Dandenong Stingrays prospect Will Bravo never had doubts over his physical ability. Yet his mental game struggled and he found a way to overcome it.

There’s never been doubt on Will Bravo’s physical ability on the footy field.

The Dandenong Stingrays draft prospect captained two junior interleague sides and naturally progressed into the Rays’ under 16s squad. 

But rewind to round one last season in Ballarat’s Mars Stadium rooms, it was his nerves which threatened to derail his campaign. 

Bravo drained himself mentally before that game against GWV Rebels playing different situations out in his head. 

An omission deservedly followed after he recorded just three disposals on NAB League debut. 

So, he turned to meditation. 

“I’d always just go into a game overthinking everything,” Bravo said.

“Coming off my start of last year I wasn’t playing my best footy and for me, footy is a massive mindset thing. 

“If my mind isn’t right, I won’t play the best game so that was when I started to realise I just need to get my head straight. 

“It’s been good especially the relaxation stuff, that definitely helps, just to clear your head. 

“I actually wanted to test it out at halftime or something. Just zone out, close my eyes and meditate for a bit.” 

He never got to experiment with that but what he did do helped. Massively. 

After three weeks playing for local side Mt Eliza, he returned to the Stingrays in round five and only missed one game thereafter (due to a groin niggle) averaging 11 disposals and three tackles per match. 

It was the last three weeks of 2019 which he enjoyed the most, thrust onto the ball, having previously played on the wing and half-back. 

He based his pre-season around being a regular pillar in Dandenong’s engine room this season with an emphasis on repeat efforts and ground ball. 

He hasn’t let the lockdown stop him either, training daily with the assistance of his dad, Carlos, brother James, and close mate & fellow Stingray James Thomas helping his footy. 

Even his one-year-old ‘bloody very energetic’ kelpie, Rigby nagging him out of the house increases his motivation. 

“Ground balls for me was something I really wanted to improve on so I’ve been working on it a fair bit so it’s definitely helped… and now I’ve got all this time on my hands it’s improved massively,” Bravo said

“Just below my knees sort of player is what I need to become.  

“I always tend to overrun it or I’ll be running too quickly I don’t slow down or I pop up before I have the ball so that’s something I’ve been working on a fair bit.  

The NAB AFL Draft Combine invitee had also incorporated a weekly six-kilometre run into his program to improve his endurance- something the aspiring midfielder wants to show recruiters. 

“I think my biggest aspect of the game for me would be my speed. 

“The cardio stuff for me is what I get pretty hard on myself with; the two k’, the yo-yo [which draftees won’t be tested on this year as the tests will all take place on the same day], and then my sprint. 

“I want to break a 2 something on the 20-metre sprint, I’ve been pretty close in the past. 

“So hopefully if I get on a list a few years done the track I can [show I have the fitness to] have a run through the mid.” 

So how does feel about getting on a list? 

“I’ve tried to not really think about it too much. Obviously I’m training towards it. 

“I try to take my mind off it and control what I can control. And just live in the moment really, and hopefully it all works out. “

Cliche as it sounds, it’s the precise opposite mindset as his round one match last season. 

It’s taken some ‘Will,’ but with meditation he’s been able to remedy the nerves. Bravo. 

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