Anthony Donskov is the founder of DSC where he serves as the Director of Sport Performance. Donskov holds a Masters Degree in Exercise Science & is the author of Physical Preparation for Ice Hockey.
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?
I believe we have a strength and conditioning identity crisis! Too many Coaches and trainers seek advanced training means for non-advanced populations! It takes years and years in the weight room to be considered an elite trainee. Young fourteen-year-old Tommy doesn’t need Yuri Verkoshansky’s Block Training System or Tudor Bompa’s Advanced periodization to get strong. His current adaptation reserve is larger than an SUV running on fumes. He needs a healthy dose of iron, a healthy dose of squatting, hip hinging, pressing, pulling and heavy carrying. In reality he just needs progressive resistance, nothing-fancy just sweat, chalk and hard work. I love reading the work of Eastern Block practitioners: how they train, their means, methods, the cumulative training effects they seek, but these forms of periodization are intended for elite, Olympic athletes with years and years of weight room experience and plenty of time to kill. Additionally many of these models are reserved for events with certain end point dates, not team sports that carry a stress/response element of 55 games, 50+ practices and high impact collisions.
During the competitive hockey season at Donskov Strength and Conditioning the majority of our athletic population are high school hockey players with little weight room experience. Our goal: get strong by the easiest means necessary. However, in the summer we train college and professional athletes with many more years of weight room experience. We may play around with different forms of planning but our goal is the same, stay healthy, and get strong! We are not preparing our athletes for one major event, but 55 mini events that drive the stress/response through the roof. We can learn a lot from the Coaches/models that come before us, what works, what doesn’t, means, methods, results and pedagogical skills. However, it must be applied to the right person, with the right experience, for the right sport, with the right schedule at the right time. Olympic lifters carry very different needs than team sport athletes with novice experience. Failure to see the difference results in an identity crisis!