MELBOURNE has added meditation to its pre-game preparation this season, with the players using the technique to narrow their focus and switch on for the contest ahead.
Meditation has been part of the Demons' program since the end of 2013, but defender Tom McDonald has seen major benefits from adding the mental relaxation technique to his game day program in 2015.
"We think our pre-game focus has been really good," McDonald told AFL.com.au.
"The meditation clicks everyone into gear and it makes sure we're not too amped up or anything like that."
The pre-game meditation sessions occur two hours before the game and are run by Tami Roos, the wife of coach Paul Roos.
The players complete 15 minutes of meditation in the changerooms together, before being left to go through their own individualised preparations.
North Melbourne has used a similar routine for the past three seasons, where the lights in the changerooms are switched off and the players are put through low-tempo yoga/pilates exercises under a relaxed state.
McDonald, who has been one of the best defenders this season, believes the meditation sessions have been a key factor in Melbourne's improved starts to games this season.
"We really struggled at the start of games last year, but, bar last weekend, the other games we've had really strong starts," McDonald said.
The Demons have held leads at quarter-time in all but one game this season, with Fremantle – last Sunday – the only team to beat them out of the blocks.
Fremantle did it quite convincingly too, booting 5.3 to Melbourne's 2.2 in the opening term.
Melbourne's fast starts were a trend not lost on Dockers coach Ross Lyon.
"They're one of the best three starting teams in the AFL if you look at the first few weeks," Lyon said after the game last weekend.
Alongside the game-day meditation, Melbourne is using floatation therapy two or three times a week to aid its recovery.
'Floating' involves lying in a pod containing a highly concentrated Epsom salt solution, which creates buoyancy, and gives the body the sense of feeling weightless.
"It was a bit strange at the start. In the first 10 minutes you're in there (inside the closed pod), you're thinking, 'What's going on?' But once you let go and relax, it's quite nice," McDonald said.
"A lot of the guys really love it and some of the guys think it's not for them.
"But I'll definitely give it another go."