Operation Payback, which was instrumental in preventing Melbourne and Hawthorn from merging.
Highlights from this episode: we talk about the importance of using constructive feedback from mentors to improve yourself in life, business and football; Don’s ABC strategy, which was developed from senior coach Kennedy for getting better as a player; Don’s experiences in media content and the Channel Seven games, business, and horse training; how his business managed to prevent the merge between the Melbourne Football Club and Hawthorn.
Before we start this episode, for those wanting to improve your 2K time and gain a competitive edge, hire a Prepare Like A Pro coach and join our individualized coaching program. You can join our email list to receive a two week free program and free master class presentation. All up valued at $99.
Let’s get into today’s episode. Thank you, Don, for coming onto today’s episode.
Don: Thank you, Jack.
Jack: It’s good to be back in the ‘You Cannot Be Serious’ studio.
Don: Yeah, this will make more sense than what that does. What we say half the time that’s the thing I forget. As soon as I walk out, that’s it.
Jack: You guys are smashing some content. I’ve just walked in guys to the studio and they’ve already had four episodes. So, if you’re not following the podcast, make sure to follow ‘You Cannot Be Serious’ with Sam and Don. And I’ve been lucky enough to have them on. But we’ll start at the very beginning of your story, mate. Where did you play your junior footy?
Don: Well, I played at school, but I wasn’t good enough. I tried at Blackburn Under 16s as a young boy and wasn’t good enough to make that team. I don’t know, probably in third form. What’s it? Year nine now. Then I went down to Box Hill Under 17s a year or two later.
They weren’t a good team. They played in the Melbourne Boys League against all the league teams. All the league teams back then had eight fourths, which was Under 17s, and Box Hill never won a game. We used to get fresh each week because all of these boys would go down to elite club, hoping that it’d be their entry through the seconds and the seniors.
But I got into a bit of trouble at home with my father. And he said, ‘You’re not playing football.’ So the only time I could play was at school, and back then school competition was much more organized. I went to a high school and we’d played all the various schools in the district. And I was lucky enough to be spotted by scouts from Hawthorn and also Richmond, while I was playing one of those games. So, I was just lucky that I was joining on the spot.
Jack: That’s interesting. Why didn’t your dad want you to play the game?
Don: Well, it was called punishment. I used to get into a bit of trouble at home. It’s a bit different nowadays, I don’t think fathers are doing that. Let’s just say, it was much different to what it is now and it was discipline for me. And there were many other types of discipline handed out and so that was the way of parenting in those days or his mode of parenting.
Jack: And on that note, I know from doing a little bit of research before doing this episode, you began your horse riding at a young age. I believe it’s seven years old, you rode a horse every day.
Don: Yeah, I did. And again, I suppose that’s the father’s influence. If you have horses, animals, you’ve got to look after them. And those horses were in a paddock and you just can’t leave them in the paddock, they’ve got to be exercised. And also the fact that we were competing, I was competing at shows and various events and whatever else. And so, just like any athletes, you had to keep them going.
You learn through your life and I do remember being very naive and competing in a one-day event at Flemington Racecourse, and my pony came in after the cross-country in a layer of sweat. Now, I was naïve, didn’t know their fitness. I was young a bit, twelve. And I got a serve from the steward, a real bite. And that helped me instead later on, especially with regard to football. If you’re going to do something, do it properly.
The following year I remember that bike and that horse, we completed again in the same event, 12 months later, and that horse was jumping out of his skin because I took him up to the orchards in Don caster. I lived in Box Hill and I got him really fit, so fit that he was just bouncing. And he wouldn’t blow out a candle at the end of the cross-country. He did particularly well. So that I took as the lesson in life. And I remember that one indelibly, because he gave me this…
Jack: It was responding to feedback.
Don: Well, feedback. Negative reinforcement, I suppose. But again, that’s the way the society was. You weren’t complimented, you were told you did something wrong. Same with coaching or anything. It was just different. Everybody wants positive feedback now. Anyway, that is society.
And I think I’m at odds with it. Because I look at the negatives and try and fix the negatives. I can’t see what’s the point of looking at the positives. The positives are there and they seem to come along naturally. But you’ve got to look at the negatives to make yourself better. So, I’m more that way inclined.
Jack: It’s good for the athletes tuned in that want to get better, responding to negative feedback in that manner, where it’s, like you said, it was a shock to the system, but it put you on a good path.
Don: Well, we didn’t question either. And again, society was different then. We respected our peers and especially older people. And when an older person said something, you never questioned that. That was just the way we were brought up. But nowadays there seems to be this questioning all the time, whether it’s good or bad.
And I am still learning. Unfortunately, there are not enough people, especially with the horses, I’m involved with horses. I just hang on the words of all the people who had experience in work with horses in their life. And I still listen to some people who’ve had that connection. Because you can still learn. You don’t question, you learn. You should always be, I personally do that, taking stuff in from people that you respect.
Jack: And that have experience. It makes a lot of sense. And like you said, the things that are going well, whether because you’re talented in it, because you’ve found a good recipe, and success leaves clues, so you’re onto something. By focusing on the areas that aren’t going so well and putting energy into that, allows you to be great and successful in that.
Don: Well, you’ve got to be analytic and you’ve got to be very honest with yourself and know yourself as an athlete, if we’re talking about athletes. And I think even in business, you’ve got to complement yourself. I’ve been in business and self-employed in the age of 22. And so, you’ve got to know yourself and complement yourself, because there’s not that person around who was the perfect individual, perfect athlete. Perfect individual, perfect businessman. You’ve got to complement, know your strengths and then complement them, or back your weaknesses.
