Secrets to Building an Army

Secrets to Building an Army


This past weekend, I took eight of the Mash Mafia Team to the Junior Nationals in Oklahoma City. I can say without a doubt that it was the most rewarding weekends of my coaching career. It was a lot more that the nine silver medals, three gold, and one bronze medal. It was a lot more than two Pan Am Team nominations. It was a lot more than four of my athletes walking away as Top 15 or higher in the country overall.

It was the way that we are a family. It was watching those young men and women grow up with their successes and defeats. That’s the key! At the end of the day, we aren’t curing cancer, but I can affect the lives of the people that I coach. This weekend, Tracy Black, the mother of my amazing athlete Hannah told me that my athletes light up when I walk in the room. This compliment absolutely made my day. I love them so much, and to think that the feeling is returned is an amazing blessing.

I know that a lot of coaches only look at the business side of running a team. That’s just not me man! I can’t do it! Call me soft or whatever you want, but I am going to love each and every athlete that comes under my tutelage. It’s just who I am, and I think that is the secret to my success.

These athletes are gravitating towards me because they know that I want what is best for them. I am finding that trait to be rare in athletics, and even more rare in the world of weightlifting. I think that is a sad ordeal, and I wish that I could convince coaches to put their athletes first.

It’s a little easier for me because I have been successful as an athlete myself. I am not trying to live through the lives of my athletes. I am trying to help them become more successful than I ever was without making some of the major mistakes that I did. I just want to make their paths a little less messy.

If you are a young and aspiring coach, I recommend taking a good look in the mirror. If you are not in coaching to make the lives of your athletes better, then I suggest finding a different profession. Coaches have way too much influence on their athletes for the coaches not to be in it for the right reason.

It is also important to know what makes each of your athletes tick. All of my athletes are totally different. Let me go through them, so you can see. Matt Wininger is my 14-year-old phenom. He is now ranked 11th overall in the youth category. He is young, and he has the tendency to get super nervous at a meet. The key with him is to joke around and keep him mind off the meet. Grayson is a member of the Mash Mafia Online Team. I wish that she would move to the Compound, but for now I love coaching her online. The key with her is letting her know that everything is under control. I want her to be confident that all she has to do is lift. The other key is to be totally confident in all decisions because she can be quick to second guess herself.

Ashley is a member of my Eat & Lift What You Want Team. She responds well to verbal cues even at a meet. Most people need things kept simple, but she is very responsive to coaching. The key is to keep these coaching commands simple, so that they are easily processed.


Dylan is one of the Mash Mafia OGs, and he is now the newest member of Team MDUSA with me. He is best left to himself once things get under way. Simple body gestures are about all the commands that I give him. The key is to keep warm ups running smoothly, encourage him before lifts, and run the meet smoothly. I just try to keeps things smooth, so he doesn’t have to sweat a thing. Simple, smooth, and encouraging is the key!

Hannah Black is simply one of my true pleasures to coach. We bonded right away, and that bond continues to grow. With Hannah, I try to keep her smiling. I also try to remind her of a couple of simple technique points that she needs to focus on. I also remind her over and over that she is a true player, and I let her know that I 100% believe in her. For some reason, she responds well when she feels that confidence radiate from my pores.


Cooper Hanson is so special to me. I can’t begin to tell you what this kid means to me. He moved all the way from Alaska just to be coached by me, and I would say that the move has paid off big for him. Cooper set a PR Snatch and Total at the Junior Nationals. The key with him is simply having fun. We joke around almost the entire time until it is time to take stage. We simply pretend that it is just another day in the gym.

Braden was my last athlete to compete, and it was probably the most exciting to watch. He missed his second clean & jerk, and he needed his last attempt to earn silver overall. Braden is so talented, but he lacks confidence at times. He was sitting in a chair with his head down, and I exploded on him. He simply needed a can of Pissed of Trav, and he got it. I threw a chair, and I challenged him to step up and be a gamer. He rose to the occasion, and stuck that final Clean & Jerk to earn silver in the clean & jerks and overall. It was simply a beautiful ending to a beautiful weekend.

Hopefully you see in all of this that a great coach knows his athletes up one side and down the other. I can’t yell and Matt, and I can’t joke around with Braden. I have to know as their coach what makes them tick. To be able to do this, a coach must love each of their athletes.

Loving your athletes is the real moral of the story!

Look guys join our online Mash Mafia Team! We are just a bunch of athletes wanting to reach our own specific goals. Some of these guys and gals are weightlifters, powerlifters, CrossFitters, and some are just trying to get jacked. Go to

If you want to join the best Online Teams in America, Click on the Links Below:

Eat & Lift What You Want

Mash Mafia Online Team

Online Coaching with Coach Mash

My Learn 2 Lift Seminar Series kicks off again in March. I will be at Obsessive CrossFit Disorder in Kissimmee, FL March 28-29. Go to to sign up!

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