Sports Psychology Coaching

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The Top 15 Characteristics Of Excellent Coaches

Winning The Mental Game Of Coaching


Bill Cole, MS, MA
The Mental Game Coach™
Silicon Valley, California


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 www.SportsPsychologyCoaching.com

400 words

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


Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority on sports psychology, peak performance, mental toughness and coaching, is founder and CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps sports teams and individuals achieve more success. He is also the Founder and President of the International Mental Game Coaching Association, an organization dedicated to advancing the research, development, professionalism and growth of mental game coaching worldwide. He is a multiple Hall-Of-Fame honoree as an athlete, coach and school alumnus, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published author of books and articles, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league pro sports and big-time college athletics.


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Characteristics of excellent coaches


Bill Cole, MS, MA
Sports Psychology Coaching

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