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‘I sound like a psycho’: Pies legend shares secret routine

Scott Pendlebury spent this past off-season getting faster and lighter.

At age 34, Collingwood’s games record-holder and longest-serving captain – he is preparing to lead the Magpies for a ninth- straight year – is still ploughing on with his seemingly endless pursuit to get better.

That’s why Pendlebury sucked up his pride and signed up to train, alongside on-footballers and peers from Collingwood and rival clubs, with The Speed Project’s Jarrad Kay.

In the back of his mind was his much-discussed positional shift from the midfield to half-back, where he won’t cop as many bruising knocks but will need to run more.

“Honestly, that was pretty daunting, knowing you’re going to be the slowest guy there,” Pendlebury told News Corp.

“We were essentially on a running track learning how to sprint.

“I was comfortably the slowest when I started, but, individually, to add four or five kays to your top-end speed in 12 weeks was massive for someone like me.”


‘Someone like me’

Understanding Pendlebury is knowing he accepts he doesn’t always have a great football-life balance – and that he doesn’t think that’s a weakness.

He’s obsessive. Almost everything he does is geared towards maximising himself as an athlete.

There are his Tempur bed sheets where he can control the temperature he sleeps at, the magnesium in his home pool, his sauna, and even the Archies thongs he swears by to maintain his country roots but also his elite mentality.

We will get to Pendlebury’s eating habits later.

He turns off the solar heating on his pool once football season arrives and it effectively transforms into an ice bath at 10 degrees.

Pendlebury starts the day after games right there – for 11 minutes – then switches to the sauna for about 40 minutes, before moving onto the exercise bike in the fully equipped gym he paid for during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I sound like a bit of a psycho with this stuff, don’t I?” Pendlebury said.

Scott Pendlebury

Scott Pendlebury wears Archies thongs. Picture: Josh Miller

He entered the AFL as a teenager having broken his left foot playing basketball about a year earlier, then did the same on his right not long into his Magpies career.

Both breaks were to his fifth metatarsal bone.

Pendlebury insisted on still wearing thongs, so club podiatrist Bec Morarty introduced him to the arch-supporting Archies, which promote themselves as everything thongs typically aren’t (in a good way).

He heard all the whispers around the corridors from the old stagers when he was still a kid about how they all wished they paid more attention to recovery and nutrition.

Pendlebury promised himself then not to be one of those regretful veterans.

“I just gravitated towards that stuff and thought if I did all that

now, then maybe I’ll feel better at 28, 32, 34, whatever age it is,” he said.

“I’ve done the little things since my first year and I’ve continued that for a long period of time.

Scott Pendlebury heads to the beach three days a week for recovery purposes. Picture: Michael Klein

“That means going down to the beach three nights a week for 20 minutes and learning a lot about what actually is a good diet and nutrition – performance nutrition – and investing time and money to learn about that space.

“It helps that my wife (Alex) is a nutritionist, but it’s just a quest for knowledge and improvement.

“I’ve never been one that’s said ‘No’, so I’m always happy to have a go at things and see if it might make me a little bit better.”

Studying the greats from various sports.

NBA superstar LeBron James famously spends US$1.5 million a year to maintain his body, once costs are factored in for his home gym, trainers, massages, therapist, and nutritionist, among other things.

Another evergreen sporting legend, NFL quarterback Tom Brady, has his own fastidious approach, from an all-natural diet, no alcohol, plenty of sleep, and a focus on flexibility over lifting heavy weights.

Pendlebury couldn’t put an exact figure on what he spends annually said anything he did, so long as he saw a benefit, was seen as an investment rather than a cost.

“I love the NBA and NFL and it’s different, but on the nutrition side of things, there’s a lot to learn from boxing and UFC, with what they go through with weight cuts and rehydration strategies,” he said.

Scott Pendlebury is always looking for new ways to improve himself. Picture: Getty Images

“I consume all that sort of stuff, even if it’s jockeys with their hydration and how they do all that. I try to learn from other athletes and teams.”

Pendlebury even picked world champion boxer Manny Pacquiao’s brain on his own training habits when they crossed paths five years ago.

