What Are The Best Ways To Practice Coaching?

So you want to become an amazingly effective coach. There’s only one way to get there – practice! The trick is in practicing the right things. I’ll show you the best ways to practice coaching. 

Coaching is a skill. Actually, it’s a set of skills all used at the same time. Learning to coach effectively is like learning any skill, you’ve got to practice.

The hard part is you’ve got to practice the right things. If you practice mistakes, those mistakes will become habits. Bad habits. Difficult to break habits.

Blues guitarist Howard Roberts is referred to as “The Jazz Master” due to his unsurpassed skill on the guitar. His secret was to never practice a mistake. The more you practice in the correct way, the better you’ll become. But if you practice a mistake you’ll ingrain that mistake into your behavior.

A hundred hours spent practicing coaching is worse than not coaching at all, if you’re practicing mistakes.

The Best Ways To Practice Coaching

Practicing the right things is the way to improve your coaching skills. Here are 6 ways to practice coaching while making sure you’re practicing the right things.

  1. Get interactive coaching instruction. Start with specialized “live” instruction, including examples to model after and observed feedback of your coaching. Instruction needs to be live, interactive, and in the moment. You can’t learn to coach from a watching a video, reading a book, listening to a webinar, working through an online course, or sitting in an auditorium with 200 others. More on this at the 3 essential practices of effective coaching training.
  2. Frequent coaching conversations with others. It’s essential to coach people. Using coaching skills here and there in your other leadership roles won’t give you the practice you need to develop in-depth coaching skills. But the opposite is true. If you learn to have effective coaching conversations, you can use individual coaching skills more easily in your other leadership roles. Research shows the most effective pattern for coaching conversations is 30-40 minutes every week or two.
  3. Coach several people concurrently. Your improvement greatly increases if you regularly coach several people during the same time period. What you learn coaching one person, you can immediately apply to the next person you coach. The shorter the delay until the next person, the better for practice and learning. Maintain 2 to 3 coaching relationships where you coach people twice a month for at least a few months. If you need some help asking people to coach with you, read: How To Find People To Coach.
  4. Listen to yourself coach. Get permission and record a coaching conversation once a month. Listen to the recording with the ICF Core Competencies in mind. Reflect on what you did, didn’t do, what you experienced, and what you’d do differently next time. I wrote the Reflective Journal For Coaches to guide you through getting the most out of this reflective process.
  5. Get feedback on your coaching. Nothing beats having a professional coach instructor listen to you coach someone else. Your trained instructor will hear what you don’t. And more importantly, he or she can offer practical suggestions for how you can improve. We offer this observed feedback process through our Coaching Excellence (Mentor Coaching) program.
  6. Keep coaching. You’ve got to coach, coach, and coach some more! As you wrap up one coaching relationship, offer to coach someone else. Early on, I thought the International Coach Federation made becoming a certified coach too difficult by requiring so many client coaching hours. Now, I can fairly predict a person’s level of coaching skill by how many client hours they’ve coached. Keep coaching!

By using these 6 ways to practice coaching, you will move forward toward becoming an amazing coach. The next step is yours. What are you willing to do to practice coaching this week?

Question: What way of practicing has worked well for you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

    Keith is an author, speaker and Professional Certified Coach. He helps on-the-go leaders multiply their impact. Keith is the author of several books including The COACH Model for Christian Leaders.

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