TIME away from sport is essential for any professional athlete and Tommy Jackson is no different.
The 20-year-old batsman, who signed a rookie deal to play for Victoria in August, finds his landscaping apprenticeship the perfect escape from cricket.
He commutes "three or four times a week" to Melbourne from his Geelong base to train under Victorian coach Chris Rogers, spending any leftover time during the week completing his trade.
Throw in training with Victorian Premier Cricket side Geelong twice a week and Jackson's schedule is jam-packed.
"I think with my busy schedule it makes me really appreciate coming back here," Jackson, who is home in Warrnambool for a Christmas break, said.
I find it as a good balance because one day I'll go from living my dream to being an apprentice where you work hard for not much money which is good.- Tommy Jackson
"It's good to have a bit of an escape from cricket and to do some things outside of cricket, seeing mates and family and have that bit of a break.
"With such a busy schedule what I've realised is you sort of need to have an outlet. Any spare time I have, I'm trying to complete my qualification in landscaping.
"I love it. I find it as a good balance because one day I'll go from living my dream to being an apprentice where you work hard for not much money which is good."
Jackson said Victoria's first-class training standards were rubbing off on the youngsters.
Jackson and Nirranda export Brody Couch were two of five rookies enlisted by the state in 2020.
"As simple as it sounds, you come in and all the guys are training with a real purpose," he said.
"They have an intent and that helps you get better as well. You don't rock up and just train, everyone is training with a goal to get out of it.
"You just train a lot smarter than I've ever seen before. When (former South Australia talent Tim Ludeman) first came to Geelong, he got that into me straight away.
"He always told me to not just go through the motions and just hit balls, you've always got to be working on something.
"Whenever I'm in the nets or whatever I'm doing at training I'm working on something to get better."
A typical day with Victoria includes a gym session, a running session and a nets session which stretch over four hours.
"The sessions vary each month and week as a lot of the boys are in the Big Bash League," Jackson said.
"I'm up there for about four hours and then I'm coming back to Geelong. Like I said, it's good to get away from cricket a bit whenever you can and do some work or something else."
Jackson said he was relishing time at Geelong but was yet to fully hit his straps.
"I love playing for Geelong and spend all week looking forward to the Saturday," he said.
"I haven't hit them all that well yet this year. I've had some starts though.
"Every time I go out to bat I'm aiming to make 100 and I haven't yet so hopefully I can before the season's over."
Jackson said his goal for 2021 was to improve his run-scoring output. He blasted 607 runs for Geelong this past season and has 174 to date in this campaign.
"It's really simple. It's just about making as many runs as I possibly can," he said.
"That goes for every innings. I want to try to win games and hopefully the rest will all take care of itself.
"For me it's really just keeping it simple and trying to make runs every time I bat."
Jackson's Geelong side will return to action against Footscray on January 9.
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