What stuck with the Magpie most was the amount of core training Pacquiao completed, so he tried one day to replicate one of the Filipino’s sessions.

“I remember just with my brothers mucking around and we did a session that he would do and I could barely laugh for a week, I was that sore,” Pendlebury said.

“Again, I just like to try things like that to see if I can incorporate it into my routine and get benefit out of it.

“LeBron James talks about how he does float tanks and cryo chambers. It gets you thinking and it’s a bit of trial and error to see what might work for me.”

Pendlebury with Pacquiao

Scott Pendlebury with world champion boxer Manny Pacquiao and former Collingwood president Eddie McGuire. Picture: Kylie Else

The off-season that’s anything but

Pendlebury said his wife would vouch for him being arguably as busy during the AFL off-season as at any other time.

You read that right. Take this off-season, for instance.

He did speed work at Moorabbin three times a week, another three footy-based sessions on an oval with teammates and was in the gym on six other occasions.

There were also weekly myotherapy with Mina Garas at My Body Clinic in Bentleigh.

“Mina is the best in the business,” Pendlebury said.

He will start season 2022 about 3kg lighter than he’s played at in recent seasons in preparation for his new football chapter in defence.

Scott Pendlebury, pictured celebrating with fellow Magpies star Jordan De Goey, is optimistic about what Collingwood can do this year. Picture: Michael Klein

Pendlebury fractured his left leg again in December but that recurrence was never considered overly serious.

His sixth All-Australian selection was three years ago and his fifth and most-recent Copeland Trophy win as Collingwood’s club champion was in 2016 but don’t let that and his positional change fool you.

Pendlebury remains one of the Pies’ most critical players, evidenced by his third-placed finish last year in the best and fairest count.

“I feel like, individually, I’m performing well,” he said.

“I’ve had a really good off-season to set me up to play and, obviously, I’m going to play more down back this year, so I’ve

lost a bit of weight.

“I feel like I’m on track to have a good season and influence and hopefully help Collingwood get up the ladder.”

Team success, namely experiencing that 2010 premiership feeling at least once more is still his great motivator, rather than becoming the next AFL player to reach 400 games.

Where does family fit in?

Pendlebury is a father-of-two these days – son Jax and daughter Darcy – so he’s had to become more organised to remain so dedicated.

“I’m locked in when I’m at footy and give everything I’ve got, then one thing I’m pretty good at saying is no to things,” he said.

“I’m ruthlessly efficient with my time, because I don’t like to do things that take away time that I could spend with my family.

“When I’m home; I’m present. I’m with my kids, with my family. It’s very different to when I was 18 to 27 with no kids.

“I used to have a lot more time up my sleeve, whereas sometimes now it’s like, ‘I’d rather be at home shooting hoops with Jax’, because that also fills my cup and makes me happy.”

That doesn’t mean Pendlebury has lost any of his edge. His average in-season week is still as regimented as ever.

Scott Pendlebury and son Jax share a passion for basketball. Picture: Fiona Hamilton Photography

Just like his go-to, day-after-a-game recovery routine, he does the same things three, two and one day out from playing.

Pendlebury didn’t want to share exactly what he eats on match day – he didn’t want to give up any advantage he holds over competitors – but the science behind his approach is obvious.

He has figured out which types of carbohydrates and sugars to consume, at what time and how close to a game.

“It’s obsessive but I’m just trying to get better. I don’t want to be defined by a number, like being 34 now and (the narrative) ‘It could be your last year’,” Pendlebury said.

“I’m trying to get better every day and not put limits on what I can do. I feel like that’s how all athletes should operate – why put a ceiling on yourself?

“Just do you and have fun. I love the process of it as well, so I don’t see it is a chore. I love training and trying new things and feel really good from staying fit and healthy.”


Games: 334 Goals: 183
Collingwood captain 2014-present
Club games record-holder and longest-serving captain 2010 premiership player
2010 Norm Smith medallist
2013 AFLCA Champion Player of the Year
Six-time All-Australian
Five-time Copeland Trophy winner


How Can I Use Grids at Footy Training?

