Here’s How To Become a Performance Coach in 2023

how to become a performance coach

Ever been in a situation where you see someone with immense potential, but they just can’t seem to tap into it? 

Or maybe you’ve felt that way too—so close to success, yet something’s missing.

If so, have you ever considered becoming a performance coach?

Forget the old notion that “performance coaching” is just for athletes. These days, performance coaching is everywhere—from corporate cubicles to art studios.

And it’s not just about getting past hurdles. It’s about pushing to the top of your game.

Curious? Stick around to learn:

  • What is performance coaching?
  • What does a performance coach do?
  • Do you need a performance coaching certification?
  • How much do performance coaches make?
  • How to become a performance coach

What Is Performance Coaching? 

Imagine taking the core essence of sports performance coaching and applying it to personal or professional development. Voila! That’s performance coaching.

It serves as the bridge to fill in the gap between your current and desired state. It’s not about pulling you out of despair (although it can help with that, too!). 

It’s more about fine-tuning your skills, training, mindset, and strategies.

Picture this: Sarah, a dedicated team lead, knows she’s on the path to becoming a director in her firm. She’s skilled and ambitious, but there are a few leadership techniques she struggles with.

With a coaching program and performance coach training, not only does she polish those skills, but she also discovers new strengths she never knew she had.

So, what is a performance coach? It’s someone who elevates your potential. 

Whether you’re a manager aiming for a promotion, an artist refining your craft, or just someone striving to make the most of each day, performance coaches can be the nudge in the right direction.

They’re the folks you bring in when you think, “I’m good, but I want to be great.”

What Does A Performance Coach Do?

how to be a performance coach

Okay, now that you know what performance coaching is all about, let’s see exactly what they do.

Do they get on a call in a meeting? Do they just take down notes and learn more about you? Or maybe they give you a series of tasks to challenge your current skills?

Well, the answer is yes, yes, and yes.

It can be a tricky question to answer as to what exactly high-performance coaches do since the coaching methods vary from one performance coach to another.

But here are the sure things they typically engage in as performance coaches (and what you’ll be called to do if you become one):

  1. Discovery Sessions: This is the ‘get-to-know’ phase. Most high-performance coaches kick off with a discovery session to understand your goals, strengths, areas of improvement, and what you hope to achieve with coaching.
  2. Goal Setting: Once they know where you’re coming from, they help you set clear, achievable goals. 
  3. Action Plans: A goal without a plan is just a wish, right? Coaches design tailored action plans that align with your goals, ensuring you have a roadmap to success.
  4. Regular Check-ins: Whether it’s a weekly call, bi-weekly meeting, or even daily texts for some, regular touchpoints are essential. These sessions are for reviewing progress, addressing challenges, and celebrating small victories.
  5. Feedback and Adjustments: As you move forward, there might be a need to adjust your strategy. Based on your progress and feedback, coaches will tweak the plan to ensure you’re always on the right path.

For example, you’re an up-and-coming manager. You’re great at your job but freezes up when speaking in front of your team. 

A good performance coach wouldn’t just hand you a script. 

Instead, they’ll work with you to understand the root of your anxiety, equip you with speaking techniques, and build your confidence. 

Over time, with the coach’s guidance, you wouldn’t just speak; you’d inspire.

Now, what if you’re someone who doesn’t necessarily have a specific “problem” but just wants to level up? No worries! 

Whether a newbie or a pro, they adjust the training regime to fit your needs, ensuring you’re always pushing boundaries and reaching new heights.

In short, a good performance coach is like that friend who listens and gives solid advice, motivates you when you’re lagging, celebrates your wins, and nudges you (maybe even shoves a little, but you get the point) toward your best self.

Do You Need A Performance Coaching Certification?

You’re probably wondering, “Do I need a fancy certificate on my wall to be a top-performance coach?” The answer? It’s a bit of a mixed bag.

Some organizations or coaching clients might have specific requirements, while others are more lenient. But if you want to start your own coaching business, it’ll be up to you to decide.

