November 2022, Articles

Whitney Hansen: From Te Hāpaitanga to RWC2021-winning assistant coach

HPSNZ spoke with Black Ferns assistant coach, Whitney Hansen, about the learnings she was able to take from HPSNZ’s Te Hāpaitanga programme into the winning RWC2021 campaign.

Whitney, an alumnus of the inaugural Te Hāpaitanga programme, says the most important learning she took into the eight and a half week Black Ferns World Cup campaign was how to be at her best for everyone within the wider team.

“Eight and a half weeks is a long time so I need to constantly think about what I needed to do to ensure I was at my best throughout the campaign. That was how I would be able to provide the best support in my coaching role.”

Learnings from Te Hāpaitanga were key to Whitney’s ability to take a holistic view of herself as a person and as a coach.

“The programme taught me a lot about myself and made me aware of my blind spots,” says Whitney.

“To be at your best as a coach you need to start with your own wellbeing and that means starting with what seem like little things.   For me that means getting plenty of sleep, spending time on my own and keeping the connection with my family.  These types of things were essential to help me recharge so I could take my best me into the coaching environment.”

Awareness of what she describes as her blind spots was also a skill Whitney learnt through Te Hāpaitanga.

“For example I have an increased awareness of my physical presence in a space and how to use my voice most effectively.  I’m natural a pretty soft, even-tempered person so I had to learn the skill of increasing my consciousness of when there is a need to more demanding.”

Other than learning more about managing herself and her wellbeing, Whitney says Te Hāpaitanga provided an opportunity to learn coaching techniques from a cross-sport perspective.

“As a coach in a team sport there’s a lot of time spent on tactics.  Being able to connect with coaches in individual sports, in my case an equestrian coach, increased my understanding of the role of movement, its impact on skillset and hence its impact on tactics.”

On the day HPSNZ spoke with Whitney she was excited to be heading into the primary school where she’s had a leadership role for some time.  “And I’ve got a real surprise for the children.  They will be some of the first children to see the RWC Cup up close and personal which I know they will be so thrilled about.”

Whitney Hansen in coaching action during the Black Ferns’ RWC2021 campaign