Jack: That’s great. For those tuned in there’s some gems to write down. It’s something that at Prepare Like A Pro we do, we have a get-better plan where you’ve got to focus on an area that you’re attacking and that’s a great way to go about it. And that’s actually something we had on the podcast yesterday. Talk about your limiting factor and attack that one limiting factor. What’s holding you back the most and top that up.
So, on that note of people that have experience and that you respect, that are either older than you, or they’ve just got more experience in that area, from a football point of view, did you have mentors or influences in your game early on? And who, if so?
Don: It depends on what area you’re talking about. If you give a specific area, because even in football you break it down. It’s not just one thing. There are many aspects to football and depending on where you want to start…
In my case I got it down to, I believe, ABC, and I based all mine around what is the game you’re playing? In football you’ve got to get the ball and you’ve got to do something with it. They’re pretty basic. So, all my training was around getting the ball, and there’s many different ways and you complement that by a lot of things: speed, strength and whatever else, to get the ball.
And then you’ve got to do something with it. So, it comes to skill or executing. You still need strength, you still need speed to do something with it. But also, you’ve got to recognize there’s an opponent, and he will get the ball and he will do something with it. So, you’ve got to limit that as well.
So, they are my three ABCs, but those ABCs also related to my training. How do I make myself better in getting the ball, doing something with it and restricting my opponents? So, they could come back to speed, endurance, strength. Or whatever, positioning on the ground. And so, that’s what it always came back to.
Jack: That’s great. For those listening in, so it’s ability to get the ball, ability to do something effective with it, for the team. And then what about the competitive side? Is that analyzing who you’re going to play?
Don: It goes across the whole thing, if you’re competitive in all of those things. Yes, you’ve got to be allied to that. If you’re playing against a team or an opponent, you’ve got to be able to break that opponent down. So, is he strong or whatever else? And then you’ve got to be able to counter that. Now, if he’s particularly strong in an area, you’ve got to offset that because that might be a weakness with you.
If it’s a difference in height, you might use your mobility against his height. It’s a simple thing. You’re running him around, running around or make him run faster or quicker than what he is. But, for example, so he’s tall, he’s taking a mark. Well, you’ve got to be able to punch the ball away, you’ve got to limit him too. So you work on that, you don’t get caught behind. Those are the intricacies of the game.
Jack: And how did you come up with that ABC philosophy?
Don: Well, I suppose I learned it. Again, learned it. I had a coach in John Kennedy who was very basic in his training. And so, I learned those things from him. Then you have another coach that informs you with regard to skill and that, I suppose, that was Parkin to a degree, David Parkin.
But then you look and I listen to other athletes. I remember Geoff Hunt who was a world champion squash player. Won a lot of squash tournaments through the 70s. And he was talking about his training and how he went one year just too much strength as against the skill of squash or fitness as against the skill of playing the game. And again, I can relate that to. I ran, I concentrated too much on that. So, I was quick enough, but I didn’t have the strength.
It’s a matter of getting the balance, listening to people and taking a bit. You might only get one little thing and you take that and put it in. But it takes a while to accumulate all of this knowledge that you can learn off other people and put it together.
Jack: And that drive to get better and be your best, was that something that was instilled in you from a very young age?
Don: No, I think it depends on your circumstances. I saw this as my way out. You know my sport was football. And back in Melbourne, in those days, you had cricket in summer time and you had football in winter. Basketball wasn’t big, soccer wasn’t big, but those were the dominant sports. They were the dominant sports for men, football in winter. And the other sports didn’t receive much kudos, swimming or athletics, or whatever else.
And being a very small place, Melbourne, I could see what publicity it has attracted with regard to the television and the newspapers, the coverage it received. And I wasn’t particularly gifted at academics, as a scholar, so I could see that this could open up doors. And it certainly did. So, that was my way.
I was, I suppose, hungry, or I really did want football to open up my life and get me things that I couldn’t get in other way. Like academically, I couldn’t get it. But I could get things through football. I used it in my business because of the exposure that it received. But that’s what drove me to try and do the best I certainly could.
Jack: And for the young athletes listening in that are in that similar age, you mentioned you were playing a lower level than some of your other peers of your age at Blackburn, and then in the Box Hill. How did you turn that into then getting drafted?
Don: Again, and this was a problem and it still does exist. It’s a problem. And I see it with horses, animals, because I train horses. And some of them don’t mature at the same rate. As with other people.
And, unfortunately, we’ve got a system now, where boys are selected at 14. Now, we all mature at different levels. I certainly remember starting to get physically strong at 20, although I was pushing weights from the age of 18. I really started to get some bang when I was at the age of 20. So, that was just a logical physical progression and it got better up till the age of 30.
Now, boys, and I’ve seen it so many times. These good kids at 14, back in my time, they represent the state, they are playing, and you think, ‘Geez, what’s wrong with me?’ But if you just let it evolve and you’ve got to look at the parentage and the body shape and all of that stuff.
And, sadly, it still does exist that these boys get pigeonholed at 14, they go into these squads and they go to the Under 18s. And it’s not giving fellows that are playing elsewhere an opportunity. And the recruiting people and the football people are not willing, in a lot of cases, to take somebody on that is a late maturer.
Jack: Yeah. It’s such a good point. What do you think we could put in place to help accommodate these players? There would be some athletes listening that…
Don: Athletes or footballers?
Don: For footballers, I think I would certainly go back to a system where… You know, they’ve cut out the thirds and they’ve reduced the seconds at football clubs now. They got rid of the thirds back in the 90s because of the cost factor. Yet football clubs are now running women’s teams, disabled teams, as well as senior teams. And they’ve got a few blokes to go off and play second rate football and reserve great players.
The primary concern is the men’s team winning apprenticeship. So, consequently, I would get back to thirds, seconds and senior team. By doing that you can take a player up as I do with my horses. You put them in a competition. And it happened when I was at Hawthorn. You’d put a guy into the seconds. He’d perform well in the thirds for a couple of games, and let’s see what he can do in the seconds.
