Article on StrengthCoach- “Implementing a Successful Sport Performance Internship Program”- Derek M. Hansen


I have had the pleasure of implementing what I would deem a successful sport performance internship program at the university level.  I had an endless supply of applicants, submitting their resumes from all over the world.  Graduates of the intern program also had no problem obtaining work at the NCAA Division 1 level, National Sport Institutes and also for a number of professional teams.  All of these interns developed exceptional coaching abilities, effective communication skills, the ability to create comprehensive plans for all sports and a fearless ability to think on their feet and adapt to changing circumstances.  They have also matured into fabulous individuals that make the world a much better place.  Perhaps I was simply lucky to have these great individuals working for me.  However, I think we have created an environment where freedom of expression is encouraged and only the best solutions for athlete improvement are acceptable.

I have thought deeply about the type of environment that is required for optimal learning in an applied and practical field.  Provided below are some key points I have assembled based on my experience and the great knowledge that has been passed on to me by my mentors.  I am a firm believer that we are a product of those who came before us.  These concepts are as much mine as they are theirs.

Education Must be the Primary Goal of an Internship Program

I ended up changing the name of my program to an “Apprenticeship” program because it seemed like internship programs were simply a method to rustle up free labor for an organization.  At least the “Apprenticeship” label gave the impression that knowledge and method would be passed on.  If you are only setting up an apprenticeship to get young people to do your dirty work and menial tasks, you will not have much success in building a successful, attractive program.  If you pass on valuable information and knowledge to your interns, they will offer to do the unpopular jobs, because they will know that they are getting value out of the arrangement.  As the saying goes, “You will only get out what you put in.”

It is also important to make the point that education is not about feeding people information.  Education is about establishing a relationship that facilitates the development of knowledge, experience and confidence.  Anyone can feed you exercises, pass on a reading list or send you YouTube videos to watch.  My most important goal of the internship process is to ignite a passion inside people that encourages them to continue learning on their own, even after they have finished with our program.  We only offer a few steps along the staircase of knowledge.  But we also want to provide our members with the energy and vigor to continue the climb.

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