Navy stress-tests basketball champions

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Will Singer (author), LSIS Brad Darvill (author)

Location(s): Fleet Base West

Topic(s): HMAS Stirling, Fleet Base West, Mentoring

The Perth Wildcats Basketball Team in front of the helicopter fire trainer at the School of Ship's Safety and Survivability during the team's visit to HMAS Stirling. (photo: LSIS Bradley Darvill)
The Perth Wildcats Basketball Team in front of the helicopter fire trainer at the School of Ship's Safety and Survivability during the team's visit to HMAS Stirling.
Like a crew of ‘buccaneers’, the blindfolded Perth Wildcats basketball team ‘walked the plank’ then navigated through hoops of a different kind during teamwork and leadership skills training - Navy’s way.
Under a cunning plot conjured by Navy’s Physical Training Instructors, the basketballers were collected from the Rockingham Foreshore unaware of the schedule that lay ahead.
Leading Seaman Physical Training Instructor Simon Horner said that their mission was to test the players’ physical and mental resolve under duress and fatigue whilst in situations unfamiliar to them.
“The coaching staff wanted to see players develop their teamwork and leadership skills and to see how effective the players communicated to each other when under pressure,” Leading Seaman Horner said.
“The group had a mixture of young and veteran players, which created a great group dynamics especially when the group activities started.
“As professional athletes, they adapted well to change and understood that somethings cannot be controlled, and to ensure that the change did not impact their ability to perform a task.
“The team shot through ‘hoops’ of a different kind in a test of trust and communication when they were made to walk the diving board blindfolded and ‘dunk’ into the pool below.
“With the timer running, one partner would guide them firstly off the diving board and into the water - once surfaced they had to navigate through 4 designated hoops at various depths,” he said.
The team from the School of Survivability and Ship Safety turned up the heat when the players got to experience helicopter fighting units and the ‘pump and flood’ at the fire-ground, which gave them a taste of damage control techniques in the Navy.
Senior Instructor Chief Petty Officer Marine Technician Stuart Hall said that the players’ performance in the flooding compartment was a highlight of the fire-ground activities.
“We were extremely pleased with how efficient and quick they were,” Chief Petty Officer Hall said. 
“As a professional team, it was impressive to watch how well they coordinate and organise prior to each activity.
“When confronted with situations that were foreign to them they stay focused on-the-job and were able to think and react quickly.
“The natural leaders of the team took charge during this evolution, which is very familiar to Navy when prioritising jobs during a fire or toxic hazard, he said.
The Wildcats finished with a physical training session on the beach utilising ropes, logs and kayaks that tested their physical and psychological threshold.
“Mental toughness would be tested as teams were allocated and the competitive spirits started to boil amongst the players,” Leading Seaman Horner said.
“It took every person in the team to push themselves to the absolute limits to complete the task with no player wanting to let the team down.
“The positive reinforcement displayed between the players certainly created the drive required to get through the task,” he said.
Feedback from the players and coaching staff was positive and some of the more quieter players improved their own self-confidence and boasted a sense of pride and accomplishment when they completed a task together as a team.