Mental Coach: What It Means and Why It Matters

As a life coach, I’m often asked, “Melania, what’s the difference between you and a mental coach?” Honestly, not much! But this common question highlights the confusion around it, partly due to unclear explanations from us coaches (guilty as charged). So, let’s clear things up: what exactly is a mental coach, who are they, and what do they actually do?

What is a Coach?

First, forget “mental” for a moment (we’ll get back to it soon). The term “coach” originated in sports and expanded into business and personal development in the ’80s and ’90s. A coach, including a mental coach, is a professional who uses a precise method and a strong relationship with clients to help them bridge the gap between where they are and where they want to be. Coaches assist clients in finding awareness, resources, and motivation to achieve specific goals—whether in work, career, relationships, or overall life fulfillment.

 

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Mental Coach: Some Clarifications

So, what makes a mental coach different, and why use the term “mental”? When someone becomes a certified coach, their training is the same as their peers’. The distinction lies in their specialization, which is aligned with their passions or expertise. 

The term “mental” refers to those coaches who work in sports and corporate performance, using a psycho-educational model to develop the mental and psychological aspects of performance. So, a mental coach helps athletes, performers, and professionals enhance their focus, determination, and confidence in all situations. It’s mental training alongside physical training.

Sports Mental Coach: A Path to Success

Scientific evidence supports that psychological skills like focus, determination, and self-confidence can be learned and developed, which is crucial in sports performance. Research shows that top-performing Olympians and professionals who win more medals and earn higher rewards have more developed psychological skills than their peers. This is where the mental coach comes in, working closely with athletes to boost their performance.

Take Nicoletta Romanazzi, for example, the Italian mental coach who famously guided Olympic champion Marcel Jacobs to his stunning victories in the 100-meter and 4×100-meter relay at the Tokyo 2020 Games. Another renowned mental coach is Stefano Massari, who has worked with successful clients like Matteo Berrettini, the only Italian tennis player to reach a Wimbledon final.

 

Becoming a Mental Coach

To become a mental coach, you need to follow a professional path. Many call themselves “coaches,” but not all have the credentials (beware of the “gray areas” in this profession). I underwent a training program recognized by the International Coaching Federation to define my career as a coach. Anyone aspiring to be a mental coach (or life coach, business coach, etc.) should do the same.

I suggest choosing accredited academies and courses at the national and international levels. Afterward, select a mental coaching course that provides specific, in-depth training aligned with your career goals.

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