Brodie Grundy knows what success looks like. He gets the image in his head.
He can picture success, and he can put words to it. The choice of words shapes your thinking, he says. He ruminates over the language of success, so he thinks not of if, but of when Collingwood play finals. It’s not if I play well, it’s when I play well.
It’s a lesson in the mental approach to sport and winning that he took from his basketball idol Kobe Bryant.
"The belief that the group has is really strong. Visualisation is a really important part of that for me, so that's how I go about it – believing that it's possible and then chasing it," he said on Monday.
"It's more the positive self-talk and getting the language right. It's not if we make finals, it's when we make finals. That's the narrative that I spin in my head and it helps me play good footy."
"It's a bit of positive reinforcement and visualisation of achieving those things. A lot of the role models I look up to talk about that, the elite performers like Kobe Bryant, who I've looked up to as a young player.”
That choice to use positive language in his own inner dialogue has helped him become All-Australian.
The 24-year-old was last week given that honourfor the first time. He was named on the bench behind Max Gawn who was chosen as the nominal starting first ruck. It might be an honorary team that plays no one, but Grundy now considers it the next step to be named first ruck.
"I think the beauty of this environment is we've got some players who have been high performers – 'Pendles', the coach himself – so I just spoke to him about the [All-Australian] being a long-term goal of mine for a number of years," he said.
"To get there in the end was great and to get that validation. The person I am, I'm very competitive, and I see that as the start for me. If I can add one or two more before my career's done, and hopefully a premiership to finish off the year it'd be really nice.
"We just spoke about how it's not particularly the destination it's more the journey, and the journey over the last few years has been really exciting."
Gawn had the most hitouts in the AFL this year with Grundy next. But the Collingwood ruckman also operates as a second midfielder, excelling at follow-up work at ground level for clearances and being a hard-running player who pushes forward.
Against West Coast with the two tall forwards - Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling - and with Collingwood key defenders injured, he knows that he will also be needed to run deep behind the ball to help out his defenders.
“I definitely will need to. You mention Max Gawn and that’s what he definitely does, he pushes behind the play and ... we have seen teams require that from their ruckman and I would say that definitely that would be something the team will require of me or Mason (Cox).”
Michael Gleeson is a senior AFL football writer and Fairfax Media's athletics writer. He also covers tennis, cricket and other sports. He won the AFL Players Association Grant Hattam Trophy for excellence in journalism for the second time in 2014 and was a finalist in the 2014 Quill Awards for best sports feature writer. He was also a finalist in the 2014 Australian Sports Commission awards for his work on ‘Boots for Kids’. He is a winner of the AFL Media Association award for best news reporter and a two-time winner of Cricket Victoria’s cricket writer of the year award. Michael has covered multiple Olympics, Commonwealth Games and world championships and 15 seasons of AFL, He has also written seven books - five sports books and two true crime books.