The trust journey

The second main focus in Confidence Centred Coaching is the confidence that the person being coached has in their coach – how this can be nurtured; what to expect of each other and boundaries to set; and what to do when things don’t go right.  In Confidence Centred Coaching this is a journey in trustmutual respect and shared learning.

This part of the programme is mainly delivered through one to one mentoring of coaches, with the possibility of more intensive courses to follow.

dip into the detail

Trust is a highly personal, powerful, precious state to aspire to - not something to be simply conjured up by applying tips and tricks.  Nor is it something that is owed, whatever the standing and experience of the coach or how well intentioned they are.  In Confidence Centred Coaching, whilst trust is positioned as the ideal state to get to in our coaching relationship, it is not static, instead always needing to be worked on and open new to new directions and challenges.

Confidence in us the coach can be in two distinct contexts: one for those of us coaching in clubs and other environments where we deliver to groups; and the other, for those of us developing our private one to one coaching practice where we seek to develop a coaching relationship with each separate individual.

Group coaching:

So much of confidence in the coach at group sessions comes from the coach’s own self-confidence and the practices covered in the first learning zone.  As we saw, everything starts with self-awareness and being true to yourself.  How we create an assured space also comes into its own.

There is also a critical element of setting an expectation of mutual respect.  The leading Sports Psychologist Michael Gervais talks of holding the person in front of us in the highest regard as fundamental to the art of coaching.  We explore this further in the workshops along with other practical steps in setting an expectation of respect for the coach.

One to one coaching:

Confidence and trust in the coach come into their own in the one to one relationships we form with those who come to us for individual coaching.  This can be a journey – most likely with twists and turns rather than a straightforward, upward path.   Whilst every client is unique and every relationship different, there can be something of a pattern.

The journey often seems to start with what one might think of as a calculative scepticism.  The person looking to be coached comes with doubts and unease, weighing up what they want with what (they largely guess) might be involved, as if making an uneasy calculation.  “I'm interested - but will it be worth it? How can I be sure I'll gain?"  Maybe "what's to lose?"

As the relationship gets underway, with its initial scepticism and wariness, the next step can be characterised as more of a predictive trial.  As our athlete gives the new approach a go and starts to feel the benefits, their thinking can move to one of “I followed the coach’s advice and feel better, so even though its different, I'll keep going for now and see what happens.”

The third step in the journey is really the ideal we want to get to – an easy bond of trust.  The scepticism and doubting is not entirely gone but has much more of an inquisitive, questioning form.  The focus turns from questioning the coach’s ability to more of a quest to learn together and see what can be achieved.

Shared Learning, Boundaries and Expectations:


In Confidence Centred Coaching the goal is never a “do as I say” submissive obedience, that if the coach says to do something it must be followed.  The most fruitful and rewarding coaching relationships are those in which both the person being coached and the coach are engaged in learning and discovering together – there’s a willingness to experiment, to question and see what works best.

This ideal state, however, is never fixed and permanent.  Trust hard earned can be easily broken.  A common story amongst coaches is of putting a great deal of themselves, their energy and time into the relationship, only for an athlete to switch to another coach, typically without explanation.  Knowing and setting out one's boundaries and also being aware of our athletes’ expectations and motivations are key here.  Brené Brown makes boundaries the first in her list of key elements in trust – which serves as a useful template for exploring what to focus on and what to do if things go wrong.

Finally, having a questioning eye on our athletes’ motivations and interests in teaming up with a coach can help set clearer boundaries and expectations for ourselves.  As stated above, every coaching relationship is different and each person comes with their own unique mix of motivations, ambitions and past.  These can be safely and confidentially explored in the mentoring support on offer and possibly, at a later stage, in the fuller Confidence Centred Coaching programme under development.

Where do we want to get to:

  • relationships of easy, high mutual respect
  • trusting inquisitiveness
  • learning together

At this stage one to one, confidential mentoring is offered to coaches who wish to explore this aspect of their practice - use the contact form here to get in touch.