Hansen takes athletes to higher standard

Oct 30, 2003, vol. 28, no. 5
By Marianne Meadahl

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SFU athletes already have an impressive reputation for success. For Derek Hansen, that's merely a starting point. His job is to help athletes raise the bar even higher.

The university's new strength and conditioning adviser has worked with such superstars as champion sprinter Marion Jones and has set up Olympic training strategies for numerous national teams.

Now he's using that expertise to help SFU athletes - some of whom will qualify for the summer Olympics - to gain strength and power.

Hansen's expertise is broad, from speed development and training for what he calls “explosive power,” to coaching education and digital video analysis and production.

“A lot of these athletes just need a plan and structure to work with,” he says of those he coached over the summer and early fall. Since then he has been working to maintain their increased strength and fitness levels.

Hansen, a former track and field competitor who created his own training group, SPS Athletic, is working more closely with some teams, including men's basketball and women's volleyball. Members of the women's basketball team have been following his pre-season weight program. Swimming, wrestling, and golf teams are using programs tailored specifically for their needs. Hansen expects to focus on other teams, like football and soccer, once their fall season winds down.

Women's soccer coach Shelley Howieson says Hansen's influence on players who participated in his summer training programs was evident this fall.

“I can already see that the work Derek is doing with our teams will pay off, by producing stronger athletes who will miss less game time with injuries,” she says.

Hansen has also tweaked the women's basketball weight program and is working with athletes on perfecting their techniques. “Derek is far more capable of doing that than I would be,” says coach Bruce Langford. Hansen is also working with a group of players on their running form. “Derek has a wide range of experience in that area and for the players, getting the small group tutoring from him is very motivating.”

Wrestling coach Mike Jones sees the new position as a positive step. “It's important for elite athletes to have professional assistance if they wish to maximize their athletic talent,” says Jones, whose women's wrestling team earned a national championship last spring.

Hansen is also developing a strength and conditioning internship program for students to learn more about the practical side of preparing athletes for the demands of their sport. He also wants to promote recreational activities at SFU. “All athletes recognize the value of getting better,” says Hansen, adding that athletes in all levels of sport can reap benefits from a tailor-made strategy.

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