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Rowing coaches combat the jungle on Army learning experience

25 October 2023

Rowing Australia coaches have completed a 5-day immersive experience at the Australian Army’s Jungle Combat Training Centre (CTC) in Tully, Queensland.

A group of coaches stand in front of a shed with a sign that reads 'Combat Training Centre.'
Rowing Australia coaches, Performance Director, Participation and Education Manager, and a member of the AIS High Performance Coach Development Team at the Jungle Combat Training Centre.

Facilitated by the AIS High Performance Development team, the experience is part of a reciprocal learning agreement between Rowing Australia and the Australian Army.

Ten coaches entered the jungle and lived on the CTC base with communal sleeping quarters, stretcher beds, ration packs, and plenty of mosquito spray.

The coaching squad had the opportunity to observe and engage in a range of activities, including an urban assault exercise where Australian troops landed in Chinook helicopters before taking control of an enemy village. This exercise involved continuous input from coaches and leaders to the soldiers and was followed by a review to discuss the approaches used.

Para-Rowing Lead Coach James Loveday said this operation showed how soldiers adapted to make decisions in high pressure environments.

“Many of the soldiers we were watching were within the age range of the athletes we coach, and the experience provided me with some reflective tools that could support athlete learning in high performance environments,” said Loveday.

For Women’s NTC Senior Coach Ellen Randell, interacting with the trainers and officers and learning from their experiences, watching them coach and “instruct with clarity and presence” was a highlight.

Joining the coaches was Rowing Australia Performance Director Paul Thompson, who said that leading under pressure, teamwork, and feedback loops were essential for success in the sporting arena and on the battlefield.

“It’s been fabulous working with the CTC to unpick these areas, challenge our thinking and identify areas that we can take back to our National Training Centres, Pathways and Paralympic Programs,” said Thompson.

In April, four CTC Army Officers visited Rowing Australia’s National Training Centres (NTC) in Penrith and Canberra where they observed the training environment and development process of high-performance athletes.

Lieutenant Colonel Adam Reimers, CTC, also praised the partnership. "It has helped ensure that our performance coaches apply best practice when supporting Army's tactical teams to optimise their ability to respond to crisis and win in combat.”

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