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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White Coat Syndrome

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During my days as a youth, I was never a big fan of visiting the doctors’ office. Just the sight of a white coat made my heart race faster than a pace car at the Indianapolis 500. Maybe it was the fear of getting a shot, or the doctor asking me to turn and cough, either way you cut it, I had white coat syndrome! Fast forward to the present and my profession as a Strength and Conditioning Coach. The best coaches in the business use evidence based practice, meshing research with practical application to form safe, and effective protocol for their respective populations. Research however is a touchy subject. What journals are considered “credible”? How old is the study? What population was used to prove/disprove a theory? Does the study classify a “group” and not individualize certain characteristics (i.e. weight, height, age, lifestyle, sport career, previous injury, level of exercise, ect)? The list goes on and on! Research/Evidence is very important, and with all if this information at hand, many Coaches can get white coat syndrome (overwhelmed and hesitant to proceed).



                        white-coat-syndrome                       turnyourheadandcough-735165

It’s important to implement evidence-based practice into protocol. Stuart McGill has changed the way we train the “core” and much of the work/research from Shirley Sahrmann and Gray Cook has changed the way we view Movement impairments and corrective exercise. As Coaches we should NOT have to choose between research and “in the trenches training”. There are limitations to both. It is important however that we constantly stay abreast on BOTH research and safe, effective practice in the weight room.


1.)  Trench Training: There is NO substitute for trench training. Would you take medical advice from a doctor who’s facility is non-existent, has worked with a limited client base, but uses evidence-based research? Who is he/she APPLYING the evidence to? As strength and conditioning coaches, our lab is the weight room. This is where we directly apply our knowledge. We also want to learn from smart, experienced doctors’ (Coaches). Learn from their mistakes, and apply similar methods to enhance RESULTS. Much of the basis of evidence –based practice is taken from what we do in the weight room. These are the “questions” evidence based practice seeks to answer (i.e. EMG activity, aerobic vs. anaerobic).


DSC’s laboratory in Columbus, Ohio


2.) Research Journals/Books: It’s important to continually build your knowledge base as a coach. Knowledge is not power! Applied knowledge is power! Research based journals are important in the application process. JOSPT (Journal of Orthopedic and Sports PT), JOSCR (Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research), JBJS (Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery) are examples of research based journals that aid in practical application when dealing with certain populations. Books are also a good source, but keep in mind that the publication process may take years during which time the research may change. Seminar and lectures may be the BEST choice for a coach. Real time talk, research, and application on what the best of the best are doing at the current moment. Meshing the information taken from journals, books, lectures, and seminars into real world trench training is what evidence-based practice is all about.


The quest for the “perfect program” is a lifetime of asking “why”. Constantly pushing the boundaries to find a better way of getting results. It’s a combination of weight room experience coupled with research and evidence. If you spend your whole day reading journal articles behind a desk without training anyone, you should be a research scientist, not a strength coach. Additionally, as coaches we have an obligation of building safe, effective, RESULTS driven protocol for our clients. If you can’t answer the question “why” when a client asks: “why don’t we do crunches anymore?” you don’t have a basic understanding of your program. Research can be overwhelming in many cases, not knowing where to turn or which study to apply or if it’s even relevant. This can make us feel like a “turn and cough” in the doctors office. This can lead to White Coat syndrome. We need to remove these fears, listen to wise coaches with years of experience and proven results, we also need to consistently educate ourselves through research, reading and seminars and APPLY this knowledge. This will keep us out of the doctors’ office! This will eliminate white coat syndrome!


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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