Coaching Basics (2024) – 9 Important Facts

Thinking of becoming a coach? Or maybe hiring one? This checklist of coaching basics should help you discover what to expect. 

As a certified life coach, I like to make sure my clients understand these coaching basics. 

If you’re considering a career in life coaching, I’d urge you to understand these basics too. 

Let’s dive right into it.

Coaching Basics
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1. What Is The Best Definition Of Coaching?

The most widely-used definition of coaching was cultivated by the International Coach Federation (ICF).

It defines coaching as: partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.

The ICF is the main regulatory body which sets standards for coaching across the world, so it makes sense to use this definition.  

Related: ICF Definition Of Coaching

2. What Are The Types Of Coaching?

There are dozens of types of coaches that you can choose to hire, or to become.

There are life coaches, empowerment coaches, executive coaches, leadership coaches or relationship coaches.   

For more, see my list of 31 types of coaches.

It’s important to understand that all these types of coaches will follow a similar methodology, based on a specific curriculum and code of ethics if they are ICF-certified. 

(It’s highly recommended to gain an ICF certification if you want to become a coach, and to only consider hiring an ICF-certified coach.) 

3. What Can You Expect From Coaching?

A coach will never tell their clients what to do. That’s an important fact that separates coaching for consulting or training, for example.

It’s the job of the clients to set their own agenda, based on goals that are personally meaningful to them.

A coach will help them understand their own definition of success, and lead them along the path to reach it. 

They will do this by: 

  • asking questions which foster a shift in the client’s perspective;
  • acting as a sounding board to help clients better understand their thought process; 
  • providing assessments and observations that help the client foster awareness of their situation;
  • championing their clients and encouraging them to realize their potential;
  • challenging a client’s blind spots and helping them to see opportunities ahead of them;
  • holding clients accountable to meet the goals they set themselves. 

4. How Is Coaching Delivered?

Basics Of Coaching
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You can invest in face-to-face or online coaching. Indeed, online coaching has grown massively in recent years, thanks to advances in video chat technology.

Most coaches will offer potential clients a free initial consultation, so they can address what to expect from their coaching services. On this call, clients will be able to ask questions about the coaching services, and the coach can discover what challenges the client is facing.

Coaches and clients can also use this call to agree on the cost, length and frequency of subsequent coaching calls. Most calls last between 45 minutes and one hour.   

As well as delivering helpful insights on these calls, a coach will help the client agree on actions to take in between calls. They may also give you access to useful resources such as articles, books, videos or assessments.

5. How Long Does Coaching Typically Last?   

Most coaches charge clients on a rolling basis, meaning they’ll either pay per coaching call, per week or per month with no obligation to continue further into the future. Some coaches may offer discounts for block bookings. 

The amount of time that clients want to continue working with a coach depends on their individual goals. 

The ICF suggests that some clients will be able to achieve their goals within three to six months worth of coaching. 

Of course, it’s common for clients to set new goals and decide to keep working with their coach. 

6. How To Become A Certified Life Coach

Technically, you don’t need any form of qualification to launch a life coaching practice. You could set up a website and start pitching your services today. 

However, anyone who spends five minutes researching how to choose the best life coach will know its best to work with an ICF-certified professional. 

The ICF is well-known across the world for issuing the most intense and detailed coaching certifications.

So, any coach who has this certification can be trusted to do a great job with their clients. 

To get this certification, coaches must complete a training program which has been certified by the ICF. They must then apply directly to the ICF and pay a one-off fee for their certificate. Only then can they advertise themselves as an ICF-certified coach. 

There are three levels of certification you can apply for, depending on your level of experience. 

From the least experienced to the most experienced, these are: Associate Certified Coach (ACC), Professional Certified Coach (PCC) and Master Certified Coach (MCC).

These qualifications will all need to be renewed after three years, and coaches will need to have completed a specific amount of monitored coaching hours to be eligible for this renewal.

For more information about the best coach training program, check out my list of 

Best Life Coach Certifications Online ICF Accredited.

Related: How To Become a Life Coach – 6 Easy Steps

7. What Skills Are Needed To Become A Great Coach?

Become A Great Coach
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There are a number of good coaching skills required to become a success in this field. Here are some of the most crucial.

  • A deep understanding of human psychology. Great coaches will learn to understand the patterns of human behaviour and use this to help clients create lasting change within their lives.
  • Deep listening. Active listening is one of the most crucial skills for coaches. When coaches learn to actively listen, this will help them see beyond the words of their clients and understand what they are really feeling. 
  • Communication. Of course, it’s essential for coaches to be able to communicate their ideas clearly, with a keen eye on the language they use and how their words are being interpreted by clients.       
  • Rapport-building. This is crucial for a coach to foster trust within their clients. Without this, they may find it difficult to convince anyone to hire them or continue working with them for a long time.  
  • Confidence. Perhaps the most important of all coaching skills. Coaches will often be working with clients who lack confidence in themselves. It’s going to be difficult for coaches to inspire these clients to be more confident unless they can show great confidence in their own ideas and the way they communicate.
  • Time management. You’ll need to focus on many things from helping clients to marketing your practice.     

You’ll develop these good coaching skills and other coaching basics at an expert level within any ICF-accredited coach training program. 

8. What Is A Typical Life Coach Salary?

A coach is essentially a business owner, meaning they are free to charge whatever they want for delivery of their services.

The amount that clients will be willing to pay will depend on a coach’s experience, qualifications, reputation and talent. 

With that said, studies suggest that coaches can expect to earn between $40,000 and $60,000 per year. 

Related: Online Life Coach Salary – A Comprehensive Guide

9. What Can Coaches Expect To Gain From Coaching?

Coaches Expect To Gain From Coaching
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Life coaching is becoming a popular career choice, but why is that? What is it that motivates people to learn these skills and start their own life coaching business?

Here are some common answers I’ve heard:

  • It’s a fulfilling career choice. It’s rewarding to help people overcome their challenges and make a positive change to their lives for the better.
  • You develop as a person. When you spend so much time listening to others and helping them overcome personal challenges, it helps you develop into a stronger person too.
  • Strong relationships with clients. Coaches tend to build close relationships with their clients, the longer they work with them. It’s common to build strong relationships with others in the life coaching community too. 
  • A location-independent job. Life coaching can be your key out of the rat race. With the growth in video coaching, you can live out this career anyway from Boston to Bali. That’s a huge positive to many people stuck commuting to a job they hate every day.  
  • A potentially high income. The study above listed the average earnings of coaches in all fields. If you have the talent and work ethic to make it to the top of your field, you could successfully charge $200-$300 per hour or even more. The sky’s the limit for what you can achieve. 

Related: Online Life Coach: The Complete Guide

Any Questions About These Coaching Basics?

Thanks for reading my checklist of coaching basics. I hope these insights helped you learn more about whether you’d find coaching valuable.

If you have any questions about these coaching basics, ask them in the comments form below. 

Have I inspired you to change careers and launch your own coach practice, or to work with a coach? Let me know about that too!

I’ll do my best to address every comment I receive.

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About The Author

Bijan Kholghi is a certified life coach with the Milton Erickson Institute Heidelberg (Germany). He helps clients and couples reach breakthroughs in their lives by changing subconscious patterns. His solution-oriented approach is based on Systemic- and Hypnotherapy.