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The 7 Best Coaching Exercises for an Impactful Transformation

The 7 Best Coaching Exercises for an Impactful Transformation

Explore these seven coaching exercises to start conversations and help clients identify goals. Plus, learn about the four categories of exercises.


Sometimes, people struggle to pinpoint the source of their discontentment and need someone to guide them through rough times. 

And wellness professionals, such as coaches, help them identify roadblocks. Coaches also help individuals discover inner motivations, set goals, and chart change-making action items. 

But how do coaches do that? That’s where coaching exercises help.

These exercises allow coaches to help clients discover themselves. In conversations, the coach and client may go around in circles, unable to pinpoint needs or motivations. But exercises help clients visualize their lives and areas of dissatisfaction. 

Hold sessions that push clients to look inward with the help of these seven coaching exercises. But first, let’s review the four exercise categories. 

Types of coaching exercises

There are four primary types of coaching exercises: those that help coaches evaluate clients, encourage clients to reflect, guide clients toward goals, and aid clients in identifying growth potential. And all exercises have the same core intention –– discovering the aspect that improves clients’ lives. Here’s more on these four different types of life coaching tools: 

  1. Evaluation: These assessment-style exercises are often surveys, quizzes, or intake forms that help you understand a client’s pain points. These forms may ask clients to tick off multiple-choice answers or give open-ended ones. Both questions are useful, as short answers provide clear insights and open-ended responses give context. 
  2. Reflection: Reflection exercises encourage clients to answer questions about their present or past, emphasizing particular life-changing events, successes and failures, and areas of satisfaction and dissatisfaction. To guide these sensitive conversations, prepare focused questions and remind the client they’re in a safe space. 
  3. Goal-setting: These exercises help clients envision their future and are essential in any coaching relationship, as people seek coaching services typically when they feel stuck. Help clients set attainable goals, and chart a route toward them. But remember, not all clients are ready for goal-setting exercises on day one. While some clients may come to the first session with a clear goal, such as quitting smoking or eating healthy, others may need reflection and assessment to determine what’s holding them back. 
  4. Growth: Achieving growth isn’t as finite as reaching goals. We can check off goals as we fulfill them, but development is lifelong. So growth exercises help clients determine how to become the best, most realized versions of themselves. Perhaps a client wishes to become a better communicator or leader, and you can help them break this dream into clear goals and action items.

Coaching exercises to use in sessions

Exercises are an excellent coaching technique to start a conversation or dive deeper into a topic affecting a client. Use the following three exercises in your sessions to guide clients toward answers: 

  1. The 5 whys: This coaching activity pushes your clients to assess issues closely. Ask the client to identify a problem and inquire why it’s happening. When the person responds, cross-question to understand why whatever they cited in their response is happening. Then, ask again, and follow this course until asking “why” five times. For example, a client could tell you they have trouble giving presentations at work. When you ask why, they may say their public speaking skills aren’t great. When you ask the third why, you could learn they get nervous in front of an audience. The fourth why could be about the client’s embarrassing experience. And the fifth why could be related to the reason for that experience.
  2. “I” statements: These help people define feelings and their root causes. These statements are as follows: “I feel X when X because X, and what I need/want is X.” For example, a client could say, “I feel hurt when my daughter doesn’t call me because I miss her, and all I want is to know how she’s doing.” These exercises work well for clients struggling to define frustrations or painful feelings that keep them from enjoying life thoroughly.
  3. SMART goals: Short for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound, SMART goal is an excellent objective-setting methodology. As you set goals with your clients, run them through the SMART parameters to ensure they’re clear, attainable, and capable of making significant change. For example, a client can’t just say “I want to quit smoking” –– they need to determine a timeline and milestones to track success, such as “I will reduce my daily cigarette intake from five to three within two months.” 


Coaching exercises for clients to do on their own

As a coach, you often assign homework, inviting clients to develop introspectiveness between sessions. Here are four excellent exercises you can send home with clients: 

  1. Wheel of Life: The Wheel of Life is a pie chart divided into eight categories. Each “slice” of the pie represents an essential life area, and common categories include relationships, career, money, and health. Ask your client to rate their satisfaction in each category by coloring in the corresponding percentage of the space on the pie slice. For example, if a client feels 50% satisfied with their career, they should color in half of the slice. The resulting visual is a wheel with peaks and low points, with some categories more full than others. This lets clients easily visualize where they thrive and need a boost.
  2. Journaling: Many wellness professionals, from coaches to therapists, encourage clients to journal. Inviting clients to write about their day helps them track their feelings and make emotional discoveries. For example, a client may start writing about a frustrating meeting at work and pinpoint that they felt ignored by a peer. This is an important data point, as this piece of information will lead to understanding emotions. Journaling can also help with emotional processing, as writing out feelings functions similarly to talking to a friend or mentor and working through “the why.”
  3. Three Good Things: This is a journaling exercise where a person writes down three things that went well in their day. The writer notes how these events made them feel and what led the events. Coaching clients should perform the exercise daily at home for at least a week, making this activity an excellent choice between weekly sessions.
  4. The Unsent Letter: Unsent letters are journaling exercises that help clients tap into their innermost feelings without judgment. Essentially, the person addresses a letter they’ll never send to someone (like a partner or loved one) with whom they’d like to have a difficult conversation. Then, they have that difficult conversation on the page. Clients can also address these letters to past and future selves, coworkers or bosses, someone who has died, or a “public audience,” as if writing an op-ed for the newspaper.

Promote your coaching business with exercises 

Exercises let you extract the essential information you need from clients, helping them create an action plan, but these tools also allow you to market services to the coaching-curious. 

Share exercises in your monthly newsletter or post about them on social media to pique your audience's interest. A reader who performs the activity may identify a roadblock in their life and turn to your coaching practice for help. 

And once you start receiving queries, track new leads in Practice’s Client Management Software, our in-house customer relationship management (CRM) tool, where you can securely save client information, schedule appointments, and receive payments. Try it today.

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