Here’s a quick breakdown:

  1. Formal Education: No, you don’t necessarily need a PhD in psychology. But having a background in areas like human resources, organizational behavior, psychology, or performance coach training can give you an edge. It shows you have the foundational knowledge to understand human behavior and motivation.
  2. Certification Program: This is where the debate heats up. While no law mandates performance coaches to be certified in life coaching, many successful coaches opt for having a performance coach certification. It’s akin to the debate about whether you have to be licensed to be a life coach.
    Why? Because it adds credibility. It’s like getting a seal of approval that says, “I’ve got the coaching skills and knowledge to guide you to your best self.”
  3. Experience: Remember the saying, “Experience is the best teacher”? Well, it’s gold in the coaching business. Real-world experiences, successes, challenges, and even failures can be your best assets. They provide relatable stories and practical insights that can resonate with your coaching clients.
  4. Continuous Learning: The world isn’t static, and neither should your knowledge be. Whether attending workshops, reading the latest books, or even listening to related podcasts, staying updated is crucial.
  5. Soft Skills: This might be the most underrated yet most essential part. Empathy, active listening, patience, and the ability to motivate are things no certificate can teach but are pivotal in coaching.

So, circling back to the original question: Must you get certified to become a performance coach? 


But if you want an edge, some extra confidence, or simply to gain trust from more coaching clients for your business, it might be worth it.

Aside from being a performance coach, there are various types of life coaching services that you might want to delve into, each with its own set of criteria.

If you decide to pursue a certification, there’s an array of options available, both online and offline. Just ensure it’s from a reputable institution. 

For example, you might consider a certification program from the International Coach Federation (ICF), the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC), and the Coach Training Institute (CTI).

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They are one of the most widely recognized and trusted organizations in the coaching industry, offering comprehensive coaching programs to enhance your own coaching and leadership skills.

How Much Do Performance Coaches Make?

Being a performance coach is undoubtedly rewarding. 

Beyond the fulfillment of empowering others to achieve their best, there’s another aspect many potential performance coaches are curious about: earnings. 

How much can one expect to make as a performance coach?

Well, let’s cut to the chase and get you in the know, and since we’re on the subject of money, let’s cash in on some insights (pun intended):

1. Experience and expertise

Like many professions, experience in the field often correlates with increased earnings.

A newbie just starting out may charge lower fees than a seasoned performance coach with a track record of success.

As performance coach establishes their reputation and refines their coaching skills, they can typically command higher rates.

2. Specialization

Some coaches cater to a broad audience, while others specialize in specific niches such as executive leadership, sales performance, or athlete development. 

Specialized coaches, especially those in high-demand sectors, often have the ability to charge premium rates due to their unique expertise.

3. Geographical location

A performance coach operating in a metropolitan city with high living costs may have different rates than one in a smaller town. 

Additionally, an international performance coach catering to global clientele might have varied earnings based on regional market rates.

4. Coaching medium

How a performance coach interacts with clients can also affect earnings.

While face-to-face coaching sessions may command a higher hourly rate, the rise of online coaching platforms has allowed many coaches to scale their services, reaching a wider audience and possibly generating more consistent income.

5. Group sessions vs. one-on-one

One-on-one coaching can be intensive and tailored to individual needs, often justifying higher fees. However, group coaching or workshops, even if priced lower per individual, can lead to significant earnings when aggregated.

6. Additional offerings

Many performance coaches supplement their income with related products or services. This could include books, online courses, speaking engagements, or branded merchandise. 

These supplementary streams not only diversify income but also bolster the coach’s brand presence.

7. Certification and continuous learning

As mentioned earlier in this article, certification can be a credibility booster. While not mandatory, having a recognized certificate might allow a certified performance coach to set higher fees.

Regularly attending advanced courses or obtaining further qualifications can also be a reason to adjust pricing upwards.

To give you a tangible perspective:

  • According to a survey by the International Coach Federation, the average annual income for coaches was around $61,900 in 2020.
  • Top-tier coaches, especially those with a celebrity clientele or corporate contracts, can command rates exceeding $1,000 per hour, with some even reaching the 5-figure mark for keynote speeches or workshops.