Put him up, let him get the exposure and then see if he can develop. He might have to go back. I’ll jump my horses over a certain height in a competition and then I’ll take them back. You extend them, but you don’t want to frighten them. So, you take them back again. Then you go again. It’s all how they are mentally, physically and whatever else. And it’s the same with footballers.
And if you’ve got that third competition, where the clubs looking after it, they will go and look for boys that are playing in an underage competition Under 16s at the local club, and we’ll invite them down. That’s why I think it should be done instead of specializing and pulling these boys out, selecting boys and putting them into the Oakleigh Chargers or the Dandenong Stingrays or wherever that may be, the Western Jets. They’re pigeonholed.
Jack: There was the Development League a few years ago when I was working with Box Hill, which was great. And that easily could happen. So, you’ve got your Eastern Rangers, which are from that region, and then you’ve got your Box Hill senior men’s, then have relationships with…
Don: A lot of those boys that came from Eastern Rangers into the Development Team had already been tried. I’m talking about boys that might be playing at Mitchell or Donvale, that haven’t quite got through into the Eastern Rangers.
Jack: So, there’d be the Eastern Rangers and then there’d be a third team that’s part of Box Hill?
Don: I’d get rid of the Eastern Rangers full stop. I’d get rid of that and I’ll just wait and take it another, I’d say, Under 19s. Picking up boys at 17 or 16 is not… I’ve watched it when I was playing in the Under 19s, for example, and in six months boys that I played with one year, the next year they were no good. They went off because other boys had caught up. And it’s interesting how boys mature and change and in six months a player can go off. A player can come on in that six months over the season.
Jack: So, basically, play with your local club.
Don: Well, that’s what I think the structure should be.
Jack: And then that would be giving back to grassroots as well, because they’re not losing their talented players.
Don: All of that. And if a boy is any good, now I follow Sorrento. Now, if a boy is any good at 17, he’ll be playing in the senior term, in a men’s team. And he will learn more in that senior team than what he will playing in an Under 16 or 17 term. I’ve seen boys selected in these squads, that Stingrays or whatever, come back and play senior footy in the country. And they are good, if they were to learn. And then it’s much easier in selection. The AFL clubs come along. ‘Oh, this boy’s playing senior men’s football. Let’s give him a go.’
Jack: And you think that would help transition from an 18-year-old playing against 18-year-old boys?
Don: Oh, no, because you’ve got to move quicker. Everything’s got to be done a little bit quicker. Even the step from, I’d just say, you’re playing AFL football or VFL in my day, then you go and play state football. The tempo would up a little bit more from ordinary Home and Away games where the competition was pretty stiff amongst it. But then you’re playing against the elite, in the state football, where the tempo’s just increased, took another level.
And so, if you go back and you’re playing against them, you’ve got to increase, you’ve got to get rid of the ball quicker. You’ve got to be a little bit stronger. You’ve got to do everything just that little bit quicker. And so, that’s what I’m talking about, adjusting. Get a go there, come back, go again, see what happens.
Jack: That’s great. Good philosophy and really important for those listening in. The mental game. Like you talked about, get exposed, be stretched and be challenged, but then also the importance of having confidence as well. So, you might bring the horse back or the athlete back, get their confidence back up. It’s a process.
Don: In my case, I didn’t realize. And I was only 17, at my 17th birthday, the reserve grade coach Marie Considine, who coached me. I was a boy of 18 and I got into the seconds of Hawthorn. My first game was against Collingwood at Victoria Park. As an 18-year-old boy, straight out of school, never played against men.
And I was playing against a man called Ray Gambler, who’d played a lot of games and was a monster. He had to be 17 stone and I’m 13 and a half stone in the rough. Now he played with me. It was just like, he played me. And I didn’t understand. And I realized I’d played badly, but accept the fact that I’d have to go back into the Under 19s the following week.
But, the coach told me that, unbeknownst to me, my father had run the football club and said, ‘That boy is not allowed to play in the seconds again for the rest of the year.’ Now, he didn’t tell me this. And I went back to the Under 19s and I was doing pretty well. But the boys were being elevated from the Under 19s into the seconds, and I couldn’t understand why. I was always asked, ‘Ring your father up, so he could let you play in the seconds.’ Couldn’t understand why. So, I played Under 19s for one year. I didn’t play against men, but the following year I made the seniors.
Jack: From Under 19s, missed the seconds and went straight to the seniors?
Don: Yeah. So, when you’re physically capable of doing it, and some people are like that.
Jack: But that game where you did play against someone who was a man, and you were still a developing boy. Did you think you needed that experience? Like the woman that gave you that strong feedback, did you need it?
Don: I suppose, yes, I did. It showed me what I had to do if I was going to come up against men.
Jack: A wake-up call.
Don: Yeah. And they were mature, I was only 18, 19. I was nowhere near as strong as what those fellows were. It did make me go back and work harder. I wanted to do a journey.
Jack: It’s a good story. It can’t be easy early on, but you want to have big challenges.
Don: You’ve got to set steps. I also believe that you’ve got to set challenges for yourself that are attainable. It’s all very well aiming for the top, but to get there, there’s got to be steps. Don’t set ambitious steps, set targets or challenges or steps that you can achieve. And just keep working on that to get to the ultimate goal.
Jack: Yeah, get to the goal. Small goals are moving the line. And for those listening in, how would you set those? Do you write them down?
Don: No, I just keep it in my mind. I know exactly what I want. I’m not a person to sit down in the book and write things down, but I know exactly what I’m working on.
Jack: And then you mentioned that you’ve got into the Hawthorn team. At that time, how was the team going from performance point of view?
