Kalinda Howarth was one of the breakout stories of the 2020 NAB AFL Women's season, but there's no risk of the dynamic Gold Coast forward getting ahead of herself.

Howarth took the competition by storm, kicking nine goals from seven games in the Suns' inaugural season, winning a spot in the AFLW All-Australian team as a result.

The 21-year-old, likened to mercurial former AFL great Steve Johnson, was a breath of fresh air, kicking four goals against West Coast and three in the thrilling draw against Brisbane.

But on the first day of Gold Coast's pre-season, Howarth told womens.afl she's starting from scratch.

"I just like to live in the present," she said.

"I was happy with bits of my game last year.

"After the second game I honestly thought I was going to get dropped because I hadn't performed.

"If I am the best version of me, I hope that's good enough to be in the team, but if I'm not out on the track working as hard as I can, I'm not going to get picked.

"There's no point getting ahead of yourself.

"I've got to work hard and hope I'm in Lakey's (coach David Lake) best 20."

Before Howarth began knuckling down during her off-season though, there was of course the COVID shutdown period directly after the last AFLW season.

There was no way the energetic Queenslander was letting that time go to waste.

"I did a list of gimmicky little things … party tricks and anything I wanted to learn," she said.

"I learnt how to do the Rubik's cube, practising writing with my left hand, which is a pointless skill, but if somebody asks, I can do it.

"I'm not going too bad, it's getting all right.

"I picked up the guitar. It's getting there, I can put some chords together.

"And reading is probably my new hobby at the moment."

Once things opened up in Queensland, Howarth quickly turned her attention on-field, saying physically her aim was to become a better runner, a forward capable of going up the ground to gather more disposals.

She also wants to apply more defensive pressure, a deadly combination when it's coupled with her uncanny goal sense. 

After a QAFLW season railroaded by rib and ankle injuries, Howarth is healthy and in good shape.

"I'm a lot fitter than I was last year already," she said.

"I still have a lot to work on though and can't wait to get stuck in."