What to Look for in a Coach
Mental skills coaching is a relatively new and as yet unregulated field. For this reason, coaches vary in their credentials. Here are some criteria to consider as you explore your options.

  • Member of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology.

  • Member of the Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing International Association in EMDR.

  • Approved Consultant in Hypnosis by the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis.

  • Member of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science, more commonly know as ACT.
  • Psychology Background
    Although mental skills coaching is distinctly different from psychotherapy, the two disciplines require a similar understanding of the human psyche, a high capacity for empathic listening, and the ability to tailor one's methods to individual needs. Look for a coach who has an advanced degree and/or certification in psychology or counseling, coupled with extensive in-the-field experience.
    I have been a practicing psychotherapist (MA, LMFT) for over 30 years. I have spent over 20,000 hours working with individuals, couples and families in both clinic and private practice settings, and with children in schools and residential treatment centers. I am extensively trained in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), as well as in Sports Psychology, EMDR, hypnosis, and hypnotherapy.
    Sports Psychology Education
    Certification is not a requirement, but a good mental skills coach will have taken a broad range of sports psychology courses from an accredited institution.
      I have specialty training in Sports Psychology from John F. Kennedy University. My areas of focus included:
    • Performance Enhancement: Introduction to Sport Psychology
    • Best Practices in Sport Psychology
    • Psychology of Coaching
    • From Trauma to Triumph: EMDR and Advanced Performance Enhancement Strategies
    • Removing Barriers to Leadership: An EMDR Performance Enhancement Program
    • Enhancing Performance: The Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment (MAC) Approach
    • The Psychology of Injury
    • Sport Medicine
    Mental Skills Coaching Experience
    Look for a mental skills coach who has extensive experience working with a diverse mix of athletes. This will help ensure that, no matter what challenges you may be facing, he or she will have been successful already in helping others overcome them.
    I have been coaching men and women athletes of all ages and backgrounds since 2004. Over these years, I have helped golfers, tennis players, runners, climbers, equestrians, triathletes and long distance motorcyclists break through all manner of mental barriers to perform better than they ever thought possible.
    Athletic Experience
    Look for a coach who not only loves sports, but also has personal experience playing them. Hiring one with experience in your game may be helpful; but you may benefit even more from someone who has played a variety of sports, under many different challenging conditions, throughout their life.
    I have been an avid athlete since childhood. In elementary school, I played on every after-school sport team available to me. During junior high, where the options for girl's sports were extremely limited, I found an outlet for my athletics in backpacking, hiking, climbing and skiing. I returned to competitive tennis later in life, starting out on the lowest level team at my club and working my way up to one of the top teams. I also began running. I have now completed numerous half marathons; and, together with my husband, I have competed in long distance endurance motorcycle events as described in my book, Two-Up: Navigating a Relationship 1,000 Miles at a Time.
    The Winner's Mind by Lynda Lahman, MA
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