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Back to the future for Geelong's running men

Cats veteran 'has a fight on his hands to keep his spot' Mitch Cleary and Riley Beveridge bring you an update on Geelong's pre-season

GEELONG has wound back the clock, turning to a sprint program devised by the man behind Shane Crawford's rise in an attempt to get a jump on opponents this year. 

The Cats have pinpointed seven players to undergo specific running training this summer under the tutelage of long-time fitness guru Bohdan Babijczuk and his offsider Dom Trimboli.

Smooth-moving midfielder Tim Kelly headlines a group of Cats already benefiting from the program in effect three days a week as part of the Cats' wider pre-season.

The others are Brandan Parfitt, Cam Guthrie, Jed Bews, Sam Simpson and untried pair Charlie Constable and Gryan Miers.

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With Babijczuk spending most of his time in Melbourne, Trimboli has been on hand for the personalised training.

"We're trying to get them to run more efficiently, run relaxed and change gears," Trimboli told AFL.com.au.

"Sometimes players can run with too much effort, the old '110 per cent'.

"It's about minimising the movement through the hips which helps the change of direction, and making them more comfortable at the faster tempo.

"It gives the coaches more to work with – the spread from contest to contest is so important in the game."

The initiative is one of a number of different methods in the pre-season schedule overseen by physical performance manager Scott Murphy and strength and conditioning boss Chris Dennis.

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While training has specifically been aimed at going longer this off-season, the Cats have also undergone biomechanical screening and boxing sessions with professional fighter Josh Nesbitt.

The addition of the running training comes with the appointment of former Carlton and Hawthorn player Brett Johnson as performance and development manager earlier this year.

Having seen first-hand at Hawthorn the work of Babijczuk, who is credited as driving Crawford's incredible running game, Johnson felt it could assist at the Cats.

It is expected to help Parfitt's push for more midfield time next year, while adding to the outside game of Kelly, Guthrie, Bews and Simpson.

Miers' endurance prowess is a strength, having run second to Mark Blicavs in a time trial last week, while Constable's next step forward is seen as improving his spread from contests.

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As well as providing real-time feedback, Trimboli analyses video footage of the running sessions and main training to assess players' running styles.

The work with Geelong comes as part of Babijczuk and Trimboli's widening client base across the competition, with many players seeking advice outside of their club's pre-season regimes.

Collingwood's Chris Mayne turned to the pair ahead of last season, going from the VFL's highest-paid regular to a first-choice Magpie in 2018 and notching up 14 tackles in the Grand Final.

Having celebrated his wedding this summer, Mayne has returned sporadically, even bringing young teammate Nathan Murphy along for the ride.

At Richmond, second-year dynamo Jack Higgins continues to work with the duo, having heralded their impact for his stellar junior career and impressive AFL debut season.

Tigers teammate Patrick Naish is also onboard, while others across the league include Essendon's Jordan Ridley and Western Bulldog Bailey Smith.

Former first-round draft pick Hugh Goddard, who has previously been criticised for a lack of pace, picked up the phone to undergo sessions while searching for an AFL lifeline before landing at Carlton.

Kangaroo Shaun Higgins, Tiger Bachar Houli, NAB AFL Rising Star Jaidyn Stephenson and fellow top-10 draft pick Adam Cerra have also consulted Babijczuk and Trimboli in recent years.