How Can I Use Grids at Footy Training?

At Vida Footy, we use grids regularly in our sessions and holiday programs because they teach players at all levels fundamentals that directly help with real game situations. Grids can be employed at all levels, including tackers! Make sure you modify the grid so that they work and watch your players improve their tactics and game awareness.

Footy grids


Different types of Grids

There are many types of grids with many variations you can use to work on different parts of the game. Let’s start with the size of the area.  If you want to work on handballing, use grids sizes from 5×5 to 10×20 meters. Kicking grids can also vary, obviously depending on what you need to work on.  Grids can have defenders too. You can make it where there is less defenders than attackers, and visa versa. Make sure you have a clear focus on the desired output of your grid and modify the rules and size to match.


What do you learn from grids?

Grids are a way to teach your players the fundamental tactics and movement patterns of the game.  You can use groups to reinforce technical skills, but ultimately you are working on the following aspects

– Passing on a 45

– Blocking for team mates

– Constant movement

– Creating space

– Quick hands or kicks under pressure

– Leading to the correct areas

– Decision making

– Defending

– Tackling


One of the most important skills to pass on to your players is where to move to within the grid.  This will be something to look out for throughout your use of the grids.


Tackers coaches and coaches of young teams, please try and incorporate small handball grids into your training as we have seen over the years, players as young as 7 really benefiting from these activities.


Coaches of older teams, remember grids are used by AFL clubs, so make sure you try and incorporate them into your training schedule.




Sporting Clubs In Victoria Encouraged To Apply For Grants

Sporting Clubs In Victoria Encouraged To Apply For Grants

Sporting clubs from across Victoria are being urged to apply for funding to boost their equipment, skills and administration expertise.

Minister for Community Sport Ros Spence announced that applications are now open for the latest round of the Victorian Government’s 2020-21 Sporting Club Grants Program. The grants provide clubs with up to $1,000 for new uniforms and equipment, up to $5,000 for the training of coaches, officials and volunteers and up to $5,000 to improve club operational effectiveness.

The funding will help people of all ages and abilities take part in grassroots sport, no matter where they live, and is a great boost for clubs during the coronavirus pandemic. The Sporting Club Grants Program is part of the Government’s commitment to make sport more accessible and inclusive, build sustainable sport and recreation, and increase local participation. The Government has provided more than 4,300 sporting club grants across the state, totaling more than $5.9 million.

For more information on the grants and how to apply – CLICK HERE

This grant opportunity could be used towards the upskilling of workshops for coaches, promotional material, strategy, and more.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Community Sport Ros Spence.

“Restrictions have had a heavy impact on participation in community sport but that hasn’t stopped the people behind our clubs from continuing to work for their communities.”

“We’re making sure that clubs have the resources they need to invest in new equipment and uniforms, to train their people and to plan for a strong future.”

“I encourage all local clubs to take this opportunity for the benefit of players, supporters and volunteers across the state.”

What is Transition Football?

What is Transition Football?

Transition football

Transitioning out of defence is one of the most important parts of your tactics on game day. Not only does it get you out of defence, but it can, if done quickly, move the ball into the forward line fast.

One of the best ways to use this defensive to attacking tactic is when the ball is intercepted or possession gained on one side of the ground, the player with the ball quickly switches the play to the other side of the ground.

The reason why this can work is:

– Most players will be on the side of the ground where the ball was previously, opening up space to the transition side.

– Because the defending team was previously attacking forward, they may not be manned up on their player, leaving the attacking team open to transition the ball forward.

– Opens the field up, making room for fast play


How to practice and Implement this strategy. 

First of all keep using the term “in one way out the other”.  This will remind your players to scan the field when they are in this position to potentially use it.  Get your players to swivel their heads to scan for options every-time they get the ball. Therefore if a player gets the ball, they have an option to kick the ball down the line. They can also transition the play across the ground, or into the middle (only if a player is well and truly open).


