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  1. #1
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    The gruelling summer program that helped Bailey Williams become AFLís most improved player

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    When Bailey Williams strolled into day one of pre-season training last November with a Western Bulldogs-branded backpack over his right shoulder, he looked like a new man.

    According to assistant coach Rohan Smith, he was leaner, stronger and more confident than the player who had managed just nine senior games in 2019.

    Having been named an emergency a further nine times, it’s little wonder the 41-gamer was tired of feeling like a loose screw in Luke Beveridge’s plans.


    It wasn’t until almost two weeks after the club’s elimination final defeat to the Giants – which he missed selection for – that the club announced he’d re-signed until the end of 2021.Jolted by an ordinary year and a nervous post-season wait, the quietly spoken Glenelg product knew he had 24 months to get his career back on track — and he started immediately.

    He returned to Adelaide in the break, enlisted the help of a friend, and pumped weights daily, bulking up almost five kilograms. He also ran more kilometres in six weeks than he had done for the entire previous summer.

    Bailey Williams’ turnaround has been nothing short of remarkable. Picture: Chris Hyde
    Source: Getty Images
    And when he came home to Aberfeldie to prepare for day one of summer training, he kept the pace with housemates Caleb Daniel and Roarke Smith around a nearby park. Not even Daniel’s and Williams’ two rottweilers Barney and Hugo could keep up.

    Just 10 months later, Williams is statistically the most improved player in the AFL. According to Champion Data, he’s 194 per cent more influential than he was in 2019. In simple terms, he’s almost three times the player he used to be.

    He averaged 3.6 Ratings Points per 100 minutes last year. In 2020, this number has skyrocketed to 10.6 per 100 minutes.

    The turnaround has been nothing short of remarkable. And he’s not done yet.

    No wonder mentor, Dogs great and assistant coach Rohan Smith knew he was in for a treat back in November.

    “He’d admit that in previous summers he’d come back a little bit overweight or not ready to start training,” Smith said to foxfooty.com.au this week.

    Bailey Williams’ Bulldogs are pushing for finals. Picture: Michael Klein
    Source: News Corp Australia
    “This year he walked in the door and we were like ‘wow, he’s ready to go’. And he’s reaping the benefits for it.

    “A young player might come out of pre-season and might not know how to push themselves. When he came back to pre-season training he looked like he had done a lot of work before we even started.


    “He’s taken his training to another level.”
    Williams’ numbers reflect a player who finally feels comfortable at the top level.
    He’s the ninth-highest rated general defender in the competition and has launched the equal most goals from his team’s defensive 50 in 2020.

    As far as rebounding defenders go, there are few better. He has the 12th best kick rating for the top 100 players in the AFL and is in the top 10 for metres gained.

    Remember, this time last year he was a fringe player at best. His career didn’t quite hang by a thread, but it wasn’t much thicker than a shoelace either.

    “I’ve had the year that I’ve wanted to have,” Williams said to foxfooty.com.au ahead of Friday night’s crunch clash against Geelong.


    “I had one of the best pre-seasons I’ve had since I’ve been here. Last year was a difficult year for myself. It is always difficult when you’re not in the ‘ones’ and not playing the footy you want to play. It was a hard year.

    “But I love this club so much and all the boys so I backed myself to make the best 22. That’s why I had the summer I needed to have.

    “I had to work on my endurance and repeat effort. It remains a focus for me. The more I can work on my tank, the better I will be.

    “I have been running the most I ever have. I ran on Christmas Eve and rewarded myself the next day.”

    Bailey Williams of the Bulldogs is in career-best form. Picture: Michael Klein
    Source: News Corp Australia
    Those who know Williams best say he’s quiet, likeable and has a haircut and tattoo that make him a bit of a cult figure behind closed doors.

    Smith notes how the 22-year-old sits discreetly towards the back in meetings, not wanting to draw attention to himself. But more experienced teammates such as Easton Wood and Daniel have been impressed by his increased willingness to deliver verbal instructions on the field this year.


