John Welbourn’s Thoughts on the Definition of a Coach

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John Welbourn’s Thoughts on the Definition of a Coach

Yesterday I had the honor of having John Welbourn (CrossFit Football and Power Athlete) as a guest on my podcast “The Barbell Life”. I had already been on his podcast, so I knew going in that he is a brilliant guy, but yesterday he exceeded all expectations. Not only is he smart, but also he is also motivational and inspirational. It’s rare to find people that are this well rounded. I have found that most people are either smart and boring, or exciting and dumb. John has it all.

The podcast isn’t going to be released until a later date to be determined, so I am not going to tell you about the entire show. However, I do want to focus in on one profound topic that we discussed yesterday. Somehow the topic of coaching came up, and John lit up the mic with his thoughts on coaching.

Specifically he tried to define who should actually be called a coach. Our main concern is that everyone who owns a gym or works in a gym calls himself or herself a coach nowadays. CrossFit has been a great evolution in the fitness industry no doubt about it. However, everyone that owns a box believes that they are a coach. I guess that it is the cool thing to be called coach versus trainer. I am not sure how this got started, but nevertheless this is the new thing.

John defined what a coach isn’t very clearly. A coach isn’t a cheerleader with a stopwatch. If you are just cheering people one, keeping time, and counting reps, then you are not a coach. I am not saying that you are a bad person, and I am not saying that you don’t help people. There are a lot of lazy people in the world, and they people to motivate them. However, that doesn’t make you a coach.

We all agreed on a few traits that make up a coach, let’s define the word coach a little. First, a coach has to have something to teach. If you want to teach fitness, then you better have a basic understanding of physiology, biomechanics, anatomy, and kinesiology. You will need this basic understanding to formulate plans that actually help individuals reach their goal.

I coach mainly weightlifting and some strength and conditioning. I need to have the following knowledge:


• Technique of the lifts
• How to teach that technique
• Basic concepts of programming
• Understanding of basic physiology
• Basic Anatomy
• Basic concepts of biomechanics
• Competition Preparation
• Contest rules

Strength and Conditioning Coach

• Anatomy
• Physiology
• Programming
• Sprinting, Jumping, and Agility Mechanics
• Programming
• Biomechanics

I have watched so many people call themselves a strength and conditioning coach, and the only skills that they possessed was a basic understanding of barbell movements and the ability to yell a lot. That’s not a strength and conditioning coach folks. That’s a meathead turned madman.

Of course a coach is someone that is more than just knowledgeable. A coach should possess the ability to bring the absolute best out of people. They must be able to look into the eyes of their pupils, see the potential, and be able to pull that potential out of that athlete. This is a craft that is perfected overtime.


A coach also has to be able to shift mindsets and breakdown barriers. If I get someone coming to me that desires to play in the NFL, I have to convince that athlete that they deserve to play in the NFL. I have to convince them that they have the ability to dominate in the NFL. That is only way that someone makes a team in the NFL. If they just want to make the team, then they will probably fail. However, if they desire to dominate, then they have a chance of at least making the team.

If one of my athletes has any doubts, then my job is to erase those doubts. I have to be able to pull out those doubts, and then I have to figure out why they are present in the first place. Finally I will need to show those doubts as unwarranted, and replace those thoughts with positive ones. A lot of this is accomplished by a positive mindset.


If you come to my gym Mash Elite Performance, you will sense positive energy right away. We have a culture of excellence and winning, and that starts from the top down. We only talk about winning. We never discuss the possibilities of losing. Winning becomes the expectation of all our team members. No one talks about making the American Open or making the Nationals. We talk about making top ten, top five, podium, and then winning. Making a National competition simply becomes a part of the process.

Coaches are special individuals. They possess lots of knowledge about their chosen craft. They are also able to help their athletes realize their potential. These individuals are special because they dedicate their lives to the service of others. Taking the title of coach is a big deal to existing coaches. We have spent our lives increasing our own knowledge and perfecting our craft. It hurt our souls to watch a cheerleader with a stopwatch being called coach. You need to earn that title, and then you too can be proud to be called coach.

Don’t forget about the Mash Elite Weightlifting Team Camp:

We are hosting a three-day camp July 8-10 at the Mash Compound. It’s going to look like this:

• Day 1 Max Out Friday with the team and social afterwards
• Day 2 Clinic with Coach McCauley, Coach Wilkes, me and the team
• Day 3 Clinic about meet day prep and strategy, and then a sanctioned meet

We’ve decided to limit the camp to only 20 people, so don’t wait if you’re interested. Here’s the link to find out more:

<<<3 Day Mash Camp>>>

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