The Life Gym of Coaching Skills Training

To say that we are living in unprecedented life circumstances is an understatement. The coronavirus has impacted all of us, including all of my family, friends, and clients, no matter where in the world they live. We are all grappling with the bigger picture of what life is like now, and what life will be like in the future.

There might be a “new normal” that we have to calibrate to. Much like after the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center attacks forever changed our experience of travel in and out of the United States, and for many other countries too; post-coronavirus living may be different than pre-coronavirus living.

This blog is specifically aimed at coaches, and many of those that I mentor toward their next ICF credential, usually MCC and PCC skill level.

Many of my mentoring clients have had significantly changed work circumstances occur. Some have experienced more time because their coaching and other work has been put on hold for now. While others are super busy supporting the transfer of their training programs and coaching engagements to being fully virtual online. Especially the Zoom web conference platform, has made web conferencing financially accessible, and easy to use, across the world. I’ve used zoom for the past 3+ years for all my client work, and now the rest of the world gets to know about this fantastic web conferencing platform. Zoom are also learning and adapting each week, patching security and privacy issues, and upgrading their services.

How can I improve my coaching skills if I don’t have coaching clients right now?

No matter what your life circumstances are, there is always an opportunity to improve your coaching skills, which at their essence are skills for better communication.

When a mentoring client says to me they don’t have any clients to practice their upgraded coaching skills with, I understand. Yet that’s the last place to practice at any time. Coaching sessions are where you bring your skills together in one place. It is the time outside of coaching sessions where practice occurs.

High performance athletes practice constantly so that when they play a game, they are ready. Whether they are a tennis player such as Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Serena Williams or Ashleigh Barty, they are all use to the idea of practice, practice, practice. Even being the best in the world doesn’t stop them from practicing every day. They increase their aerobic capacity, their strength training, their skills training, their emotional/mental training so they don’t ‘beat’ themselves with lack of emotional control in the game.

The same amount of practice occurs with football players, basketball players; every single type of professional sports athlete. Right now with the home lockdown orders, social media shows innovative ways that athletes are finding to keep practicing with what they have available to them.

If you search on Instagram for Novak Djokovic, Coco Gauff, Simone Biles, Cristiano Ronaldo, and the tennis players I mentioned earlier in this article. All of them are finding fun and innovative ways to practice their skills at home, using whatever equipment they can find. And keeping emotionally centered while their kids climb all over them while doing everything! I’ve seen some people with dogs on their back while doing push-ups, or their kids. There are plenty of smiles to be found 😊.

Over the weekend, I saw on television Spelling Bee competitions from years past. All of those kids who participated had practiced, practiced, and practiced. I wish there had been interviews with some of the winners from a decade ago, to hear what life is like for them now. And how that habit of practice for Spelling Bee competitions has trained them for today’s life circumstances.

In what ways can coaches continue practice their coaching skills?

Every single interaction with a family member is an opportunity to be ‘in the gym’ with your coaching skills.

Taking the Updated Core Competency Model for Core Competency #6: “Listens Actively.”Here is the definition; just substitute “family member,” for “client.”

Definition: Focuses on what the client is and is not saying to fully understand what is being communicated in the context of the client systems and to support client self-expression.

Here are the six sub-points for Listens Actively. Every single one of these can be practiced right now, at home, with family. Again, substitute “family member,” for “client.”

  1. Considers the client’s context, identity, environment, experiences, values and beliefs to enhance understanding of what the client is communicating
  2. Reflects or summarizes what the client communicated to ensure clarity and understanding
  3. Recognizes and inquires when there is more to what the client is communicating
  4. Notices, acknowledges and explores the client’s emotions, energy shifts, non-verbal cues or other behaviors
  5. Integrates the client’s words, tone of voice and body language to determine the full meaning of what is being communicated
  6. Notices trends in the client’s behaviors and emotions across sessions to discern themes and patterns

In my Target Approach Model to simplifying understanding of the ICF Core Competencies, “Coaching Presence” (or “Maintains Presence” in the Updated Core Competency Model) is the most important core competency. This is because what we are present to and believe about being a successful, competent coach, informs what we are present to in clients.

Just for fun, here’s the Updated Core Competency #5: “Maintains Presence” with its six sub-points. Again, substitute “family member” for “client.”

Definition: Is fully conscious and present with the client, employing a style that is open, flexible, grounded and confident.

  1. Remains focused, observant, empathetic and responsive to the client
  2. Demonstrates curiosity during the coaching process (observing family members!)
  3. Manages one’s emotions to stay present with the client
  4. Demonstrates confidence in working with strong client emotions during the coaching process
  5. Is comfortable working in a space of not knowing (about the family member!)
  6. Creates or allows space for silence, pause or reflection (for the family member!)

In Closing….

This is an amazing opportunity to practice and upgrade your coaching skills, with family as your practice gym.

You are not conducting a coaching session with family members; you are simply communicating in ways that demonstrate being a present human being. If your family members feel the change in your communication style, explain to them you are on the “in the gym” practicing, taking this opportunity to be better at listening and responding to them, so that when client work is fully occurring again, you’ll be ready to get out of the gym and straight into the “game.”


Do you have time right now to focus on your own coaching skills upgrades?

Are you wanting to be ready to submit for your next ICF credential?

Two Mentor Coaching Group Programs are now open on a first registered and paid basis. Maximum of 6-10 participants per group.

Group #43 for PCC/ACC commencing May 12, 2020 (6 places open)  

Group #44 for MCC skill level preparation – SOLD OUT!

Group #45 for MCC skill level preparation commencing June 10, 2020

(added due to stay-at-home demand)


Begin your mentoring early, as it can take 3-6 months or more to prepare, before you are ready to apply to the ICF. Then 1-4 months for ICF process.

Member resources available once 6 people registered and paid.  

I offer a rich, experiential mentor coaching group and individual program that has many exclusive offerings for our participants. You can read some testimonials here

I have been trained by the ICF to assess using the PCC Markers. I also regularly assess for the ICF MCC and ACC credentials.

One of the unique offerings is an extensive library of MCC, PCC and ACC coaching sessions for participants to listen to, evaluate, debrief, and learn from, along with The Target Approach to demystifying the ICF core competencies. These are incredibly valuable learning tools, and will accelerate your understanding of competency distinctions.

Carly has created products to more deeply understand Establishing the Coaching Agreement and Ten Characteristics of MCC Skill Level.

Here’s where you’ll find more about The Mentor Coaching Group