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Posted by on in Youth Strength & Conditioning

I officially played my last game of competitive hockey in March of 2003. I miss the game everyday, but I won’t go out and play recreational hockey to fill the void. It’s not that fact that I work early mornings and late nights and have a business to operate, or the fact that my skill set has vanished faster than my receding hairline. I don’t play because too many players on the ice have an identity crisis! I don’t want “couch potato” Tom, who never played the game in his life, but watches NHL hockey every night on TSN and loves the “rough stuff”, to try to re-live the glory days he never had on me. I just don’t want to be put into a situation where egos and attitudes are involved. No one in recreational hockey is getting paid and no one is making a living on the ice. Bottom line: no one is playing at an elite level! What does this possibly have to do with Strength and Conditioning?

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I have had the privileged of training a youth hockey organization here in Columbus, Ohio for the last five years. To say the experience has been rewarding would be an understatement. I truly believe one of the best ways in which I’ve evolved, as a strength coach is my experience training the youth population. Young hyper mobile Tommy who’s only experience in the weight room was lifting in Dad’s basement doing a heavy dose of arm curls and triceps extensions posses a completely different set of issues than training a college/professional athlete. The former is a novice lifter needing a solid foundation of stability, strength and neuromuscular efficiency, where the latter may be an advanced lifter recovering from a grueling season, hypo-mobile, needing fluctuating stress levels to adapt. I enjoy training both populations. I love my job.

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Over the years I have had the privilege of working with a diverse population of athletes. Although the niche of Donskov Strength and Conditioning is hockey, we have had the opportunity of coaching athletes at each stage of the development process. I can tell you that regardless of age, our goals are similar: stay healthy, get strong, get fast, and get powerful. In addition, our recipe is very similar: “Think small. Work hard. Get good!” (Wooden) Our goal is to master the fundamentals. Basic addition is one of the biggest problems with youth training AND youth sports. By constantly adding drills on the ice/field, youth athletes fail to master the fundamentals of their respective sport. The same holds true in the weight room. Addition by subtraction is the key to development! Below are three principals of the Addition by Subtraction philosophy that we utilize at DSC.

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“Character is made by what you stand for; reputation, by what you fall for.” (Robert Quillen) I’ve always believed that coaches have the unique ability to make a profound impact on the life of young minds. Strength and Conditioning is no different, the life lessons we preach at Donskov Strength and Conditioning move well beyond free weights, chalk, and hang cleans. We have worked to create an environment of accountability, attention to detail, work ethic, pride, perseverance, team first and FUN! It is our belief that these values are far more important than weights pushed or pulled and can be applied to all aspects of life.  This environment has also created a loyal following of dedicated, hard working people. These are the intangibles that create success regardless of sport. This is whom I want on my team! “There are certain qualities that you look for in people, whether you are on a football team or in business. You look for people who are committed, devoted, and doing the best job. Talent isn’t going to matter either. I’ll take the guy who is out breaking his butt over a guy with talent in a close situation every time. I may get my butt beat a few times, but in the long run, I’ll win because I’ll have the guy with more character.” (Mike Ditka)

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Who cut the cheese in the weight room? No, I ‘m not referring to the passing of gas; I’m referring to the QUALITY of movement and exercise selection. Too many times we as coaches sacrifice quality for quantity, quality for load, and quality for inflated ego. Any time your clients/athletes engage in training, the smell test must be passed! To pass the smell test: three questions MUST be answered with a YES. If not, your weight room will smell worse than yesterday’s left over’s.

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