It’s worth noting that the figures above are broad estimates, and actual earnings can vary.

For many performance coaches, income might not be consistent month-to-month, especially when starting. To navigate this, many adopt strategies like offering packages (a set of sessions purchased in advance), retainer agreements, or even membership programs to ensure a steady flow of income.

How To Become a Performance Coach

So now that you know what a performance coach is all about, you’re probably wondering how to become one. The idea of guiding individuals to unlock their full potential while also experiencing personal growth and professional flexibility seems to be very rewarding.

(And hey, it brings a good amount of money, too!)

But wait—where should you begin?

How do you transition from the desire to the reality of becoming a high-performance coach yourself?

If you’re scratching your head wondering how, here’s your step-by-step (and totally doable!) guide:

1. Ask yourself why

This isn’t a trick question. But seriously, why do you want to do this?

The coaching world is vast; understanding your motivation can provide a clearer direction. 

Do you get a thrill from seeing others succeed? 

Are you driven by the desire to coach clients to their maximum potential?

Or perhaps it’s the deep satisfaction of facilitating personal breakthroughs? 

Identifying your ‘why’ sets the foundation for every other decision you make along your journey.

2. Pick a performance coaching niche

Choosing the right coaching niche is very important.

A niche helps you stand out in a sea of generic coaches and attracts your ideal coaching clients more effectively. It tailors your expertise and methods to a specific audience, making your services more impactful and relevant.

Let’s delve into some of the niches you might consider:

Startup entrepreneurs

In the fast-paced world of startups, founders often need guidance on scaling businesses, making strategic decisions, or managing teams effectively.

As a performance coach for entrepreneurs, you can help them navigate these challenges and achieve their vision.


The corporate ladder isn’t easy to climb. Many professionals struggle with balancing a demanding job, personal life, and self-care.

As a certified coach for high-performance professionals, you’d help them set clear goals, manage stress, and create a balanced routine for work-life harmony.

Artists and performers

This is another group that seeks to optimize their talents.

Whether they’re actors, singers, or dancers, performers face unique challenges, including handling criticism, finding motivation, and staying creative. If arts and entertainment resonate with you, this could be an exciting niche.

How to choose your niche

Picking a niche might seem daunting, but it’s about aligning with your strengths, interests, and market demand. Here are a few steps to guide you:

  1. Assess Your Strengths: What areas are you knowledgeable or passionate about? Maybe you have a business background, or you were an athlete in school. Use this as a starting point.
  2. Market Research: Identify the needs of your potential clients. What challenges do they face? What goals are they aiming for? This will help you fine-tune your niche as a performance coach.
  3. Test and Iterate: Start with a broader niche, offer free sessions, gather feedback, and refine as you go. Your niche will evolve as you gain more experience and insights.

Remember, a defined niche doesn’t restrict you; instead, it positions you as an expert in a specific domain. This specialization makes your services more valuable and sought after by the exact type of people you want to help.

3. Learn more about performance coaching

Before you become a performance coach, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with its concepts, methodologies, and practices. While firsthand experience is invaluable, grounding yourself in knowledge first can help you shape that experience effectively.

Read books about performance coaching

Read books written by renowned coaches and experts in the field. These provide insights into techniques, success stories, and the psychology behind performance coaching. 

Here are some of the books you can start reading:

  • The Coaching Effect: What Great Leaders Do to Increase Sales, Enhance Performance, and Sustain Growth by Bill Eckstrom and Sarah Wirth
  • Coaching for Performance by John Whitmore

Enroll in workshops, webinars, or seminars related to performance coaching

Workshops, webinars, and seminars are invaluable for hands-on coaching experience. Not only do you learn from seasoned experts, but you also get a chance to network and see different coaching styles in action.

Seek out a mentor

A top performance coach mentoring another performance coach? Yep, it’s possible.

Think of it as an accelerated learning path.

