“Every year you try to maintain your performance,” says Hannebery. He’s a jovial dude with a face that looks like he’s been sipping from the fountain of youth since he was 14, but underneath the grin is a hard-nosed winner.
“Every year you’re always looking for little areas of your game, where you either stay consistent or improve, he explains. “As a midfielder you always want to improve things around stoppages, where you spend a lot of time. A midfielder's always trying to kick more goals, that's certainly a goal of mine, trying to get more on the scoreboard and become more damaging in that respect.”
His desire to improve his performance – despite his numerous accolades – is what separates Hannebery from the pack. Earlier this year, the midfielder told the Herald Sun “every year I look for improvement.” Pressed on what that has meant in his 2017 pre-season, Hannebery offered an insight into his own pre-season strategy.
“You can always improve. From consistency, you’ll have that natural improvement. You've only gotta look at [Swans captain] Josh Kennedy; he had one of his best years last year and he's 28 or something. You can say ‘you've already achieved so much,’ but certainly he went to another level in different areas of his game. When you've played for a while, it's not massive improvements, it's about the subtle improvements that you'll notice along the way, in all parts of the game. There's not really specific things [to improve on], myself I want more to kick more goals, but there's a number of little things that over the course of the year that I’m looking to improve; a whole game style.”
The improvements have been noticed early, as Hannebery reportedly returned to Swans camp in excellent shape, finishing first in the team’s first 3km run. After sustaining a heartbreaking broken leg during the Grand Final, his running ability and pre-season shape is even more remarkable.
During the off-season, nursing a broken leg and motivated by the Swans’ loss in the AFL Grand Final, Hannebery made the decision to cut out alcohol altogether for the off-season and the following 12-month period. It was a decision that has paid early dividends and may continue to do so in season 2017.
“I just wanted to give myself the best chance to recover after the grand final,” Hannebery says of the self-imposed booze ban. “I wanted to be really clear mentally through the pre-season, with the vice-captaincy I wanted to be better able to establish relationships with other teammates, and I think the best way to do that is to be really clear and fresh. During the Christmas break and off-season I felt there's always that trap of relaxing and enjoying yourself too much, having too many drinks. So I made the decision to give myself the best chance to perform by not having a drink for 12 months, and that includes the rest of the season. So far I've been feeling really level-headed and having a good clear focus at the footy club, but also away from the game in my relationships and life outside football as well.”
“It's important to get out of your comfort zone. If you don’t, you'll never realise the possibilities."
With a renewed focus on his performance, the three-time All Australian midfielder is looking ahead to a promising season ahead. Looking back though, he understands he got here through hard work and a willingness to push himself.
“It's important to get out of your comfort zone,” says Hannebery. “If you don’t, you'll never realise the possibilities. It could be in the sport; training and your ability to push through pain. Or pushing yourself in a social situation; you might meet a potential friend or establish a relationship which might open up some opportunities. It might be challenging yourself; trying to surf, taking up a new sport, or take up a new uni course. Whatever it might be, you're extending yourself and improving your overall ability to do things.”
A willingness to take risks and step outside conventions is common to both Hannebery and Nike. Reflecting on the revolutionary new VaporMax, Hannebery is excited to get back on the track in a fresh pair.
“They're unbelievable. Unique, lightweight but they have some flexibility as well. They feel like something I'd never experienced before, they’re awesome.”
Hannebery is right at home in a lightweight running shoe. The hard-running Swan has a history in track athletics.
“I competed a fair bit throughout my school days in triathlon but more specifically in the 800-metre event throughout my time at Xavier College. I really enjoyed my athletics and developed relationships through that with some other guys, I've known Luke Matthews for a few years and also Ryan Gregson as well, just through triathlon and athletics circles. so they're the two guys I really have an interest in and they're dominating their respective distances; the 800-metres and the 1500-metres. I enjoy watching those guys compete and I understand how hard it is and how much sacrifice and work they put in so I certainly have an enormous amount of respect for all track and field athletes.”
There is no doubting Hannebery’s drive and determination. The Swans midfielder realises it’s a marathon, not a sprint, but he might just be better prepared for the lap he completes in 2017 than ever before.
Complex have partnered with Nike to introduce the Revolutionairs who are defying convention in their chosen field. Don’t miss your chance to get the Nike Air VaporMax the moment it drops.