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62 Coaching Questions The Best Coaches Ask Their Clients

What are the most powerful coaching questions to ask during your coaching sessions?

The questions you ask can transform your client’s coaching experience. And today, you’ll get the best questions to ask your clients.

Want to learn more? Read on!

The 10 best coaching questions

Coaching questions at the start of your session

Coaching questions at the end of your session

Probing coaching questions

GROW questions

OSKAR questions

CLEAR questions

What are the best coaching questions to ask? 

Coaching questions are questions you ask your clients to probe them to reflect on where they’re at and in what direction they’re going. 

They are commonly used in a popular coaching approach called “question-based coaching.”

This approach works by encouraging your clients to think outside the box. 

By answering your questions, they discover new ways of thinking – something that is called guided discovery or socratic questioning.

While this approach works, my approach is slightly different. My school of thought when it comes to coaching is that the student should be empowered to be in the driver’s seat.

Instead of you asking deep, soul-searching questions, encourage your clients to ask the questions. 

That way, your clients build a strong foundation for themselves to become more self-sufficient and confident.

However, you’ll still need to guide your client, especially in the beginning. You’ll also act more like a mix between a coach and consultant (what I call “coach-sulting”) – giving straight answers based on your experience when it’s clear that the client should take certain steps. And probing when it’s not clear what they really want. 

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Ultimately, that’s what creates impactful coaching conversations. 

Now, let’s look at the top 10 questions for laser-focused coaching.

The 10 best coaching questions

I’ve been a coach for years now, and I’ve perfected my formula for great coaching sessions that create results. Here are the 10 best coaching questions I use to help my clients achieve their goals.

“Where can I give you some extra support?” 

This is the ultimate “help me to help you” question. 

All coaching clients have obstacles (fears, limiting beliefs, and other challenges). As a coach, you help them identify and overcome them. 

So this question is a good coaching question to ask at the beginning of a coaching session to see where your client is struggling. Sometimes, you’ll need to dig deeper and ask follow-up questions like, “tell me more about (the thing they brought up).”

“When we started working together, you mentioned you had fears around (insert fears). How are you feeling about this right now?”

Fear is one of the biggest reasons clients hold themselves back. Even if someone doesn’t feel scared consciously, fear can manifest itself unconsciously through procrastination, imposter syndrome, and playing small. 

Once you’ve identified the root cause of the fear (and this can be a process in itself), it helps to check up on how your client is coping with that fear during your sessions. 

Is there still some part of that fear that they feel is holding them back? 

Working through their fear is one of the best ways to help your clients ultimately achieve their goals. 

“What did you do this week?”

Accountability is one of the key ways you help your clients as a coach. The more consciously clients are taking steps toward achieving their goal, the faster they’ll get there. 

To help your session be more efficient, ask this question 24 hours before your coaching call. That way, they have time to reflect and you can spend the session reviewing your client’s progress.

Are they on track? 

Do you need to tweak the roadmap a little?

If your client didn’t make any progress, what held them back? 

Effective goal setting and strategy are important, but so is keeping your client accountable – and supporting them in holding themselves accountable. 

“What went well this week?”

This question helps your client reflect on the progress they’ve made during the week. Ideally, you get the answer to this question 24 hours before your coaching session so that you can review the answer during your call. 

This question is focused on helping your client recognize their progress. Otherwise, they can get sucked in and only focus on the challenges ahead of them. 

But as they take steps, they’re getting closer and closer to their goal. 

“What do you want to focus on during this call?” 

This question is all about helping your client identify their biggest areas of growth. In other words, what I said above about taking the driver’s seat. 

Preferably, your client sends the answer to this question 24 hours before your call so you can design a coaching session that works for them. Ideally, they’ll make it a habit to send answers to this and the two previous questions before every call you have with them.

“What questions are coming up for you?” 

This is how I encourage my clients to ask questions after we’ve talked through something. These questions help drive the coaching conversation and allow you to dig deeper. Maybe they have fears coming up, maybe their questions are more practical…Either way, I want to help my clients in the best way possible – and only they know how I can do that. 

“What else can I support you with?”

You can use this question after you’ve discussed a topic to see if your client has more questions that are coming up for them. Sometimes they’re focused on a specific topic, sometimes they need help in many areas. This question helps you keep your coaching call moving forward.

“How do you feel about that?” 

What we do has a lot more to do with our emotions than our brains. While we might know we should or shouldn’t do something (eat healthy, go to bed early, work out…), we still do the opposite because our emotions are steering us, not the logical part of our brain. 

So while clients might understand they need to do something, they might be emotionally blocked or self-sabotaging. That’s why asking this question can reveal what support they need to move forward and actually reach their goal. 

