Fremantle midfielder Jayden Pitt is a long-term prospect with a long-term vision of the type of footballer he wants to be – and it’s a vision that might surprise some.
Lightly-framed, and in a phase of his development that occasionally requires force feeding to gain weight, Pitt has played the majority of his football as a wingman and a high half-forward, focusing on “outside positions”.
They are roles that suit his strengths – an elite running ability and polished skills on both sides of his body – but the second-year midfielder doesn’t want to be pigeonholed as an outside player.
“We keep saying you want to do the team thing and put your head over the ball, so that’s an area I want to be really good at and I think the club wants me to be really good at as well,” Pitt toldfremantlefc.com.au.
“[Putting on weight] will help, but there’s no reason why I can’t do that (win contested possessions) now.”
Pitt, who was recruited with Fremantle’s first pick (No. 20 overall) at the 2010 NAB AFL Draft, arrived at the club weighing 69kg but has added 8kg to his frame since.
The 19-year-old has a six-day-a-week gym program that includes three lower-body sessions and up to four upper-body sessions, and a strict diet to complement it.
Still, he says he is not racing the clock to develop a physique similar to the game’s elite midfielders.
“I’ve been told there’s no rush putting on the weight,” Pitt said.
“Obviously I don’t want to lose my speed or anything like that, so it’s a gradual thing and something that takes time.
“I base a lot of my game on my running and it’s one of my strengths.”
Pitt has enjoyed an uninterrupted second pre-season and ran a personal best 3km time trial earlier this summer (although he concedes he wasn’t fully fit when he was tested by the club in his first pre-season).
He has worked closely with development coach Ashley Prescott, who says there is potential for Pitt to develop as a well-rounded midfielder capable of adding contested-ball attributes to his game.
“That’ll come with experience and a bit more size … with a bit more confidence in his body he’ll naturally improve in those areas,” Prescott said.
“It’s going to come, but we’ve got to be mindful not to make it all about the contested side of the game. We’ve been really impressed with the other aspects of his game also.
“It’s about having a really hard-core AFL attitude, and I think if he has that the results will follow. We certainly believe that he can be an elite player in the competition.”
Working closely with Prescott, Pitt says he has grown in confidence and is gaining a better understanding of the running patterns required to win more of the ball at AFL level.
Armed with his extra weight and confidence, he has the simple goal this year of adding to his eight senior games.
“I’m obviously feeling a lot more confident going into my second year,” he said.
“My body is a little bit bigger and I know what to expect in pre-season, so I’m a lot more confident.
“I just want to give myself the best opportunity to play at AFL level. If I’m playing WAFL then I’m just going to give it my absolute all there as well.”