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IMGCA Article - The Mental Game of Coaching


The Top 15 Characteristics Of Excellent Coaches

Winning The Mental Game Of Coaching

Bill Cole, MS, MA

What makes for an excellent coach? What personal qualities do top coaches possess that separate them from the good coach? Is it more the training or the inner qualities? Is it more coaching technique or the artistry? Is it more coaching knowledge or its application? Is it more natural talent for helping people or cultivated abilities? Is it insightful analysis of people or an abiding presence with them?

There probably is no one single attribute that all excellent coaches possess. Top flight coaches can be comprised of many stripes and can come from many places, but they all connect with their charges, they know how to make changes with them and they know how to get results. Bottom line, they get the work done.

This is my own personal list of what I like to see in coaches. Over my 15 years as a college educator I trained many, many future teachers and coaches. I was master teacher to many of them. I mentor many coaches on a private basis now. Probably the major qualities I saw that distinguished the great from the very good were these three:

  • They cared deeply about people.
  • They had incredibly high personal standards and ambitions.
  • They had a high level of self-knowledge.

Those three are at least a wonderful starting point. Now on to the other 15 attributes of top-notch coaches. Top coaches possess many of these:

  1. Exquisite self awareness.
  2. High emotional intelligence.
  3. Broad vision with focus on important details.
  4. Nuanced, crisp, superb communication.
  5. Highest regard, caring and respect for clients.
  6. Creative, innovative learner and developer of custom coaching methodologies.
  7. Perceptive, intuitive, curious and inquiring.
  8. Quick study with capacity for deep and wide learning.
  9. Student of coaching and other disciplines that support helping others.
  10. Sincere interest in clients and desire to help.
  11. Continuous learner of themselves and their experiences.
  12. See coaching as a two way interchange of energies and learnings.
  13. Humble, open, nurturing and grateful to the world.
  14. View coaching as a calling, an art and a discipline.
  15. Walking the talk and modeling a good life for their clients.

Expert coaches work on themselves unceasingly. They are open to new ideas and philosophies. They study coaching seriously and take coaching seriously. They care about the person across from them.

That's what it's all about anyhow, isn't it? Helping people?

To learn more about how coach training can help you become a better change agent, visit Bill Cole, MS, MA, the Mental Game Coach™ at

Copyright © Bill Cole, MS, MA 2005, 2008 All rights reserved.

This article covers only one small part of the mental game. A complete mental training program includes motivation and goal-setting, pre-event mental preparation, post-event review and analysis, mental strengthening, self-regulation training, breath control training, motor skill training, mental rehearsal, concentration training, pressure-proofing, communication training, confidence-building, breaking through mental barriers, slump prevention, mental toughness training, flow training, relaxation training, momentum training, psych-out proofing and media training.

For a comprehensive overview of your mental abilities you need an assessment instrument that identifies your complete mental strengths and weaknesses. For a free, easy-to-take 65-item sport psychology assessment tool you can score right on the spot, visit This assessment gives you a quick snapshot of your strengths and weaknesses in your mental game. You can use this as a guide in creating your own mental training program, or as the basis for a program you undertake with Bill Cole, MS, MA to improve your mental game. This assessment would be an excellent first step to help you get the big picture about your mental game.

Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority on peak performance, mental toughness and coaching, is founder and President of the International Mental Game Coaching Association, Bill is also founder and CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps organizations and professionals achieve more success in business, life and sports. He is a multiple Hall of Fame honoree, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published book author and articles author, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league pro sports, big-time college athletics and corporate America. For a free, extensive article archive, or for questions and comments visit him at

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