A mentor, with their years of experience, can offer you guidance, feedback, and perspective that’s hard to gain on your own. Partnering with a top performance coach can greatly enhance your skills and understanding of the craft.

4. Secure your coaching certification

As we said earlier, performance coach certification isn’t always required.

However, while it’s not always necessary, having a certification can boost your credibility. It tells clients you have proper training and upholds certain standards.

5. Define your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

What’s the core change you’ll bring about in your clients? Examples:

“I’ll assist you in breaking your work plateau and achieving unparalleled productivity.”

“Enhance your athletic performance without compromising mental peace.”

Your offer should resonate with the specific challenges your niche faces, leading to greater engagement with paying clients.

Here’s an example from coach Karel. Her USP is: Helping passionate, high-achieving women heal from shame and self loathing through authentic self love.

image 5

It works well because:

  • She’s clear on who she helps
  • She specifies the pain point she helps her dream client through
  • She explains how she helps them through those pain points

Only her ideal client will feel drawn by this USP – and everyone else will fall away, disinterested – which is a good thing! If she were to simply say:

I help people love themselves

She’d be much less likely to draw anyone to her coaching because it’s not unique enough. What’s special about that? So, no one will feel particularly “repelled,” but no one will feel drawn in, either.

6. Build your own coaching business and skills through experience

Starting a successful coaching journey isn’t just about learning theory. It’s about applying what you’ve learned in real-world situations. 

Volunteer in community programs, give free sessions to those eager to grow or guide friends and family.

If you already have experience with performance coaching, you may not need to do this step. But if you haven’t yet gotten your feet wet, this will help you improve your craft before asking potential clients to invest in your not-yet-sharpened skills blindly.

7. Build your business and brand

Your coaching brand tells people who you are and what you stand for. So, invest in it. This goes beyond just a logo or website. It’s about consistently communicating your values and what you bring to the table.

Here’s how you can craft that brand:

  • Make a Website: A website is like your digital storefront. Ensure it’s clear, clean, and communicates exactly who you are and the transformation you promise to deliver. Feature client testimonials, your coaching philosophy, and perhaps a blog where you can share your thoughts and insights. (Or, if you don’t want to create your own website immediately, why not build your digital storefront with Paperbell?)
  • Build Your LinkedIn Presence: This isn’t just a platform for job seekers. There are a lot of performance coach jobs on LinkedIn. Share articles, join relevant groups, and participate in discussions. Your ideal clients might just be a connection away.
  • On TikTok: Share bite-sized coaching tips, debunk common myths or give a glimpse of a day in the life of a performance coach. TikTok is a fantastic platform to make learning engaging and fun.
  • On Instagram: Beyond just photos, use Instagram stories and reels to share client stories, host live Q&A sessions, or even collaborate with other coaches or experts in your niche. It solidifies your standing as an authority in the field.
  • Networking: Attend relevant events, workshops, and seminars to network with other professionals. Your next big opportunity might come from a fellow attendee. You can even make your own t-shirts or sweatshirts that communicate your philosophy to present them to other experts. Use colors that match your brand and a logo that highlights the essence of your business.
  • Engage in Webinars and Podcasts: Share your expertise. Being a guest on a podcast or hosting a webinar can position you as a thought leader. Plus, it allows you to reach a broader audience that you might not connect with otherwise.

Remember, your brand is a living entity. It evolves as you do. 

So, routinely take a step back, evaluate, and refine based on feedback and the changing dynamics of the coaching landscape.

Start Your Performance Coaching Business With Paperbell

As you set out on your performance coaching business, remember having the right tools can make all the difference. Paperbell streamlines your scheduling, payments, and client management, letting you focus on what you do best—transforming lives. Grab your free trial right here, and let Paperbell be the support system that elevates your coaching business to new heights!

how to become a performance coach

By Charlene Boutin
Charlene is an email marketing and content strategy coach for small business owners and freelancers. Over the past 5 years, she has helped and coached 50+ small business owners to increase their traffic with blog content and grow their email subscribers.
November 13, 2023

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