HAYDEN Ballantyne believes he is playing the best football of his career, and credits Fremantle coach Ross Lyon as one of the major reasons.
Ballantyne will play his 100th AFL game on Saturday night against Melbourne in Darwin.
It has been an eventful first 99 games for the 26-year-old, who is adored by the Fremantle faithful, yet almost universally loathed by every other fan in the AFL.
Ballantyne has had an eventful season. He was suspended for a week for two separate indiscretions in the Dockers' loss to the Sydney Swans in round five, and was held goalless in Fremantle's round eight loss to Port Adelaide.
Since then, Ballantyne has kicked 21 goals in six matches, including an equal career-best haul of six against Richmond, and the Dockers have been undefeated in that stretch.
The feisty small forward said Lyon had improved him immeasurably as a footballer.
"He points out the things you need to work on, and is just at you and at you and at you until you improve it," Ballantyne said.
"Just little things like recovery, and all the smaller things that I probably wasn't at the elite level like Matthew Pavlich and Luke McPharlin and blokes like that.
"I think that's really helped, because Ross holds everyone so accountable to everything."
Ballantyne said Lyon simply asks his players to maintain a strong level of effort each week, which is why both he and Dockers have found form in the last six weeks.
"It's the consistency," Ballantyne said.
"Just doing what I'm asked to do every single week, and the goals come after that. All the pressure and pressure acts for the team, and then the goals come from that, from the turnovers."
Ballantyne said measuring a forward's output by goals is irrelevant in the Fremantle side, using Chris Mayne as an example.
With just seven goals in 13 games this season, Mayne's form has been questioned externally, particularly after he was named to the 40-man All Australian squad a year ago when he kicked 37 goals.
Ballantyne believes Mayne is having a good year despite the lower numbers.
"I think 'Mayney' has been good the whole year," Ballanytne said.
"It's not showing on the scoreboard for him. He hasn't kicked as many goals as he normally has.
"But his pressure acts and his tackles around the ground are just enormous, and he gives us a great opportunity to turn the ball over and get more scores on the board.
"Just because he's not kicking goals doesn't mean he's not playing good games for us."