Plus, coaching should be a tailored experience. If clients don’t feel that something will work for them, it probably won’t. So work together with your client to understand why they’re resisting something, and what alternative routes they can take to get to their goal. 

“What’s coming up for you?”

You can use this question to dig deeper when coaching your client through a situation. Discussing the surface level is probably not enough – you need to probe more to get clients to really open up. (Especially in the beginning, when you’re building rapport.)

So ask this question whenever you’ve coached your client. And if they say, “I’m good,” great! Then you can move on to the next question. 

“What’s your biggest takeaway from today’s call?”

This question is great for wrapping up a session. It helps your client reflect on what they’ve learned. You also understand what’s resonating with them the most. Which helps you to get to know them and build a stronger coaching relationship. 

Now, let’s take a look at the best questions to ask at the beginning of a session. 

Coaching questions to start your session with

How do you get your clients to open up? And how do you ensure your calls are effective right from the start? 

Here are the top questions to ask early on during a call. 

  • “What can I give some extra support with?” 
  • “What do you want to focus on during this call?”
  • “Tell me about what’s going on right now.”
  • “Last time, you mentioned X. How is that going?” 
  • “What’s going on with you today?” 
  • “What stuck with you from last time?”

Coaching questions to end your session with

How do you end your coaching calls? After all, at the end of your calls, your clients should know what steps to take next. Here are the top questions to ask: 

  • “What are your action steps for next time?” 
  • “What’s your biggest takeaway from today’s call?” 
  • “Was there something else you wanted to talk about today, but didn’t cover?” 
  • “How are you going to keep yourself accountable until next time?” 
  • “What’s your biggest learning today?”
  • “What’s your plan for next week?” 
  • “What steps do you want to commit to until next time?” 

Probing coaching questions

How do you dig deeper and help your clients open up more and share what’s really going on with them? (They might not even know it themselves, but with the right questions you can uncover the things that are subconsciously holding them back.) 

Here are the top questions to ask: 

  • “Where do you feel stuck?” 
  • “Have you tried X?”
  • “What questions are coming up for you?”
  • “What else can I support you with?” 
  • “How do you feel about X?” 
  • “Tell me more about X?” 
  • “How did you react to X?” 
  • “What would be an alternative solution to X?” 
  • “Have you thought about this from another perspective?” 
  • “What do you need to do to get there?” 
  • “Explain what you mean with X?” 
  • “What else is coming up for you?” 
  • “What fear is coming up for you?” 
  • “How have you reacted to this situation in the past?” 
  • “If you dig deeper, what do you feel is going on here?” 
  • “Why do you want X?” 
  • “Why don’t you want X?”
  • “What would it mean for you to get X?” 
  • “How is X different from Y?” 
  • “Why do you believe X?” 
  • “How can you take action to achieve X?” 

GROW model questions

So far, we’ve gone through some of my favorite coaching questions that align with my “coach-sulting” approach. But let’s look at another coaching model – the GROW model, which is a popular coaching methodology for life coaches. 

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GROW stands for Goal, Reality, Options, and Will. Next, let’s take a look at each of these. 

Goal: The conversation starts with setting clear goals for the future. Questions to ask include:

  • “What’s your goal for X?” 
  • “What does your life look like when you’ve achieved X?” 
  • “Why is this goal motivating to you?” 

Reality: Look at where your client is now to understand their current reality – where they are in relation to their goal. Questions to ask at this stage: 

  • “What have you done to reach this goal so far?”
  • “Where are you at with your progress?”
  • “What have you tried that has or hasn’t worked?”

Options: Look at what actions your client can take to get to their goal, as well as the challenges they need to overcome. Questions include: 

  • “What are the other ways you could achieve this goal?”
  • “If you didn’t have this obstacle, what would you do?”
  • “Is there someone who could help you achieve your goal?”

Will: Plan the next steps and ensure your client is motivated for the work ahead. Questions can include: 

  • “What is your ideal timeframe for achieving this goal?”
  • “What is the first actionable task you can do after this session?”
  • “What are the obstacles to doing these tasks? How can we squash them?” 

OSKAR model questions

The OSKAR coaching model is an approach that many executive and business coaches use. It’s a solution-based model that focuses on your client’s progress and effort. OSKAR about making improvements to your client’s actions little by little. 

Again, this isn’t the coaching model I use, but I can see the value in it. You can always adopt one of these models as a base and create your own signature style. 

Here is how OSKAR (Outcome, Scaling, Know, Action, and Review) works:

Outcome: Encourage your client to set clear goals. Questions can include: 

  • “What is the specific goal you would like to achieve?”
  • “When would you like to achieve this goal?”
  • “What do you want to improve the most during our time working together?”