Don: We were on the bottom. I remember our last game, one game, first or second year. We were fighting Fitzroy for the bottom position on the ladder. We’ve done it. And we finished second last. So, I started in a team that was not the best and I think four or five years later we won a premiership.
And all teams, all good teams had an influx of good recruits. Now, we had a backbone of fellows that had suffered disappointment. And so, you get very hardened, and you become contemptuous of the opposition. When you continually lose and you just get a hard edge. Back in those days we had zones, and we were fortunate enough to get an influx of about five players. Young boys that were the icing on the cake.
So, you’ve got this hardness underneath. And you’ve got this youthful enthusiasm of young boys coming into the team. And it happened in about 1969–1970, even some were introduced in 1971, because we had a zone and we worked the zone. Just like I told you about, we’d bring boys up. They’d play in the Under 19s, from the local country team, and you go into the seconds and you see what you’ve got.
And we had a zone there, so Mornington Peninsula and Gippsland were the Hawthorm zone. So, you worked the zone and that’s how Hawthorn did it. And those boys, they accepted the opportunity, they went on in 1971. We won 19 games from a very ordinary team.
Jack: Because you pushed from the bottom and moved forward.
Don: We didn’t flip, we finished outside of what was called the fork, sixth or seventh. And the following year, we won 19 Home and Away games. Plus the games we played in the state and over in Perth. And I think we won about 25 games. Might’ve lost two for the season.
Jack: That’s incredible. What a turnaround. You talked about the hardness from the team from going through those experiences, and then the talent. So, the hardness was the most important element, that’s like the foundation?
Don: You need a combination of both. You need the flare, but you need the harness. So, the old guys kept the young ones in line, didn’t let them get above themselves because they were very, very good. Now, what you’d find in a lot of cases, it goes to the boys’ heads. You get exposure, you come down and all of a sudden you’re a star. Well, you’ve got to keep your feet on the ground.
The old boys have been through it and knocked the edges off them. And if you were getting out of line and a little bit ahead of yourself, you were pulled back into line. And so, that was that. And so much so, that the 71 team, the following year, they didn’t make the finals. And a number of those players, they were all boys, played in the reserve for premiership.
So, it’s an interesting lesson that you can get yourself up. It’s always been an interesting lesson to me. If you really want to achieve, especially in the game of football, which I played, you can achieve it if you really, really want it. Because they were not the most talented team and they couldn’t make the finals the following year.
Jack: It’s incredible. And what was John Kennedy like as a coach?
Don: He was very basic. But his philosophy didn’t change from when we were on the bottom to when we were a senior team right through. So, it really does come back to the players you’ve got. All coaches say the same thing, unless you’re not a creditable coach in your philosophy or it doesn’t make sense, you have got to have the players. You’ve got to have the talent. And that comes back to the players. So, the coaches are very, very dependent on the talent that they’ve got.
Jack: And you mentioned that want and desire to be successful. Did you guys do anything different in the off-season, pre-season as a playing group?
Don: Back then, you had to appreciate what Melbourne was like. It was a very insular place, Melbourne. I lived in the Eastern suburbs. I knew everything about the Eastern suburbs into the city because I’ve traveled to work. But I knew nothing about the Southern suburbs, Brighton, I’d get lost. And I still get lost down there. I don’t know anything about my little area.
And so, when we played against other teams in the VFL, as a learned academic said to me, it was like we were going to war every Saturday. So, when you go to war every Saturday, it’s them against us. And so, your comradery is built up amongst your teammates. Away from playing football, we’d mix socially. So, you build up a comradery as well as having this football ability. And each team was basically the same. We never mixed or talked with other teams. We stayed in ours. This was very insular.
Jack: Yes. And that helped drive, so the social element’s really important for the season?
Don: Well, I think so. I see, quite amazingly now, guys coming off the ground they’re all having a chat to the opposition. Maybe they played together in the Under 18s somewhere, or they’ve been at that club, and they all have a hug and a kiss. Geez, we never did that. It was war when we went out. You’re going out there to basically hurt somebody, whether it’d be physically or not. And so, it’s very hard to do that if you’re friendly with somebody. But this is what it was like, and that’s the way society was.
Jack: And then you were a leader in your playing career as well. Was that something that you worked towards? You talked about your mindset with things that you were focusing on and how you would get better in that space. Or did it come to you, like the players voted you as captain?
Don: No, players never voted me as captain. That decision was made by the committee of the football club. And no, players never voted on that. The administration voted the captain.
Jack: And why do you think they selected yourself?
Don: I think it was just because I was the oldest player. I’ve come through the system and I was vice-captain. And as time rolled I finished up being the oldest. That’s how it was passed on, I think.
Jack: And then for captains that you’d had in previous years, whether you were supporting them as vice-captain or before being a vice-captain, what do you think successful leadership is about for team success?
Don: Well, it depends on the area you’re in, whether it’d be football or business, or whatever. I think you’ve got to have credibility. I think you’ve really got to have credibility. And each role in leadership is different depending on the sphere that you’re in. And just to say this is the way leaders should be, I don’t think that’s the case. Different things for different situations.
Maybe a classic, and I don’t know too much about history, but it fascinated me. That’s for example, Winston Churchill was a leader as the prime minister of England through the Second World War. Now, I don’t know how good a leader he was, but he was certainly inspirational the way he spoke to the English population when they were facing the German army and being invaded. As soon as the war was over, and he took over as prime minister. That fascinates me. So, from that I think different leaders for different situations.
Jack: And when you were appointed captain, did you lean on mentors on how to take on that role? Or did you just go your own way?
Don: No, I just did my own thing. And I think you mightn’t be a leader. You be yourself, and you mightn’t measure up. Well, you’re not a leader. And I think a lot of people, whatever the job may be, whether you’re in media or whether you’re in your own job, you be yourself. And if you’re not good enough, go find something you’re good enough at and pursue that. Don’t try and achieve something you’re not. And don’t try and be somebody else that you’re not. You’re not true to yourself.
