In a no-nonsense story, Jay Clark reported on Sunday that the talented ball-winner from Queensland was seen to be treading water playing 16 games in his first two seasons before being told at the end of last year more was required.

Not more effort but, as Armitage puts it, more attention to detail.

"It was more off-field stuff like my diet, recovery and getting more sleep," Armitage said.

"Instead of staying up late watching videos I'm going to bed early and getting up in the morning and being active.

"I think I probably needed a bit of a kick along from the club leaders and I definitely got it."

Approaching a definitive third season, the changes in Armitage's life have helped him set alight this pre-season.

The 20-year-old, who was taken with the Saints' prized first pick (No.9) in the 2006 national draft, is no longer "going through the motions".

Armitage has not missed a session all summer and has impressed in the top running group, pushing established stars such as Lenny Hayes.

Sick of being benched so frequently last season, and dropped to the VFL three times, Armitage has high hopes of playing AFL all year.

"I guess I was a bit frustrated last year, because I would play three or four games in a row and then get dropped," he said. "I'd think to myself, what did I get dropped for?

"But it is clear now and it will be a good learning curve."

With St Kilda's premiership window still open, if only just, Armitage could provide the boost the team needs.

Already a hard in-and-under player, the 183cm bulldozer knows he needs more of an outside game.

He averaged 10 touches a match last season - deemed not enough for an on-baller of his quality and potential.

"I'm not getting out in space enough and doing that hard running to get the easy possessions," he said.

"I like getting the hard ones and, in that sense, I'm pretty lucky because it can take a few years to teach, but I'm making things difficult for myself."

Armitage missed the club's NAB Cup loss to Brisbane with a slight hamstring niggle, but is likely to be back in the senior team against the Western Bulldogs on Friday night.

"If I can have a few good 'praccy' matches, hopefully, I can be in for Round 1 and then stay there for the year," he said.

"Yes, I have high expectations of myself, definitely."