Anthony Donskov

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.

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Strength Coaches: Earn Your Stripes in the Trenches

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I don’t like comparing sports or strength and conditioning to war.It’s an insult to our fine service men and women that sacrifice their lives in order for us to do what we do.This is far more important than goals, assists, touchdowns and turnovers.I do however, find they’re ranking system fascinating and think we as aspiring coaches can learn from these brave soldiers.Rank is based on EXPERIENCE! You don’t start out as a general; you put in countless hours (early mornings, late nights) as a foot soldier learning from high-ranking commanders and executing pre set commands.You spend trench time making mistakes. You spend trench time using two ears and one mouth.You spend trench time learning and applying.You spend trench gaining valuable experience.You spend trench time in hostile situations.You spend trench time gaining the respect of your fellow soldiers and leaders. This is how you earn your stripes.It’s a continuous process, a pursuit of excellence that takes many, many years to accomplish.What does this possibly have to do with strength and conditioning you may ask?It has everything to do with it!

Trench Time for Strength Coaches/Personal Trainers

As coaches/trainers we perform our job duties in a system less society of hierarchy with no governing body. Many times trainers take “weekend” courses and call themselves “fitness professionals.”It’s the equivalent of joining the army and being promoted to a General after a weekends worth of work.Would you want to go to battle with a “weekend” General?Below are five “intangibles” of trench time! These attributes allow all coaches (both young an old) to “earn their stripes.”

Find a General: Find a Coach/Trainer with a proven track record of success.Find a Coach/Trainer that has years of experience doing what you want to do!

Use two ears, ONE mouth: I’ve attended countless seminars, watched DVD’s and attended mentorship programs.One thing I learned: SHUT UP AND LISTEN!Learning from the “Generals” equates to listening.You can’t learn with your mouth constantly flapping.

Make Mistakes/Be Persistent: Learn from the mistakes of those that have gone before you.Learn from your own mistakes.This happens in the trenches.Take a look at Abraham Lincoln’s long list of “failures” before he was elected President.I can guarantee you these were all learning experiences in his life that he would not change.

  • 1831 - Lost his job
  • 1832 - Defeated in run for Illinois State Legislature
  • 1833 - Failed in business
  • 1834 - Elected to Illinois State Legislature
  • 1835 - Sweetheart died
  • 1836 - Had nervous breakdown
  • 1838 - Defeated in run for Illinois House Speaker
  • 1843 - Defeated in run for nomination for U.S. Congress
  • 1846 - Elected to Congress
  • 1848 - Lost re-nomination
  • 1849 - Rejected for land officer position
  • 1854 - Defeated in run for U.S. Senate
  • 1856 - Defeated in run for nomination for Vice President
  • 1858 - Again defeated in run for U.S. Senate
  • 1860 - Elected President

Hit the Trenches: As Coaches, our trench resides in the weight room.If you don’t train athletes/clients, please don’t tell me how to train them!

Apply: Continuously apply your craft always looking for ways to better your product.Application in applied knowledge. This is power.

We all want to succeed at our careers, but overnight success is for lottery winners.Earning your stripes takes time, commitment, passion, determination, failure, experience and application.We can all learn from our brave service men and women.Strength and Conditioning is not a war, it’s not a battle, but to earn your stripes takes time, so roll up your sleeves and go to work!

Anthony Donskov, MS, CSCS, PES, is a former collegiate and professional hockey player, founder of Donskov Strength and Conditioning Inc., ( and Head Instructor/Director of Off-Ice Strength and Conditioning for Donskov Hockey Development ( can be reached at








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