Jack: And then feedback, like you mentioned, how you would take on feedback as it was constructive and then you would use that from people that you respected to get better. How would you give feedback to players that were looking up to you and that sort of thing?
Don: I think in my case, well, if you’re talking about football, for football I trained hard, harder than anyone else. I tried to cover all aspects. And I wasn’t the best at everything, like endurance, running, sprinting. But I was certainly up in the top group. Strength wise, I did all of that stuff and I really did work on my skill.
So, I believe in that way you set the example for the others. I’m not one to sit down and talk and encourage. Because I think, once you’ve got to start and talk and encourage people, you’ve got a weakness in their character, anyway. In a game of football, you’ve got to win your stripes in a football team as I had to, and you’ve got to be accepted by the group.
That’s only done by your performances and you as an individual have got to come to terms with it yourself. Then you’re accepted by the group and you’re accepted by playing games regularly and whatever else. But it’s a unique thing, unless you’ve experienced it, but there is a kind of alienation by the group until you prove yourself to the group, then they accept you. And that initiation is then passed on. It was certainly in my time.
Jack: That makes a lot of sense. And like you said, that’s what builds credibility, isn’t it? The fact that you will lead by example. What about in terms of team success? When could you get a sense that you were going to win a premiership that year?
Don: We couldn’t win. Now, you only look to the following week. That’s the way I was brought up. It was interesting, when Allan James came to the club and he said, ‘Oh, we’ve got to win 13 games.’ I just couldn’t relate to that. ‘13 games will get us into the finals.’ ‘We’re going to lose this game,’ or ‘I think we can win these games.’
Whereas prior to that, 15 or 16 or whatever period it was, we just looked at the next week, next week. We won next week, let’s look at the next week. Let’s look at next Tuesday’s training. We’ve got Wednesday night training. Let’s not get above ourselves. We’ve got next week’s game which is on Saturday. That’s what we’re aiming for.
Just look at what you could control, which is this coming week and this game that’s here. Let’s try and win that game. So, that’s the way we’d look at. Just building block on building block and slowly you hope to get to the top.
Jack: Till you’re literally in the week of grand final, you wouldn’t spend too much of your time and energy on?
Don: Not at all. Not at all. Having won and lost grand finals, no, you can’t come stay to the back of the day. That’s a cliché, you’re sore and you don’t know when you’ve won a grand final. In my experience there have been blowouts, but in my experience, there’s never been a blow edge. You don’t know until right at the end.
Jack: And we’ve talked about the physical side in terms of your strength training, your tactical and skill, and craft, speed, endurance, and, obviously, football demands it all. What about the mental side? What type of work would you do to get yourself prepared for a game?
Don: I think, as I mentioned earlier, you condition to those in a bottom team and you become contemptuous of the opposition, because of the fact that they are winning. And then you start to win and start to climb that sand castle when you get to the king of the castle and then they’re coming at you. And I used to love it when you were at the top of the castle and they were coming at you, and you’d build them down again.
Jack: Give it back.
Don: Give it back.
Jack: And ruck was your main position, primary position as a player? Was that your favorite position?
Don: I would have liked to have been a center half-back in an exhibition game. The MCG is a drawn grand final, and I think in 1977 Hawthorn played Richmond in a curtain-raiser. That was, I think, 1977, and I’d played center half-back in that game. And I would’ve liked to play center half-back.
I would’ve liked to play there. It was a very easy position to me, very easy position to play because the ball just comes funneling in. I was tall enough, strong enough and quick enough to play center half-forwards. And I just found that a very easy position to play.
Jack: And that didn’t eventuate because you were so good at ruck?
Don: I wasn’t so good at the ruck, but you get pigeonholed. Occasionally I would go to center half-forward and Alan Martello would go into the ruck from again center half-forward on occasion.
Jack: And what about your biggest challenges as a player? And what did you learn from them?
Don: Biggest challenges as a player? Well, when you’re not gifted and you’re working all the time, everything’s a challenge. To me, I didn’t see any funny side of football. There was nothing humorous about football at all. I certainly steeled myself for every game that I played because I had to perform. And I didn’t find them very enjoyable at all. You probably look back and the only thing you look at now is your achievements. And we did achieve, so that’s all I get satisfaction out of is that we did achieve. And so, that’s what I take out of it.
Jack: So, there were always challenges in front of you. There’s not one that stands out and you just constantly worked on getting better? And as long as you were getting success, then you just stayed on that path?
Don: Yes, but you’ll tweak, you’re a tweaker. You might be having success, but how can I do this better? What can I do? So, you’re constantly analyzing and looking.
Jack: And as an individual, you’ve had a lot of accolades with awards and then also team success. What would be your main highlight, when you look back at your career?
Don: See, this is where we’re wrong with regard that it’s not an individual sport, football, and I’d never subscribed to individual success. The media or the club they have Best and Fairest and all that. You’re starting to break the team, the self-standard culture down. It’s what the team does achieve. And to share that with a group of fellows and to achieve, there is, I can tell you, there’s just brutal honesty amongst the group. Real brutal honesty that we can take out.
We don’t see one another for a period of time. The only common factor is we were good at football or this particular sport. We come from diverse lives and in our life outside of football we’re all different. But when we get together, especially the successful teams, not the ones that weren’t successful, but there is real, real honesty. And we just take off and it’s closer than family in a lot of cases.
Jack: With winning premierships as a team.
Don: Winning premierships, to achieve that, it’s got to be a real basic honesty amongst the group. And you’ve got to take what they tell you. It’s not nice laying that out on the ground if you do. And we’re playing for sheep stations. And so, it’s pretty brutal what’s said amongst the group, and you’ve got to take it. If you were wrong and you get a serve from your teammate, not the coach, the teammate, you’ve got to take it and you get on with it.