Kicking the ball down the line should be encouraged only when there are no options left, or the player feels that is the best tactic to use in that particular situation. Maybe their best marking player has a mismatch, or you are winding the clock down and kick it close to the boundary line, looking for a stoppage.

Clean Hands with Matthew Rowell

Clean Hands with Matthew Rowell

Key points around Ground Ball 

  • Cleans hands ( 1 touch ) 
  • Always look to get low using your legs 
  • Spread fingers and get dirt in your fingernails when picking up the ball  
  • Eyes always on the ball   
  • Footwork, always adjusting feet prior to picking the ball up 
  • Create challenges how many effective ground balls eg 1TOUCH and handballs can you do without error in 60sec

Start Point 

  • 1.5 meter apart  Rowell to pick GB up and HB back while partner rolls ball left to right continuous effort after 60sec swap over  
  • Working on footwork and continuous movement  ( EFFORT ) 
  • When you HB back keep alternating hands and feet 
  • Increase the length and speed of drill  

Progression 1

  • Start behind the cone while your partner rolls the ball out for you to run towards once you receive GB and then HB back you must backpedal around the cone going the other way 
  • Increase the speed adding in more pressure ( EFFORT ) 
  • Keep a focus with your footwork eg Right HB = LF Left HB = RF 
  • Increase the length of handball when comfortable 

Progression 2

  • Two balls required  – Clean hands ( 1 TOUCH ) 
  • One handballs the other hits the ball back with the footy making it challenging 
  • Alternate hands and increase the speed as you become comfortable 
  • Footwork really important always be on your toes  
  • Increase the speed and  length of handball when comfortable ( EFFORT ) 

Progression 3

  • One Ball required – Rowell starts with ball 
  • HB to your partner who then taps the ball to an area making you work to pick the GB up 
  • The player tapping the ball must look to challenge their EFFORT and change of  direction to work on agility 
  • Requires a high work rate in a small area ( EFFORT )
How to improve your kicking technique in the off-season

How to improve your kicking technique in the off-season

During the off-season is the best time to work on your fundamentals before next season.  The following article will go through the main steps in working on your kicking technique.

If you would like further help with your kicking and other skills for that matter, why not come and try our Skills Sessions this term or holiday programs?

For all the information about the program, click here. 

How to improve your kicking technique

Kicking needs to be worked on throughout all levels of Junior Footy. After watching some local senior footy on the weekend I was again surprised to see so many adults kicking with bad technique.  The main problems I saw were;

  • Two hand ball drop
  • High Ball Drop
  • Tossing the ball up slightly to kick
  • Kicking across the line of the ball
  • Ball not spinning properly
These issues can all be fixed throughout the junior development stage, and as coaches one of your goals should be to leave players with better skills than what they can into to the year with.

Main focus

The biggest thing we need to work on with our players is the ball drop.  The ball drop accounts for most players ability to be a good kick or not.
The ball drop is made up of:
  • Grip
  • Alignment
  • Ball drop height
  • Ball drop position
Holding the ball correctly is important as it assists in getting the rest of the kick right.  Players want to make sure they hold the ball with their hands on the outside of the ball.  Then you want to tell your players to point the end of the ball to the ground (a lot of players will point it to where they want to kick it).
Ensure you align the ball predominantly on their preferred kick side, trying to avoid swaying from left to right.
Ball drop height & position
The ball drop should be below the players hips, with their fingers pointing to the ground.  The opposite arm then goes out to the side to assist in balancing. Getting your players to really understand the ball drop with significantly help their kicking.

How to add technique work into a session

During the warm-up phase of the session you can add some simple kicking (2 players one ball) to ensure plenty of volume.  You can then go around to every player and asses their kick.  Get players to try and hit a particular goal of kicking and marking 10 in a row, or count how many kicks they have had.
Additionally, before the session starts, players must do 100 kicks to themselves on each footy before training starts.
Throughout the training session, you can separate the group into smaller groups, and have one of those be a technique group.  Remember, this is not limited to really young players, as a lot of players even up to the age of colts need to work on kicking technique.

Suggested Activities

*These videos are available for members only, for more info and how to get access to the videos click here