Those who are passionate about sports know that athletes don’t achieve victories solely through their own efforts. Many have faced difficult moments, tensions, injuries, and the fear of an abrupt end to their careers. The willpower that sustained them was crucial, but equally important was the support of coaches, athletic trainers, family, and increasingly, mental coaches.
What is a mental coach?
A mental coach is someone who helps train the mind to better achieve goals, ultimately improving the quality of our lives. This isn’t limited to sporting goals; it extends to any objectives we might aim to achieve in life. The mental coach deals with mental blockages and potential distractions to help individuals meet their goals. They are beneficial during times of change, when facing challenges, improving performance, and enhancing self-esteem, among other things. A core belief held by every mental coach is that everyone has the inherent potential to reach their own goals; the coach’s role is to help unlock these potentials.
What a mental coach is not
A mental coach is not a medical doctor and does not treat pathological conditions. They also don’t prescribe behaviours or offer off-the-shelf solutions. Rather, they assist in finding methods most suitable for each individual’s specific circumstances.
Characteristics of a mental coach
As a relatively new profession, the path to becoming a mental coach isn’t clearly defined. The ability to empathise with clients, adapt communication styles, and focus on each individual’s specific goals are some of the key skills. Knowing when a coaching intervention is or isn’t helpful is also critical.
Why should you contact a mental coach?
The underlying reason people seek out a mental coach is often a lack of confidence in their own abilities to reach goals. Factors such as a challenging environment, personal insecurities, and a lack of focus contribute to this. First, it’s important to distinguish between desires and goals; a desire becomes a goal only when a concrete action plan is in place.
How to become your own mental coach
Is it necessary to hire a mental coach, or can you coach yourself? The answer is both yes and no. A skilled mental coach isn’t created solely from theory but from firsthand practice. However, it’s possible to be your own mental coach, although it may take longer. Self-confidence, which is neither purely innate nor exclusively positive, plays a key role. Learning to identify objectives clearly, harnessing past successes for confidence, and maintaining motivation are essential steps.
A mental coach isn’t a magician. Building self-confidence and achieving goals can be done independently, although perhaps at a slower pace. In any case, motivation is the determining factor; without it, any goal will seem distant and difficult to achieve.
Annalisa Balestrieri holds a master’s degree in modern literature, with a psycho-pedagogical specialisation, from the State University of Milan.