    It’s an element of his game which was effectively non-existent before 2020, illustrating Smith’s point that physical prowess breeds emotional confidence.


    “He’s actually a really quiet kid. But you can see that he’s starting to grow in confidence,” the two-time All-Australian said.

    “He was playing half back-flank over a few years and he was more about the offensive side of the game than the defensive side. He’s got the balance right now.”

    Williams is yet to have a specific role on an opposition forward this year. It’s neither his or Beveridge’s style.

    Bailey Williams of the Bulldogs is crucial to his side’s counter-attack from the back half. Picture: Chris Hyde
    Source: Getty Images
    Having spent no more than 35 minutes on any one opponent, the freedom to intercept and rebound has suited him. Alongside recruit Alex Keath, the Dogs defenders are as agile and flexible as Gillon McLachlan’s oft-repeated edict. And Williams is the poster boy for it.

    He also possesses a boyish innocence, noting how he enjoys golf in the hub but “is terrible at it.”

    Just 54 games into his career, he still has to pinch himself when he comes up against childhood hero Gary Ablett and other Geelong stars.

    He’s a Dog through and through now, but growing up he had a soft spot for the Cats and Crows, courtesy of his grandfather’s allegiance and his location.


    Williams added: “Two years ago I played midfield against Geelong. That was a surreal experience coming up against Joel Selwood, Patrick Dangerfield and Ablett. It was amazing.”


    On Friday night, he won’t come face-to-face with Ablett or Selwood, but he’s certain to cross paths with Dangerfield and an in-form Tom Hawkins.

    As a teenager, he once amassed 56 disposals in a 91-point loss. He was selected with Pick 48 in the 2015 National Draft just three months later.


    Hollywood handball slammed
    0:48
    It says a bit about Williams’ under the radar personality that it’s taken some time for him to receive the accolades the numbers, his teammates and coaches maintain he richly deserves, not that a lack of external praise concerns him.

    “I just enjoy going about my business,” he said.

    “I was so oblivious when I got drafted. This year has made me realise just how much time and effort you need to put in. It’s a full-time job and if you want to be any good you have to be in the club all the time with meetings, recovery and training.

    “I had a goal at the start of the year that I wanted to play every game.
    “I guess it is so far, so good.”
    Last edited by bornadog; 28-08-2020 at 03:25 PM.
    Premierships: AFL 1954, 2016 VFA - 1898,99,1900, 1908, 1913, 1919-20, 1923-24, VFL: 2014, 2016 . Champions of Victoria 1924. AFLW - 2018.

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  3. #2
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    Re: The gruelling summer program that helped Bailey Williams become AFLís most improved player

    Isn't it great when a player with natural ability and gifts realises they actually need to put the hard yards in?

    My favourite part of the article.

    He returned to Adelaide in the break, enlisted the help of a friend, and pumped weights daily, bulking up almost five kilograms. He also ran more kilometres in six weeks than he had done for the entire previous summer.

    Do you reckon his mate is a bit flat he didn't at least get a first name shout out?
    They come after one,
    They come after all,
    They can't handle all,
    Lets go....

    Bob Murphy

  4. #3
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    Re: The gruelling summer program that helped Bailey Williams become AFLís most improved player

    Real credit to Williams for working hard and cementing his spot.

    I think we really have an exciting bunch of players all under 25 years of age, meaning there are plenty of years ahead to enjoy watching them grow.
    Premierships: AFL 1954, 2016 VFA - 1898,99,1900, 1908, 1913, 1919-20, 1923-24, VFL: 2014, 2016 . Champions of Victoria 1924. AFLW - 2018.

  5. #4
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    Re: The gruelling summer program that helped Bailey Williams become AFLís most improved player

    Bailey well earned accolade. You worked for it and got the rewards.

