This post was originally published a year ago on The Socratic Forum. The things elite coaches do, and the books they read, can be extremely helpful to coaches and aspiring coaches alike. In this post, I list six things elite coaches do, and six books that can help you get there.

Coaches are the people who get you through each practice, game, and season. They pour their blood, sweat, and tears into every aspect of their job. Yet if too many coaches are purely technicians – if they’re simply trying to get the Xs to equal the Os and never think for themselves – how can they help players reach their highest potential? Succeeding at your career is not simply about what you know, but also what you can teach. Success in sports and life is not only about what you know, but also about what you can teach. Knowing is not enough. You must also be able to teach.

Today we’re going to talk about how elite athletes think (and train their mind), how these athletes think, how they think about their coach (and hire them) and then we’re going to provide you with 6 books that will help you achieve the same results.

Take your profession to the next level – quickly — by imitating great instructors. How? Think beyond the box while you’re reading.

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If you’re anything like me, you’re always looking for new ideas to boost your motivation and help you advance your coaching profession.

You want to create a name for yourself in the health and fitness industry by giving your customers more than they asked for and delivering results that make their friends remark, “Wow, who’s your trainer?”

I’m constantly searching for methods to educate and motivate myself to be better (and better, and better) at what I do as a fitness and nutrition coach.

But I’m not always up for a costly weekend course that needs me to mingle with the rich and famous at a posh hotel. Okay, I’m not interested in that.

As a result, I seek inspiration and knowledge in a variety of areas, as well as killer, get-you-to-the-top ideas. And I usually discover them in literature.

As a follow-up to our earlier post on great coaches’ best practices, I’m sharing six additional next-level coaching concepts, as well as the books that inspired them.

Today is the best time to buy, borrow, or steal one of these books. Put everything you’ve learned to good use. You’ll be surprised at how far you’ve come in a year.

There are six (additional) things that great coaches do.

1. Elite coaches have a strong emotional connection with their clients.

Assessing customers’ diet and fitness levels, creating tailored exercise and nutrition programs, tracking habits, and measuring success requires a lot of expertise.

And getting a client to perform another push-up without making them want to murder you requires practice.

What, on the other hand, requires the greatest skill? Getting them to communicate with you.

Elite coaches don’t confine their discussions to “here’s what you need to do” (after all, lack of knowledge is rarely the main barrier to behavior change). They understand how to communicate with customers in a manner that fosters genuine human connection.

Why? It’s not simply for the sake of being fancy or unique.

Elite coaches get an understanding of why their clients desire to change in the first place by asking genuine questions. What you’ll see is that the greatest, most successful health coaching solutions are those that customers come up with on their own.

Read Edgar H. Schein’s Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling.

We’ve forgotten the skill of asking as a society that values telling. This book will assist you in recovering it so that you may enhance your coaching company by strengthening your client connections.

Humble Inquiry, written by a social and organizational psychologist, teaches you how to ask excellent questions, ones that are founded on genuine interest and a desire to assist.

You’ll be better able to assist clients get through the worst times if you foster an open environment, allowing them to persevere rather than burn out and quit.

2. Elite coaches instill a desire in their clients.

Here’s a dreadful but obvious truth: Many individuals who are just beginning out on the road to health and fitness simply believe they want it.

It’s probably something you’ve seen a million times. New customers get a sense of how difficult it will be to alter their eating habits, add 10 squats to their routine, run another mile, and reorganize their life to accommodate it all… And it turns out that they didn’t really want it after all.

Elite coaches have a way of motivating their clients to want to put in the effort in every session. They know how to elicit aspirations, desires, anxieties, and disappointments so that clients may “discover” whatever pain they’re seeking to alleviate by becoming healthy — as many times as required.

Does this seem like therapy to you? It is, in a sense. That’s why customers of top-tier trainers typically feel better after a session, and it’s how they keep clients coming back and produce unrivaled results.

Read: How to Win Friends & Influence People, by Dale Carnegie

This 80-year-old classic is one of the most popular and successful self-improvement books ever published. It will help you refine your interpersonal skills to the point where your customers will follow you wherever you go (yes, even through another horrendous set of squats).

The book contains a wealth of practical suggestions for inspiring and influencing others simply by improving one’s conversational skills. The gist: To get someone to open up, you have to start with genuine gratitude, admiration, and compassion.

To persuade and inspire a customer, you must first demonstrate why she wants to do it for herself.

3. The “competition” is aided by elite instructors.

Do you want to know a little secret? There is no such thing as competition for a top coach.

