Coach's Favorite – Garage Strength

Coach's Favorite

Does your coach have favorites? Have you wondered how you can get under the “favorites” umbrella? It's actually pretty simple. Are you doing these 5 things? 

The Umbrella

At Garage Strength, many of the athletes discuss my “umbrella” athletes. The lifters or wrestlers or weightlifters that I go out of my way to do extra work for. Maybe I move their boxes for them or I grab them an extra bag of chalk, pack them some pre-workout or even get them a coffee here and there.

The Umbrella Athletes definitely know what is going on, they know their position in the gym and they also know the expectation behind their position of power. Recently, this question was raised to me more nearly a dozen times in a matter of a few days. “How can we get under your umbrella?”

I started to really think about the question and what I see as consistencies behind my “favorites” and why they tend to get preferential treatment. Let’s dive into five specific elements that bring them under the circle of favoritism.

1. Work Your Ass Off

If you want to be a favorite athlete of mine, you BETTER work your ass off. That means day in and day out, in every single aspect of the specific sport in which you are competing. A work ethic is 100% necessary to becoming a champion and becoming one of my favorites. That means show up on time, warm up properly, have specific training cues, smash training and then smash recovery and constantly get better!

Often times we forget that working your ass off includes outside the gym and training period. Ideally, there will be a MINIMAL amount of partying, a minimal amount of extracurricular activities that can take away from a progressive plan to accomplish something great. Working your ass off means nutrition should be on point, mobility work should be optimized, meditation is embraced and constant individual progress is understood as a necessity to get to the top! 

2. Minimal Complaining

Complaining is a waste of energy. That means positive energy is completely sucked out of you for absolutely no reason. Not only does complaining and bitching lead to a negative response internally, it also leads to a negative response from a training group.

The best training partner I ever worked with was Anthony Myers. Anthony was one of the hardest working athletes I have ever been around, both in the weight room and on the football field. He never quit and was ALWAYS positive. Anthony was diagnosed with Stage 4 Glioblastoma in October 2018, a terminal brain tumor. For the next 10 months, Anthony showed up to training as though he was preparing for his next football season.

Eventually, his brain tumor started to impact his motor skills. He lost control of his left arm, his gait was negatively impacted and he could only use his right side in training. He never EVER bitched. Every single training session was a chance for him to get stronger, for him to get better, for him to progress as an individual.

Anthony had more reasons than anyone to complain, he could have used any excuse in the book and no one would have faulted him, but instead, he went into full-blown BEAST MODE. Every single day he stepped into the gym, everyone raised their intensity and heightened their output. That is what makes a great training partner, that is what makes a champion and that is what separates the great people from the mediocre.

Anthony passed away December 4th of 2019. He was my favorite athlete I have ever trained and he always will be and that’s because all he wanted to do was train. 

3. Max Effort and No Excuses

Nothing bothers me more than designing a full 16-week training schedule, diving deep into technical work and strength work, creating optimal routines for recovery and figuring out the absolute best ways for an athlete to succeed...only to see them be their own worst enemy during competition.

Competition jitters are completely normal as is self-doubt and second-guessing. However, something I have learned from therapy is to recognize negative responses and negative behaviors to various situations and to learn skills to handle those negative stressors. I try to bring these skills into training/coaching and mentorship and believe that all athletes can consistently improve their mental outlook during competition. BUT, I still have individuals who prefer to engage with self-sabotage instead of conquering their doubt.

Jacob Horst was one of these individuals. He consistently doubted his freakish athletic ability. He would hit monster lifts in training, push himself harder than most athletes and do a decent job handling technical criticism. However, he would step onto the competition platform and completely shit his pants. He would become a “deer in headlights” and act as though he never competed. 

4. Consistent Feedback

At Garage Strength, I have developed a system of analysis known as “Athlete Reactive Analysis.” I use this method to peak all of my athletes. This system is solely responsible for me being able to peak athletes like freight trains. Athlete feedback and tracking is absolutely key to their success in their sport. That means all forms of training and stimuli better have a means of data recording! However, many of my athletes REFUSE to track their weights, distances, feels, etc...and they aren’t under my umbrella!

To Find Out More about Athlete Reactive Analysis, CLICK HERE

Nick Gwiazdowski is one of the best athletes that I coach. He is also one of the best freestyle wrestlers on the planet and one of the best NCAA Heavyweights of all time. Every single time that Nick gets a new program, I know that I will get a phone call, I will discuss the program from start to finish, Nick will ask for videos and then as we progress through the program, Nick will update his weights daily and comment with his general feeling. If anything crazy happens on the mat during training, Nick will let me know and we will adapt his training. This is why Gwiz is one of the best in the world. He provides consistent feedback that enables me to make better decisions which ultimately puts him in a better spot as an athlete!

5. Understand the Magnitude of Expectation

I want to be the best throws coach in the world. I want to be the best weightlifting coach in the world. I want to be one of the best strength coaches ever. I want to contribute to the field of sports performance and I want to share my lessons with the world. My athletes know this and they comprehend the magnitude of that expectation.

The best athletes I train know what I expect from them, they know I want them to become a world championship qualifier, they know I want them to become an Olympian, an All-American, a National Champ, a State Champ...they KNOW I want them to become the best version of themselves!

That is the greatest expectation of all. Every athlete that trains under me knows that I challenge them every single damn day to become the greatest version of themselves. If they have the athletic talent and mental fortitude coupled with my energy and intensity and periodization, they know that we can achieve that expectation. If they don’t comprehend or embrace that expectation then all of the energy and work is brushed by the way-side and they will not be living under my special umbrella! 

Final Thoughts

Greatness is a difficult realm to embody. Having a special spot under the umbrella of favoritism is also a difficult spot to earn AND it is a difficult spot to exist. The spotlight is on, the accountability becomes more and more serious as the days pass and the intensity of the fire increases over time. But that is what makes champions and that is how athletes can earn a special place in my training system.

Individualized Training App

Get elite level strength programming with


Blog Topics

Yo, It's Dane

Welcome to the Garage Strength Blog, where it is my goal to provide you with the experience and knowledge I've gained in the strength and conditioning world over many years of learning from both successes and failures. I train elite-level athletes in a multitude of sports from the high school to professional levels, already producing 5 Olympics and 30+ National Champions. If you want to be the next champion I train, check out my strength programs below!

Start Training With Me

Join for free educational videos EVERY WEEK on strength coaching and athletic performance

Previous PostNext Post

Leave a comment

Name .
Message .

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published