How to ask high mileage questions


I see a lot of new health coaches asking questions to gather information, the facts about a client's life or situation to try to understand and piece it all together.

When did that happen? Where did this happen? What happened next? Who else was involved? What did they say/do? Did you do this? Did you do that?

This type of questioning is common because it’s how we converse with our friends, family and colleagues. We want to try and fully understand the scenario in order to help the person find a solution.

But as coaches, we actually need less information than we think we do.

Of course we need to gather some information and background in order to have a sense of the situation, but we really don’t need to know how things came to be or the finer details. Because we aren’t trying to solve or fix a problem.

Coaching questions are much different. 

They’re intended to open up possibilities and help the client explore, learn and grow. Coaching questions, come from a place of curiosity.

We call these powerful, high mileage, provocative and curious questions. They're the foundation of coaching, our cornerstones.

When we come from a place of curiosity we’re not the expert, we’re guiding the client’s discovery, learning and exploration about themselves and their life. We look at their world through the eyes of a child.

Check out the video below to learn more about how to ask high mileage questions.

What questions do you have about asking high mileage questions? I'd be happy to answer them in the comments or feel free to email me at

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  1. sue on October 10, 2020 at 4:21 pm

    How did you learn how to ask high-mileage questions? We were not trained very well in this area. Did you read, did you watch videos? It isn’t something that just comes to my mind. This was an area I struggled in when I was doing my practice Health Histories at IIN.

    • Michelle on October 14, 2020 at 3:44 pm

      Hi Sue. I have taken a few additional health and wellness coach trainings, plus have gone through a few certification processes, and also learned by doing – by practicing. Nothing can replace good old practice and experience.

  2. sue on October 10, 2020 at 4:35 pm

    Im watching your High-Mileage Questions video. I thought each session was to be full of high-mileage questions, not one or two, then see where the conversation goes from there. I am really glad I watched this video. I always had my several lists of questions in front of me when I practiced Health Histories…and I was always so nervous. Once that question was done, I was searching through all of my lists for the next best high-mileage question to ask that was relevant to the discussion UGGGH. Thank you for the advice.

    • Michelle on October 14, 2020 at 3:42 pm

      So glad you found this helpful Sue. I felt exactly the same way when I started.

  3. Laura Lien on July 28, 2021 at 7:48 pm

    This was a great video. Very informative. I took lots of notes! I find that I don’t go deep enough with my clients. It’s very “big picture”. I will start implementing these techniques to hopefully get the client to learn more about themselves. Thank you for sharing this!

    • Michelle on July 29, 2021 at 10:05 am

      Hi Laura. I’m glad the video was helpful. And yes that is common as a new coach to stay on the surface and high level. Let me know how it goes as you try some of these more high mileage questions and offer opportunities for your clients to learn and grow even more.

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