This Dr. Seuss phrase has been floating around, and I really like it:

“Today you are You, and nothing could be farther from the truth. You are the only person alive who is Youer than You.”

Elite coaches are unconcerned about what other coaches are doing because they recognize that we are all different. They understand how to utilize their uniqueness to their advantage in the workplace.

Rather of competing, concealing, and hoarding their information, top coaches form a trusted community of other wellness professionals with whom they share new ideas and assist one another in improving.

With the support of a tribe behind you, you’ll almost certainly advance your profession faster than you would without.

Why? Instead than focusing on how to develop as a coach, you have hundreds of friends and colleagues out in the field trying new ideas and determining what works best.

Assist others in your tribe in being successful, and you’ll be more likely to be successful as well.

Read Keith Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time.

Forget about “networking” and all the cheesy hand shaking and business card rummaging that entails. This book will teach you how to utilize genuine, no-nonsense relationship building to propel your coaching career to new heights.

It’s not about keeping track of the score (and settle in, because it can be months or years of relationship building before you see tangible rewards). It’s about being in touch, being visible, and doing things for others even when you don’t expect anything in return.

4. Coaches that are at the top of their game create signatures.

Elite coaches are, without a doubt, the best at what they do.

Being excellent, though, is no longer sufficient. You must be exceptional.

Elite coaches are inventive and creative in their teaching methods and concepts, and they have the agility to respond quickly to their students’ unique requirements.

As a consequence, top coaches do things that set them apart. They establish a reputation for being unique, earning the right to be mentioned — and kicking off the word-of-mouth marketing train.

Do you want your client to respond, “Oh, he’s really excellent!” when a buddy asks, “How’s your coach?” “Oh my goodness, you have GOT to meet him,” or anything like. He’s incredible!”?

Read Seth Godin’s Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable.

I was very motivated while reading this, and I believe you will be as well.

The book emphasizes the need of standing out from the crowd in order to attract attention to your goods. Clients will come if you stand out like a purple cow.

The idea is to push the boundaries of what’s possible, to experiment and see what breaks, whether you make yourself the cheapest, the most costly, the largest, the tiniest, the quickest, the slowest.

Sounds dangerous, doesn’t it? Yes, it is. But it’s not as dangerous as being average.

5. Elite coaches have a laser-like concentration (and stick with it).

It’s a misconception that you can do everything.

Elite coaches have no desire to “do it all,” which includes offering every coaching service imaginable, learning all there is to know about every current diet fad, reading every health column, and attending every seminar. They are well aware that it is useless and ineffective.

Overstretching oneself is a certain way to disappointment and failure. Instead, top-tier trainers find out what matters most to their target market and clients, and then go out and do it.

Greg McKeown’s Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less is worth reading.

What criteria do you use to determine if something is worthwhile?

“If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no,” he says.

This book will show you how to be more selective with your choices and choose your priorities, or “essentials.” You’ll discover how to acquire the discipline and approach that top coaches use to trim the fat from their careers and devote attention to just the most essential tasks.

You’ll have greater control over your job and your coaching company will thrive if you can find out how to “do less, but better.”

6. Elite coaches know how to respond to any situation.

“How did your food diary go this week?” says the narrator.

“OK.”

“Would you want to begin with weights or cardio?

(Shrug)

“How are you today?” I inquire.

Crickets.

Empowering and motivating a client who is stuck in an I-don’t-want to mindset may be excruciating.

Elite coaches have seen it all, and they know how to get through even the most adamant client objections so that each session is as productive as possible.

Read Clifton W. Mitchell’s Effective Techniques for Dealing with Highly Resistant Clients.

This very practical book provides ready-to-use methods for dealing with even the most difficult customers. You’ll discover the coaching traps to avoid (and you’ll be shocked to find that some behaviors common among coaches may be costly).

There will be no customer resistance or lengthy quiet you can’t handle after you’ve read this (and beat).

If you’re a coach or wish to be one…

It’s both an art and a science to guide clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy food and lifestyle adjustments in a manner that’s tailored to their individual body, tastes, and circumstances.

Consider the Level 1 Certification if you want to learn more about both.

We’ve all heard the old adage, you can’t teach old dogs new tricks. And while there are exceptions to the rule, for the most part, coaches and trainers are only limited by their imagination. More often than not, it takes a new approach, a new approach that understands that old dogs learn in different ways.. Read more about the essentials of sport and exercise nutrition and let us know what you think.

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