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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Tips from the Trenches: Master of the Obvious

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If there is one thing I’ve learned over the years training youth athletes’ it’s to NEVER take anything for granted. Just when you think something is too obvious to be addressed, it reaches out and smacks you right between the eyes. I know that over the years I’ve learned from these encounters and now take every step necessary to avoid the “obvious” mistake of not addressing the obvious (I know the word obvious was used several times over the last few sentences, it’s obvious). Below are three Tips from the Trenches and experiences that I have learned from along the way. Hopefully this can allow you to learn from my mistakes. 


ascreen shot 2011-10-20 at 3.12.50 pm

Master of the Obvious


1.) Teach your athletes how to Spot:

I’ve written in the past on the art of spotting and it’s importance in a safe environment. Weather you’re training a team of testosterone fueled high school hockey players or younger athletes that have little/no experience in the weight room, do not think this is too obvious to address! When in doubt refer to Strength Coach Rule #1: Do No Harm! I don’t’ care that young Tommy’s squat went up fifty pounds if he’s out for the season because he dropped a dumbbell on his foot. This is a lesson that I almost learned the hard way (close call). A safe environment is paramount in building a reputable strength and conditioning business. Don’t overlook the obvious!

2.) Warm-Up Sets:

I’ll never forget several years back when I was training a team of 13-year-old hockey players. It was in-season, a time when volume is low, but intensity was “supposed” to be high. We had split the team in half and stagger started the group due to the large number of athletes.   No sooner did we start the second group, when the first group exclaimed: “almost done coach.” I turned to my intern in disbelief. What I thought was obvious (everyone get at least one/two warm-up sets prior to a “working set”) was not! In addition, the athletes had no clue what “working sets” were at all! The athletes simply did exactly what was written on their excel spreadsheet without breaking a sweat. Note to self: Don’t overlook the obvious! Now at Donskov Strength and Conditioning each athlete is verbally reminded to get at least two warm-up sets prior to loading. We also verbally speak to our athletes about intensity and load. Because these young athletes are getting stronger weekly/monthly, we don’t use 1RM % charts, we track their progress by their written workouts. If protocol calls for a set of eight, we want rep seven and eight to be a grind with perfect form/technique. If it’s too easy, the athletes are instructed to increase the load accordingly. From there, progressive overload is applied.

3.) Keep it Short and Sweet:

“Time is of essence and the essence of success is time.” (Wooden) Keep verbal cues short and sweet. Nobody cares about why triple extension is important and where the pec. minor is located. Allow athletes to master and own the movement. This happens by exposure and repetition. This is a lesson I learned rather quickly. It’s obvious!

4.) FUN:

Ok! I added a fourth! Have FUN! The atmosphere in DSC is electric and FUN! We work hard, play hard and laugh hard! This is not a boot camp or form of punishment. I always tell our athletes that we are going to work hard and have fun; we don’t want one without the other. A positive environment is obviously better than a negative one!


Doc Emrick at DSC



Just when you think it may be too obvious, think again.


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 ( He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .



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