Jack: And do you guys as team with premierships catch up regularly?
Don: We do all the time. And it’s amazing as we’re getting older here how much closer we get. Especially the guys that I played with, we do talk and it’s an amazing comradery we’ve got.
Jack: And then you took on coaching post-career, what was the focus with that? Was that something you wanted to buy around with and try? Take us through your mindset.
Don: That’s an interesting one. I went to Adelaide. I was doing commentary and whatever else, I suppose it was an egotistical thingy.
Jack: And you had some, obviously, great coaches, David Parkin and others.
Don: Yeah. I was pretty hard to footballers, very seriously. Then I can see the mistakes I made when I went coaching. But I wouldn’t do any differently because that’s just me. I suppose, the most satisfying thing I got when I did go coaching was coaching Sorrento Under 18s.
As a man or a mentor said to me, ‘It’s all very well playing your professional sport, which was football, where you’re receiving money and whatever else for it. It’s a business. But go back to what football is really about. And it’s out in the suburbs.’ And the most satisfaction I got was when I went and coached the Sorrento Under 18s. For the first time in my life, I’d given back to football.
Jack: And why Sorrento?
Don: I lived down there. And they didn’t have a third, an Under 18 team. They had a seniors and a reserved team, but they were forfeiting every week, not being able to put a thirds together. My son happened to be at that age coming through. So, I got involved and that was probably the most satisfying two years. The most satisfying thing in football is that I gave back to football.
Jack: And you talked about that earlier in the podcast, how passionate you are about that age. It was a critical age for yourself as a footballer. With those memories and doing that for two years, why did you stop? Is it something that you felt like you’ve given back now?
Don: You have a limited time and, in my case, we played in a grand final in our second year, we missed out. We came from absolutely nowhere, there wasn’t a team two years prior and in the second year they played in a grand final. And that team happened to be the backbone of Sorrento success five years later in the seniors. And so, give somebody else the change. The philosophy was set as to how we structure this and then somebody else can take over and do it.
Jack: And you talked about business and your involvement from 22. You were instrumental in the preventing Hawthorn for merging with Melbourne in the mid 90s. Why did you take on that role and talk us through that campaign?
Don: Well, the reason I took it on was I used to commentate for Channel Seven. I used to do special comments and prior to a game I would bring their particular clubs that I was commentating on for that week and find out a little bit of information about the players.
And I remember talking to Graeme Allan, ‘Gubby’ Allan. Collingwood had a game that week. And he just mentioned something about Hawthorn merging. There was some talk, it was just a bit of a whisper in football circles. It wasn’t out there.
And then, on the Sunday it just happened to be that all premiership players that had ever played for Hawthorn had a photograph taken wearing white shirts, every player that have played in a premiership team. That was a huge photograph. And it was a bit of an article about the third page, a little paragraph about Hawthorn or a merge or something.
And from there, I remember I met Porter, he was my teammate in 1971, and he said, ‘Geez, I think they’re going to merge.’ And from that, it just started to roll. And I felt a little insulted that I wasn’t given the opportunity to say, ‘Hey, Hawthorn, we’re in trouble as a team, financially we’re cash broke, we’re not profitable.’ And I wasn’t given that opportunity to say, ‘Yes, I’d like to help.’ And I was like one of 9,000–10,000 members who weren’t consulted.
The various committees or the administrations were doing a deal without thinking of the members. They are not the football club. The members are the football club, and I just felt that. And so, whether we won or lost the merge, what we tried to do was that people were given the opportunity.
And it was structured in such a way that if you wish to put money in and the campaign wasn’t successful, it was, ‘Guilty. You would get your money back.’ So, if you put your 100 dollars in, your name was taken on and whatever else, and if we weren’t successful, that money would go back to you. It wouldn’t go to a new entity.
Jack: It’s great, really fair.
Don: So I thought. And so, the people were given that opportunity and we raised a million dollars in how many weeks to stave off the merger.
Jack: That’s inspiring story. It’s almost like you became, that’s real leadership.
Don: I don’t think it’s real leadership. You’re dealing with emotion. All that had to be, you just had to set a very simple thing. There was a simplicity of it. They need money. That’s the bottom line. They need money. And we’re going to give you a program where you donate, and if it’s not successful, the money goes back. So, you’ve got your opportunity. I don’t care whether the place exists or not, it’s no skin off my nose, but you are given an opportunity to save your football club if you wish to. And so, it was very simple to me. And you’re riding on emotion.
Jack: These ideas and putting together this campaign, where you working solely with yourself, or did you have a bit of a team?
Don: No, certainly I had a team. My experience was in the media. I had exposure through the media. I was working at Channel Seven and other things. And so, when you have that side of it worked and what happened behind the scenes and how they played the game, the AFL played the game and who they aligned. You wouldn’t get favourable reports from some people, yet you would the others. Just the conspiracy behind the whole thing. So, you knew how that worked.
Then there was the administrative side that was delegated here. The four people that were consulted, that I walked to. And I did my thing, they did their thing. And I had another fellow Leon Rice who I played with, he is the exact opposite to me. So, when I would express a view, he put a view, if we got halfway, that was the right way to go. So, it wasn’t my view, if that makes sense. It was a compromise.
Jack: And the players, like Doe Rone got involved. How much support did you get from the players?
Don: Well, we went to ex-players because football clubs demand the emotional involvement, administrators are not as invested as footballers are. When we play, when you play in a team, you’ve got to give emotionally. And so, it was basically made up of ex-players because of the fact that that’s what was required.
People don’t understand when players leave a club, I don’t think so now, because they seem to just transfer and go wherever. They don’t seem to have that emotional attachment. They certainly did back then.
