Vision, Values, Athlete Care


The premier high performance club in Australia


  • Excellence – every stroke we take to win
  • Respect – we respect ourselves, fellow club members and competitors
  • Friendship – we value and enjoy the camaraderie of the Club
  • Physical and mental health – we maintain physical and mental health and safety - no doping

Athlete Care

The focus on athlete care in the high-performance arm of the Club, combines the support of athletes in their high performance pursuits in working towards their goal and their management of their own wellbeing. The journey of an athlete is far more than what occurs on the water and encompasses training, coaching, mentoring and personal development. The balance of life alongside rowing, inclusive of work and study requirements is an important skill, continually being learnt by athletes throughout their life as an athlete. We aim to provide pathways that allow for the mental, physical and emotional growth and development of our athletes to achieve their goals, ambitions and dreams.

Mercantilians work in partnership to provide an environment where athletes are supported, encouraged, assisted and made to feel safe. The environment provides support and programs to foster wellbeing and support the mental challenges of high performances athletes, including the competitive, the exciting and learning through failure. 

Fostering a growth mindset is an important element of the culture fostered in the high-performance program at Mercantile.  A growth mindset is defined as “the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts” (*Dweck, 2006, pp. 6–7).  People who consistently develop and maintain a growth mindset share the following characteristics (Dweck, 2006, p. 245):

⦁    They embrace challenges.
⦁    They persist in the face of setbacks.
⦁    They see effort as the path to mastery.
⦁    They learn from criticism.
⦁    They find lessons and inspiration in the success of others.

Athletes are encouraged to learn and develop through the opportunities provided through a variety of facets of high-performance pursuits, whilst understanding how to effectively foster vulnerability and grit.  Athletes are supported by Mercantile’ s coaches who gain an understanding of the needs and ways to support each athletes, ensuring they are seen and safe.

Rowing is a sport that requires ‘deliberate practice’, which is purposeful, examined practice, focused in improvements in small parts or chunks of the whole. Deliberate practice is consistent and targets the edge of athletes current ability- the aspects of the task athletes may struggle with or not yet automated.  While repetition might build automation and will create confidence in our current ability, deliberate practice will actually develop our ability further, growing our competence. As such, an alternation between deliberate practice and the consolidation of learning through repetition is key to future successes. Neither element of practice is mindless. Both are deeply intentional aspects of achieving and maintaining high performance.

High Performance

We are a high-performance Club, working in partnership with Rowing Australia and Rowing Victoria. The high-performance pathway encapsulates the journey of rowing from school or intermediate level to an international level. This pathway encompasses the pursuits of athletes in striving to obtain a place at National Training Centre based in Penrith and Canberra, thus working towards selection in the Australian Rowing Team. The pathway opportunities include state and national underage representation and international club based tours such as competing at the Henley Royal Regatta.

In working towards state and national titles, Victorian selection, national selection, or a place at the National Training Centres, our Club provides development through the youth program, under 23 and senior squads. These squads train under the guidance of our professional and volunteer coaches.  

Athletes in the youth program complete 10 - 15 sessions per week which includes on water, strength training, and cross training.
Athletes in the under 23 program complete 12 – 16 sessions per week which includes on water, strength training, and cross training.  

Training volume increases incrementally as each athlete develops their physiology and ability to cope with the rigours of training consistently.
These squads train and race on the Yarra River, Nagambie Lakes, the Barwon River, Lake Wendouree, Ballarat and interstate.

The three high performance focus areas at Mercantile are outlined below: 

Technical - building on sweep and/or sculling skills requires ongoing deliberate practice nurtured in partnership with high performance coaching.  Mercantile coaches guide and support athletes in continuing to develop and refine their skills on the water through deliberate practice.

Physical- Physical development is a combination of aerobic endurance, strength, power and athleticism.  Mercantile uses the Rowing Australia benchmarks in continually working towards each athlete’s goal. These include the following targets: ergometer, strength and conditioning, physiological markers and biomechanical targets.

Mental- Fostering a growth mindset in continuing to work towards a goal includes the development of skills such as grit, resilience and concentration.  Mercantile works with athletes in providing the environment day to day to challenge and foster the skills in achieving positive outcomes.

The Mercantile coaching team works with athletes in the following areas:

  • Observation and performance analysis both on water and off water, provides ongoing feedback to athletes in providing clear steps along the journey 
  • Coaches promote effective questioning teaching athletes to think independently notably; input in the way they can improve their performance and the way they do things.
  • Goal setting provides a clear picture of where the athlete wants to go and the plan on how to get there.  This is an ongoing process in partnership with the high-performance coaching team.
  • Developmental and motivational feedback is making sure the athlete knows what they need to do to improve and provides advice on how to improve it. The motivational feedback is providing positive reinforcement when athletes have done a good job such as making a technical change, achieving a performance target or achieving goal or having a positive impact on those around them.

Consistent approaches and coaching feedback to athletes on technical improvements in line with the Mercantile technical model.  For athletes to achieve their goals, there is a willingness for them to be taken the journey, openly and to get the best out of themselves.  Our coaches develop trust in a safe environment and develop independence for athletes to incrementally achieve their goals.  Whilst initially this is guided and led by coaches, as confidence and an awareness of the process is developed, athletes can guide this process.

Wellbeing Program

The wellbeing program at Mercantile Rowing Club provides support to ensure each club member thrives in achieving their goals in a holistic approach; developing skills and attributes to support success and excellence.  Mercantile provides an environment for members to ensure a sense of purpose and belonging through success and failure. The program is underpinned by the Club’s values; 

  • Excellence – in rowing, as in life: “Every stroke we take, we take to win”, Jim Sprigg
  • Respect – we respect ourselves, fellow club members and competitors
  • Friendship – we value and enjoy the camaraderie of the Club
  • Physical and mental health – we maintain physical and mental health and safety 
  • Trust – we develop integrity and strength through relationships and teamwork 

These values allow members to foster friendships through engagement, respectful relationships and develop confidence shaping their future opportunities.  Supporting diversity and cultural differences ensures each club member feels valued. The wellbeing program has been developed underpinned by three pillars:

  • Physical Health- Wellness, physical health, nutrition
  • Mental Health- mindfulness, work life balance,
  • Education for High Performance - Drug education, time management, organisation, respectful relationships, career and athlete mentoring, sport psychology,.

At Mercantile we foster attributes empowering development through the sport of rowing.

  • Resilience and Teamwork
  • Leadership and Commitment 
  • Confidence and Aspiration
  • Focus and Concentration


Further reading
Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. Ballantine Books.