The Creative Process of Coaching

Every composer starts with the same notes. Every author starts with the same alphabet. All artists start with the same palette of basic colors. Then why aren’t there more Beethoven’s, Hemingway’s and Rembrandt’s? The answer is genius and the creative process. Coaching is similar; at the heart of coaching is the creative process. The coach is no different than the composer or the artist. The coach’s palette is the human body expressed through movement. Graham, Wallis described the four stages of the creative process. The steps in this process are easily adapted to the coaching environment. It is important to remember that this is not a linear process.

The four stages that Wallis identified are:

1. Preparation. This is the stage of gathering information. This is the time to define the problem. You must be well prepared and know what you are doing. Make yourself an expert, this will provide the foundation to be creative and innovative. The process of becoming an expert will ignite creative ideas.

2. Incubation – It takes time, creative ideas do not happen overnight. Sometimes a training method that did not work in the past will work now if placed in a different context. Forcing solutions does not work.

3. Illumination. This is when you get it and the light comes on. Sometimes it is reading something, hearing something or seeing a movement that makes things click.

4. Verification. This is the actual application, where the new idea is implemented to see if it actually works.


Great coaches are very creative; it is just that their field of expression is different. You have to see the sport you are working with new eyes.

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