And so, these people and they were all basically ex-players were the catalyst, well, not the catalyst, they were there, but they were looking after the main roles: PR, administration and whatever else. And then supporters came in and helped. We had a workforce.
Jack: And that media side, your work with Channel Seven commentary, how did that come about? Was it just that you got some opportunities, obviously, rose to those opportunities and it just built up momentum? Or was it something you were intending on doing?
Don: I suppose when you come out, just like any other player, as soon as a player with, I don’t know, an image or reputation or whatever else, comes out, if you come out of the retire at the right time and there’s nobody of comparable or statue or whatever else, you’re given that chance. It just keeps on rolling. It’s happening in the media. Constantly new players coming out, everybody wants to go out at the other end of the media. And everybody has a use-by date in the media, constantly being replaced.
So, I got an opportunity and Christopher Skase back in that heady days of the 80s, where companies were going berserk in Australia, taking and acquiring, Skase acquired Channel Seven. They got the football back, I think, from either the ABC or Channel 10, somebody, and he launched huge. And then the football started to go national. And so, there were about eight commentators which would just fly around Australia, commentating the games. Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne. So, that was in the 80s.
Jack: Awesome. Well, we’ll go to the personal side of the podcast, a bit of a get-to-know-Don-Scott-as-a-person-rather-than-the-professional-ADF-footballer-horse-lover. So, what’s your favorite life motto and/or motivational quote?
Don: I’m not into anything, nothing along that line inspires me. I wake up tomorrow and I look forward to that day. I don’t always plan ahead of what I’m doing. I’m training horses show jumping. So, I’m looking at the show that’s coming up in a month’s time. I’ve got to get horses ride for that. I don’t look at what happened yesterday.
Do what you’ve got to do today. If you’re doing something now, do it to the best of your ability, so you don’t have to go back and correct those faults. But you look ahead to what’s happening, don’t look back.
Jack: And what about movie, book or TV series that has impacted you the most?
Don: Well, there’s one film that I found fascinating, and I don’t mind admitting it. It’s one with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere where she plays the prostitute. What was it?
Jack: We’ll add it in the show notes.
Don: There you go. I don’t know the title, but every time that comes on, that gives me… The businessman who takes on the prostitute, needs a girl to go out for the day. I forget the name of it. But there is a trashy film boy.
Jack: And what makes you angry? What are your pet peeves from a professional point of view?
Don: I don’t have many because I don’t really get close to too many people. I have high expectations of myself and I find it very frustrating when people don’t live up. Maybe that’s a fault of mine that I set goals that I consider. Maybe I’m hard on myself, but if people don’t measure up, I just can’t be bothered with them. So, I don’t really associate with too many people.
Jack: So, basically, you’ve got your standards and things that you’re focusing on and people can come along for the ride or they can do as they do.
Don: Yeah. Not too many people come along for the ride, let me tell you.
Jack: That’s why you love horses.
Don: What you can give, you can give to young children under the age of five and you can give to animals, and they give you back unconditionally. Because if you are cruel with an animal, especially a horse or any animal, they will not respond, my friend, let me tell you. And what you see in young kids, they sum you up very, very quickly.
Jack: What about, these two are COVID-free world’s, your favorite way to spend a day off? What do you like to do?
Don: Oh, I don’t have a day off. I just don’t. I do something every day. I don’t know, I’m just busy.
Jack: But what would be your favorite way to spend a day?
Don: I can get pleasure right out of, I’ve just put in the beehive at home. Now I will go and stand there for half an hour. And I’m just fascinated with these bees coming in. I’ve seen them come, how they come out scouting, they have hierarchy, how they don’t crash. They just fascinate me. I’m fascinated and interested in anything. I haven’t got to go down to the beach for the day. I just work.
Jack: And what about where would you like to go for a holiday in the world?
Don: I think I’ve just about done it all, I was fascinated with Europe. I’ve done Europe. America’s like Australia, it’s got natural history. But I was fascinated and still am about the history of people who’ve gone before us, and especially in Europe. And it just never ceases to amaze me what people have achieved and we don’t give them credit for what they’ve achieved in the past.
Jack: That’s great. You’ve lived a full life. It’s been great to have you on the podcast and share your journey and your story and philosophy for life from whether it’d be performance in media, athletic pursuits with football, business, whatever it is. No doubt, I’ve taken a lot from it, as well as the listeners and those watching the live chat. What’s on the horizon for you? What are you excited about for the rest of 2021?
Don: I’ve got two horses at home. I hope we can get out from COVID and start to compete. They look like they’re going all right.
Jack: So, where’s the next competition?
Don: I don’t know. I don’t know how they are going to open. There are shows planned, but whether we can do it is another thing. Up in the air as everybody. You’ve got to be double vaxed and whatever else.
You know what we’ve gone through. I think we’ll look back in this in the years to come and say, ‘How the hell did we ever get through this?’ I just cannot believe what Melbourne has gone through and we’ve experienced. Yet, we’ve been numbed to it. This is the scary thing that we have been numbed into what we have experienced. But we can only blame ourselves because we have, in a lot of cases, voted these people in.
Jack: It’s a crazy time and whenever it’s time that we’re looking back and sharing the stories, we’ll be pinching ourselves of what we’ve coped with. Well, thanks, Don. It was great to have you on.
Don: Thank you very much.
Jack: And what’s going on with ‘You Cannot Be Serious’ podcast as well? For those that are interested, who are your next guests?
Don: Oh, it’s two old blokes talking shit. And I follow Sam Newman. He’s the controller. He’s a narcissist. And so, I just know my right.
Jack: Very good.
Don: Thanks, Jack.
Jack: Thanks, Don.