Scaling: Use a 1-10 scale to help your client determine where they are on their journey and how they want to improve. Questions to ask at this stage include: 

  • “On a scale of one to ten, how difficult do you think it will be to achieve this goal?”
  • “On a scale of one to ten, where do you think you are right now with this goal? One being nowhere near achieving it, ten being practically there already.”
  • “What would an ideal ten look like to you?”

Know: Assess whether your client has all of the knowledge they need to achieve their goal. Questions include: 

  • “What skills and resources will you need to achieve this goal?”
  • “Where are you at on a scale of one to ten with these skills?”
  • “How can you develop these skills more?”

Action: Determine how your client can improve their efforts after taking action on your roadmap. Questions can include: 

  • “What is the next actionable step you can take to achieve your goal?”
  • “What task will take you one step closer by tomorrow?”
  • “How can you improve your skills today?”

Review: Help your client reflect on their progress and how they can do better going forward. Questions can include: 

  • “What are you most proud of?”
  • “What did you find the most challenging?”
  • “What would you do differently next time?”

CLEAR model questions

CLEAR is another coaching style that business coaches use regularly. The focus is on a complete transformational coaching process from beginning to end. However, it’s less structured than the other models we’ve discussed. 

CLEAR stands for Contract, Listen, Explore, Action, and Review. 

Here’s how to use the CLEAR model in your coaching practice: 

Contract: Define what the coaching session is going to be about and set goals. Questions can include: 

  • “What would you like to focus on?”
  • “What goals are you working on right now?”
  • “How can I best help you during this session?”

Listen: Actively listen to your client and use probing questions to help them gain more clarity. Good questions to ask are:

  • “How does that make you feel?”
  • “What do you think might be behind that?”
  • “Is there anything else you want to tell me related to this topic?”

Explore: Help your client understand what they really want. Questions include: 

  • “What does success mean to you?”
  • “How will you know when you’ve reached your goal?”
  • “How will your life change as a result of working on this goal?”

Action: Determine the best actions your client can take to move forward with their goal. Questions can include: 

  • “What’s the next easiest step you can take?”
  • “Do you need any extra resources to get started?”
  • “What action can you take tomorrow to further your progress?”

Review: Reflect with your client on the progress they’ve made. Questions to ask include:

  • “How did it feel for you to take action on your plan?”
  • “What extra support would you need to improve next time?”
  • “What has been the biggest win for you?”

How to be a great coach

Having the right coaching questions is one thing…But how do you use them to become a great coach? 

The one thing you need to keep in mind at all times is: 

Focus on your client’s results

You see, traditional coaching is about becoming a trusted guide to your clients. Instead of telling your clients what to do, you help them discover their own answers and build their own paths. 

It’s very hands-off. The entire coaching experience is about the client figuring out what they want and why.

While those are important things to uncover (and should be part of your coaching), you don’t need to focus your entire program on this. 

Instead, I advocate for my “coach-sulting” approach – a combination of coaching and consulting. 

How does it work? 

Well, instead of conducting my coaching sessions like interviews, where I’m asking the questions, I approach them from two sides.

First is the coaching side. My questions are meant to guide but not to give my clients all the answers. It’s my job to help them clarify what’s true for them. This works well at the beginning of a session where we’re identifying the client’s goals, challenges, and progress so far. I can’t answer those questions for them.

The consulting part comes in when I encourage my clients to ASK questions. This is where they can trust me to give an honest answer and provide solutions. Like a trusted consultant. 

That means I create personalized roadmaps and resources to help guide my client’s journey. I’m also available to answer my client’s burning questions when they need them. 

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My approach allows my clients to both figure out things for themselves and get advice from an expert (me). I’m both their cheerleader and their teacher. 

Now, why do I prefer this approach to coaching? Because it: 

  • Provides a huge amount of value to my clients that sets me apart from other coaches
  • Makes sure that my clients never feel in doubt about their next steps
  • Motivates my clients to go after what they want
  • Helps my clients avoid common mistakes based on my knowledge and experience
  • Provides actionable advice that my clients can implement straight away
  • Allows my clients to achieve their goals faster

And as your clients sign up to work with you so that they can achieve a transformation, this is a really powerful coaching methodology. 

If you want to know more about my philosophy on coaching, check out this video:

Over to you!

Now you know how to use coaching questions to create life-changing coaching sessions. My signature coach-sulting model means I use questions to empower my client to ask questions of their own. But if you feel like a different style works best for you, go for it! 

Now, I’d love to know:

What’s your #1 question about coaching your first client? 

Let me know in the comments below!

About Luisa Zhou

Luisa Zhou has helped thousands of students build and scale their own profitable online Freedom Business. Fun Fact: She used to work as an engineer for the Space Station and holds a B.S.E. from Princeton. Click here to learn more about Luisa.

Hope you enjoy this blog post.

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