Flight Performance and Fitness

Four Principles of Effective Coaching


Authored By: Amber Verrill

CoachingTrustPrinciples of coachingStrength Coach
            Take a moment to reflect what you define as an effective coach. This can include qualities of a coach who had a particular impact on you or qualities you’ve learned through coaching. What are some qualities of coaches that have made incredible impacts on their communities?
            Aside from the fundamental knowledge required to be a competent coach; including human biomechanics and physiology for strength and conditioning coaches, sport theories and game play for sports coaches, or macronutrient and micronutrient knowledge for nutrition coaches, there is a required knowledge about people and their behaviors. The common end goal amongst the coaches listed above is to positively impact someone’s mindset and behaviors. Creating a true impact on someone’s mindset and current behavior requires the coach to possess a certain set of competencies, skills, and behaviors. Surrounding these are four principles that define effective coaching; building trust, unlocking potential, creating commitment, and executing goals. 
            Building trust is the coach’s entry fee. Trust is the pillar in which the other principles are built upon. If our athlete or client does not trust us, how can we expect them to commit to us? Trustworthy people demonstrate integrity, honesty, and sincerity repeatedly. Integrity being the most important of these qualities. Many times, coaches face clients or athletes who share things in confidence with us. Our integrity is defined by what we do with that information. It is after a coach gains the hard earned trust of an individual that a coach can get to experience their true potential.
            Individuals seek out coaching because they have a particular problem in which we hold the particular solution. Therefore, our goals as a coach are driven by the goals of the individual we are coaching. This means guiding them in finding, understanding, and growing their own potential around the goals important to them, which can be done by asking insightful questions. By asking insightful questions, coaches can gain a deeper perspective on the individuals deeply held beliefs or values, or paradigms, surrounding these goals. Oftentimes these paradigms are negative in nature and are holding our clients and athletes back from reaching their potential, or readiness and openness to accept change. A common faulty paradigm coaches hear is that setback means failure. We must challenge these faulty paradigms, despite the challenge, by creating a new lens for the individual. We can look to reframe experiences through a series of questions highlighting the positive outlooks on past experiences. Our ultimate goal for our client or athlete is to get them to think in terms of the heights of potential rather than the valleys of limitation. Now that they are fully aware of their potential, we need them to commit to their goals.
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            Commitment is internally driven. Therefore, the only thing we can do is to ask the right questions in order to drive commitment from the inside out. The three areas of questions that we focus on include defining the goal, defining howto achieve the goal, and obtaining commitment. At first, it is important that we challenge their purpose and desired benefit of the goal in order to provoke deeper thought surrounding their goal. We often encounter people who haven’t thought about WHY they want to achieve their goal. After we’ve allowed our client to tell us about their specific needs, issues, opportunities, or achievements, we will start to ask questions about HOW they believe they are going to achieve that goal. In getting an individual to advance on commitment, it is important we ask questions that allow them to anticipate any potential barriers that may hinder their achievement. If they can predict what may go wrong, they can plan an alternative route around that obstacle. Finally, we need to obtain commitment by asking questions that narrow the focus of the goal, provide next actions to be taken, and summarize how they can achieve their goals. Once we’ve asked for and received commitment from an individual, it is our task to aid them in executing their goals.

            This is the sweet spot of coaching. We get to implement our expertise to guide an individual through the execution of their goals. It is up to us to utilize our knowledge to guide our clients through methods that will work best for that person. Ultimately, our job as an advisor of potential never stops. It will always be up to us to reframe the mindset of our client or athlete when the inevitable “one-step back” happens. This requires trust from our client or athlete at all times, as they will most likely seek us out when they experience a pitfall in their mindset. By asking insightful questions, we can allow our client or athlete to reframe their mindset and therefore regain control over their actions. 

            At the end of the day, we all have our niches: be it powerlifting, nutrition, sport, finance, or life, we are all coaches. It is up to us to gain trust, challenge paradigms, seek commitment, and support execution of goals. We can be successful by showing integrity throughout the entire process. We can ask questions to provoke thought and encourage proactive behavior in order to challege current, unsuccessful paradigms of the individual. It is only after we achieve commitment, that we get to employ our specialty knowledge in guiding them past the finish line.

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