A RELAXED mindset was the catalyst for Tommy Jackson's impressive Victorian Premier Cricket first XI debut season.
The Woodford export, who scored a century in Geelong's grand final defeat to Carlton on the weekend, believes tweaking his approach to cricket has paid dividends.
"At the start of the season I was really nervous and wasn't having as much fun, so I was making shit scores and I thought 'I'll try and have a bit more fun with my mates' and it's worked well," he said.
Jackson made 449 runs at an average of 64 in eight top-grade innings.
He scored three centuries, including one on debut and another in the decider.
His three tons came in losses.
"The hundred doesn't feel as good not winning. I was shattered with the (grand final) loss," Jackson said.
"I was out there thinking when we were on top 'I've made two hundreds this year and we've lost twice, surely it's third time lucky and we can get a win'.
"The one disappointment out of my hundreds is I haven't made a match-winning one yet."
Jackson conceded he was tired after "a pretty mentally-draining weekend".
But his personal achievement - he scored 122 runs in the three-wicket loss at Melbourne's Junction Oval - was a career highlight.
"It was definitely a pretty special moment to make my hundred out there with (fellow Warrnambool and District Cricket Association export) Tim Ludeman being out there," he said.
"It is satisfying but it's made a lot easier when you've got people around who make it enjoyable and laidback.
"It's a pretty fun environment. During the week something I look forward to is rocking up on a Saturday and playing with some great people who make it so much fun."
Jackson had to work hard for his runs against Carlton, especially early in his innings on Friday.
"I thought I came in at a pretty tough period, end of day one, and I had to fight through a bit," he said.
"They gave me a fair few bouncers, so they were testing me out.
"I thought I grinded it out late in the day on day one and day two I came out and attacked and played my shots which my natural game."
Jackson moved to Geelong with his dad Anthony two years ago to advance his cricket.
He said it was tough early on, particularly with mum Bec and younger brother Charlie still in Warrnambool.
"I was hard for me the first year, I struggled to be honest, and I feel this year I've come a long way, not just in cricket but even off field," Jackson said.
"Mum, my little brother and nan and pop try and get down to most home games, they've been really supportive."
The 2015-16 WDCA premiership player said playing at Geelong alongside Nirranda's Brody Couch, one of his good mates, had helped him settle into life in the VPC.
He also remains in frequent contact with Woodford coach John Houston, whom he regards as one of his cricket mentors.
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.