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.
AFL players know that performance recovery is a key factor in success. But it’s not always easy to achieve in the midst of a grueling schedule. That’s why we want to help equip players with the tools needed for effective recovery.
Our presentation will focus on the physical and mental demands of AFL, and how to best manage them for successful recoveries. We’ll be covering topics such as measuring what you want to improve, coping strategies for mental and emotional stress, measuring your HRV, meditation techniques and active recovery methods.
We don’t just want to give you a few tips – we’re going to arm you with valuable knowledge so you can stay ahead of the game when it comes to performance recovery. So, get ready for an engaging and witty presentation that will help you tackle the physical and mental demands of AFL like never before!
Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to supercharge your recovery capability – join us today!
Paul Roos (Roosy) is one of Australia’s most respected footballers. A two-time Australian captain, Roos played 356 games and was inducted into the AFL Hall Of Fame in 2005. That same year he coached Sydney Swans to a premiership. Roosy has also worked as head of the academy at Sydney, head coach in Melbourne, and is currently consulting at North Melbourne Football Club.
Highlights of the episode:
Importance of finding your leadership style
Why self-awareness and communication are critical skills for leaders
What is Performance by Design
Importance of creating a safe environment for open and honest conversations
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.