  6. #5
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    Re: The gruelling summer program that helped Bailey Williams become AFLís most improved player

    Been superb
    Always had the ability

  7. #6
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    Re: The gruelling summer program that helped Bailey Williams become AFLís most improved player

    Quote Originally Posted by azabob View Post
    Isn't it great when a player with natural ability and gifts realises they actually need to put the hard yards
    Read my mind! So great to see the switch has flicked and he knows what it takes. He is a supreme natural talent

  8. #7
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    Re: The gruelling summer program that helped Bailey Williams become AFLís most improved player

    Great piece.

    There is no substitute for hard work at the elite level no matter how talented you are. Compounding fitness and multiple big pre-seasons can take him to another level again.

  9. #8
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    Re: The gruelling summer program that helped Bailey Williams become AFLís most improved player

    Quote Originally Posted by angelopetraglia View Post
    Great piece.

    There is no substitute for hard work at the elite level no matter how talented you are. Compounding fitness and multiple big pre-seasons can take him to another level again.
    Bruce needs to get cracking for 2021
    Premierships: AFL 1954, 2016 VFA - 1898,99,1900, 1908, 1913, 1919-20, 1923-24, VFL: 2014, 2016 . Champions of Victoria 1924. AFLW - 2018.

  10. #9
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    Re: The gruelling summer program that helped Bailey Williams become AFLís most improved player

    Quote Originally Posted by bornadog View Post
    Bruce needs to get cracking for 2021
    What's his incentive for next season that he didn't already have for this season?
    Start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone.
    Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often. But if take you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up ó if you do these things, then the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today.
    And what started here will indeed have changed the world ó for the better.

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  12. #10
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    Re: The gruelling summer program that helped Bailey Williams become AFLís most improved player

    Quote Originally Posted by GVGjr View Post
    What's his incentive for next season that he didn't already have for this season?
    Yep. Just said something similar in response to your post in another thread.
    They come after one,
    They come after all,
    They can't handle all,
    Lets go....

    Bob Murphy

  13. #11
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    Re: The gruelling summer program that helped Bailey Williams become AFLís most improved player

    Quote Originally Posted by azabob View Post
    Yep. Just said something similar in response to your post in another thread.
    I hope I was plagiarising
    Start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone.
    Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often. But if take you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up ó if you do these things, then the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today.
    And what started here will indeed have changed the world ó for the better.

  14. #12
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    Re: The gruelling summer program that helped Bailey Williams become AFLís most improved player

    Quote Originally Posted by GVGjr View Post
    What's his incentive for next season that he didn't already have for this season?
    Quote Originally Posted by azabob View Post
    Yep. Just said something similar in response to your post in another thread.
    Quote Originally Posted by GVGjr View Post
    I hope I was plagiarising
    No two month break in between games for coronavirus (I hope)
    Premierships: AFL 1954, 2016 VFA - 1898,99,1900, 1908, 1913, 1919-20, 1923-24, VFL: 2014, 2016 . Champions of Victoria 1924. AFLW - 2018.

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  16. #13
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    Re: The gruelling summer program that helped Bailey Williams become AFLís most improved player

    Quote Originally Posted by bornadog View Post
    No two month break in between games for coronavirus (I hope)
    I hope you're right but I suspect that is a long bow to draw because in 2016 the consensus was that the players would be hungry to "do it for Bob" in 2017. Having climbed their mountain many showed up for the pay cheque and some giggles in 2017.

    Williams struggled to get a contract last year and didn't have one until the last minute. He was determined to show that the club was wrong. Bruce has a secure deal for 3 more years and the MC hasn't held him to be accountable for his poor form this year.
    Have we really incentivised him for 2021? Lets hope it is just a covid-19 distraction but he should have been better than that
    Start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone.
    Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often. But if take you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up ó if you do these things, then the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today.
    And what started here will indeed have changed the world ó for the better.

  17. #14
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    Re: The gruelling summer program that helped Bailey Williams become AFLís most improved player

    Do you recruit mature players who need to be “incentivised” .... motivation and drive should be a perquisite.

  18. #15
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    Re: The gruelling summer program that helped Bailey Williams become AFLís most improved player

    No execuses for Josh Bruce
    He’s come in as a big recruit and has been woeful

  19. Likes Dry Rot liked this post

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