Thank you for listening to the ‘Prepare Like A Pro’ podcast. If you liked this episode, it’d be a massive help, if you could like, follow, rate, give a review or even share with your mates. The show is recorded in Melbourne, Australia. Be sure to follow our Instagram page for all updates on our latest and greatest. If you would like to get in touch to suggest a guest or advertise with the ‘Prepare Like A Pro’ podcast, please email me at email@example.com. Thanks so much for tuning in.
The 18-year-old is a medium defender/winger with a dazzling left foot who enjoys taking the game on with his mastery of pace and speed. Fahey has been in the Giants’ system since he was a kid, and getting selected up by them is a dream come true for him. Before the draft, he met with Leon Cameron, who informed him that he was in the club’s plans, and he’s trained with the club in Sydney a few times over the last two years. He “liked every second of it,” as one might expect.
“It seems like home,” Fahey remarked, “and there’s no else I’d rather be than here.”
Fahey, a high talent from outside the AFL heartland, played for the AFL Academy against the Geelong VFL team in April, collecting the MCC President’s medal for best on the ground; played five games for the Giants’ VFL side; and, of course, wore the yellow and black for his Queanbeyan Tigers. He appreciates everything the Tigers have done to assist him in making the AFL list after coming through the Tigers program.
“They’ve done a lot for me during my career and are probably the main reason I’m where I am now,” Fahey said.
Growing up in Canberra’s rugby league heartland and playing for Queanbeyan, Fahey’s path to the AFL big time was everything but smooth. After his father transferred to the Gold Coast for employment in January of last year, he took a three-month break and played two games for the Suns Academy. After that time, it was unclear if Fahey would still be considered a Giants Academy player for AFL draft purposes when he returned to Canberra.
Before he sealed his credentials with a best-on-ground effort in a losing cause for the AFL Academy against Geelong’s VFL club, league officials signed off on his eligibility.
Fahey is a high-achieving junior who embodies the progress junior football has made in the ten years since the Giants Academy was founded. Despite this, Fahey believes it is still more difficult to break into the AFL from Canberra than it is from the footy-heavy states south of the Barassi-line.
“You don’t get noticed as much,” he stated, “but some people don’t get the same opportunity as others in larger states, so it’s quite humbling to be able to receive this opportunity.”
“There’s a lot of strong talent going through the Academy in Canberra and the Riverina area, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw a lot more draftees come out of the area.”
And now that his number has been summoned, the sprightly rebounding defender should expect things to go swiftly. His goal for pre-season is to put in a good chunk of work in preparation for his AFL debut next season.
“Hopefully next year I have the opportunity,” he said. “It would be fantastic to debut here in front of my local audience and family.”
Nick Daicos is one of the most well-known prospective AFL players in the 2021 draft. The son of legendary Magpies ace Peter and brother of Collingwood star Josh, Nick is one of Prepare Like A Pro’s esteemed national ambassadors.
Daicos is undoubtedly one of the most well-known draftees in football history, given his popularity on social media and heightened focus on the talent pipeline. Daicos, potentially the league’s first father-son selection ever, has already signed a four-year contract, has an endorsement deal with Nike, has over 50,000 Instagram followers, is known by a moniker “Whisper” (his social media account username), is stopped for pictures on the street frequently draws hundreds of supporters to his NAB games. Add to that he’s going to one of the country’s biggest clubs, which just had its worst season in more than two decades, and the attention on Daicos is entirely understandable.
This is Nick Daicos, a basketball-smitten, Fortnite-playing youngster navigating COVID-19 challenges during the most crucial year of his young career. All while being the white hope for Collingwood, a classy midfielder with pinpoint finesse, an incredible work ethic, a thirst for the ball, a star mentality, and a talent for the goal that is in his genes.
The elder Daicos is still remembered as a Pies hero, a 250-game standout who scored 549 goals and led them to their first-ever premiership in 1990. Daicos was known as the ‘Macedonian Marvel’ for his incredible goal-scoring feats and football prowess. The 60-year-old, who deals in real estate development, is now a proud father.
“When I was younger, I’d search him up on YouTube and have a look at a few of his goals,” Nick said in an interview with AFL’s website. “He’s the last person who would say, ‘Hey, look at this clip of me!’, but we are all so proud of dad.”
Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley said Daicos would have been selected for round one if he had been on the list after working with the Pies twice a week as part of the club’s father-son program in February.
“There’s no disputing his absolute talent. He already looks strong, quick, low to the ground – the Daicos trait. Very powerful. Left foot, right foot. Talent-wise there’s no question. Effort, attitude-wise he looks really good,” Buckley said.
All father-son possibilities pique interest, but when you combine Collingwood’s troubles and Daicos’ form in 2021, he becomes a national figure. However, as the year progressed, Daicos was undecided about nominating for the Pies or joining the open draft. In February, Daicos, his parents, and D’Orazio met with Collingwood football manager Graham Wright, who explicitly confirmed the club’s intention of signing him.
“At the moment, I’m up for grabs for anyone. I’m so driven by team success. I want to win two, three, or four flags. That’s my aim. I feel like I’ve got to make the decision that’s right for me, I don’t feel pressure to nominate as a father-son. I’ve worked hard to get into this position and hopefully, it pans out that I do get to Collingwood and I’m really liking the club. But I’m stuck in the middle and not sure what I’ll do or where I’ll go,” said the younger Daicos.
He also confirmed his desire to play with his brother and be recognized as the top draft pick.
“The pro is I’d love to play with Josh. To play with your brother at the highest level would be a dream come true. That’s the main thing for me to go there. Against would probably be that I really want to be the No.1 draft pick. That’s my aim but if I’m a father-son it could stop that. A lot of people will say, ‘It’s just a pick’ which is definitely fair enough but it’s also a really good representation of the hard work that’s been put in.”
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