At a glance: 

  • Player empowerment and two-way trust will be major cornerstones in St Kilda's growth next season, according to Brett Ratten.
  • The Saints' one-to-four-year players returned to RSEA Park on Monday.
  • St Kilda's coaching panel have been putting in work during the off-season to improve their own coaching and player education.

Senior Coach Brett Ratten says player empowerment and two-way trust will be major cornerstones in St Kilda’s growth heading into the new year.

The Saints’ one-to-four-year players returned to RSEA Park last Monday, but were surprised to find the pre-Christmas time-trial – a pre-season staple – had been removed from the agenda.

Instead, the club will complete its annual run once the entire squad reunites in 2021.

A strong body of off-season work across the board, supported by positive GPS and skinfold results, has given Ratten and the coaching group confidence of the squad’s mindset and self-driven output.

01:43 Mins
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'Let's set our season up right here, right now'

Ratts sets the tone as the Saints return to RSEA Park for our 2021 pre-season.

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“I think the game is heading down a path of empowering our players and them taking responsibility for their career,” Ratten told SEN.

“The trust goes both ways. We’ve got to push the envelope in the trust factor and if you break it, then there’s probably consequences for the player and what it does to the team.

“The off-season is going to be so critical for so many because it will really shape their seasons and how they go about it.

“We’re going to put a lot of faith in them, so we have to educate them in that space.”

St Kilda’s coaching group met three weeks before the players’ December return to map out their preparation for the year and highlight areas where they could improve their own coaching and player education.

The “low-key” build-up and daily sounding board discussions were a solid jumping-off point, but Ratten says there is still a mountain of work to come for all involved.

“This season is going to throw enormous challenges. We have to back up our performance, expectation will be higher, we’ll get a tougher draw, it’s not going to be easy,” Ratten said.

“Just because we’ve got a lot of younger players who had great seasons – I think in our best-and-fairest we had eight players that were 24 or under in the top 10 – and that’s great signs for our footy club, but that just doesn’t mean natural progression, it means a lot of hard work.

“I believe our players are looking forward to it, but they’ve got challenges ahead personally, collectively and even from a coaching group, we’ve got to keep pushing.

“Our group has the capabilities, but that’s the challenge.”