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IMGCA Article - The Mental Game of Coaching


The Top Ten Core Coaching Principles
To Win The Mental Game Of Coaching

Bill Cole, MS, MA

"Life is a succession of lessons, which must be lived to be understood."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

"We cannot seek or attain health, wealth, learning, justice or kindness in general. Action is always specific, concrete, individualized, unique."
--Benjamin Jowett

What are the core principles of great coaching? What does good coaching look like? How does a highly effective coach operate with a client? How does a coach help a client get the most out of themselves?

These answers depend on the coach, the client, the venue, the coaching situation and other factors, but as a starting point, let's take a look at the core features that all good coaches have in common.

The Top Ten Ways Excellent Coaches Work

Here is what you can do as a coach to facilitate excellent progress in your clients.

1. Create a safe place for clients to be and to explore themselves.

2. Listen, probe, intuit, have dialogue, search for truth and meaning.

3. Increase the awareness of your clients and their situation.

4. Uncover client goals, desires and hopes, with time lines.

5. Explore possibilities and avenues to these potentialities.

6. Create systems and processes to translate client desires into regular actions for success.

7. Be a model of how your coaching displays your life philosophies and ways in the world. 8. Be unconditionally accepting and supportive of clients.

9. Align client values with their goals and their style in the world.

10. Be a broad, deep, potent resource for clients in every way. Coaching is about a relationship, not about techniques.

Coaching is about trust, integrity and honesty, not about glib directives. Coaching is about the client's needs and wants, not about forwarding the coach's agenda. Coaching is about creative exploration of possibilities, not structuring predetermined systems and pathways. Coaching is about nuanced, detailed communication, not blanket, quick homilies and tips. Coaching is about creating a big vision, not just about fixing problems. Coaching is about evolution and expansion, not just day to day living.

Coaching is about all this and more.

"Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being."

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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