1. What is your niche?
To state it simply, I work with athletes and sports coaches to help them improve their performance. This includes mental skills coaching, such as mentally rehearsing certain moves or learning to manage emotions during a competition, for example. Life balance is another important aspect for both athletes and coaches.
2. What made you decide on your niche?
I felt I was drifting a bit with my coaching practice, so on New Year’s Eve I took a look at what I really love doing to see whether I could somehow weave that passion into my coaching. I’ve been a long distance runner for 20 years and know a lot about the elation you feel when you achieve a certain time or distance, but also about the obstacles that could keep you on the sofa if you aren’t mindful of them. Knowing that elite sports have long had mental coaches (as well as sports coaches) on their teams, I thought that there might be a market for amateur sports people as well, and here I am.
3. Why are you passionate about your niche?
I love sports and I love clients who truly want to achieve something, whether it’s a 5k run or a marathon. It’s a pleasure to work with people who are motivated and ready to try things out. In sports people seem to accept quite readily that the mind has considerable power over their performance and are curious about how to harness it for themselves. Mental coaching in sports is also very varied, which I really enjoy; I’ve recently given a presentation to a number of tennis coaches on Life Balance, as well as having completed a workshop with some marathon runners on Mental Toughness. Finally, I find it hugely interesting how someone’s performance in sports is connected to their other life areas. Sometimes, this means that in order to perform better, the client might have to sort out their relationships at home first, which may not be immediately obvious.
4. What sorts of challenges do you help people solve?
Often clients are quite clear about what they want: e.g. run faster, hit a ball more precisely, or increase their motivation. Getting there is not always straight forward but finding and dealing with the crux of the matter is where I can help. Some athletes have to overcome a belief that they can’t really do what they are aiming for, some find they don’t have enough family support to feel they can spend a lot of time training. Some have negative reactions to unforeseen events, which are hampering their performance. Both athletes and coaches run the risk of burning out as they are under a lot of pressure. Sometimes clients fall out of love with their sport because they always want to win, and when they don’t, they think they are failing. Helping clients overcome these sorts of obstacles is one of the big pleasures of coaching for me.
5. What benefits do you see your clients get from coaching?
Clients definitely report higher levels of awareness of what makes them feel good and empowered around their sport, and what holds them back. They become more attuned to the triggers that cause negative reactions and are able to deal with the emotions before they take over. This leaves them free to focus better during training and competitions, and as the quality of their performance increases, so does their confidence. My clients also plan more effectively and gain control over their schedules. Being generally more proactive, they have more time and communicate better, so fraught relationships improve. Ultimately, all these benefits lead to better performance.
6. Where do you find your clients?
I contact sports clubs and have a wide network of sporty friends and acquaintances. I have a room in a clinic that offers osteopathy, sports massage and therapy, among others, so I get the occasional referral.
7. How do you market yourself?
I make appointments to meet with club owners/managers and tailor my services around their concerns. I advertise on their notice boards. I like talking to people, so I network. So far, I can rely on local business and word of mouth, which works well around my young family.
8. What other services do you offer?
As mentioned earlier, I also offer workshops and give presentations. I’m thinking about offering a service for the parents of talented children and for teenagers.
9. Where would you like to go from here?
When both my children are in full-time school, and as I gain experience, I would love to do a Master NLP course that specialises in sports coaching. In the long term, working with regional or even national teams and athletes would be amazing.
Do you have a coaching niche that you would like to share? Join the discussion on our Facebook page to let us know.
The Coaching Academy was established in 1999, and is now the world's largest coaching school.
In that time we have trained over 8,000 people to become life coaches.
We are accredited by the International Coach Federation, and we're rated 4.8 out of 5 on Trustpilot.
We recommend many books to our students here at The Coaching Academy. Thanks to Roger Dennison for taking the time to share his thoughts on one of these books.