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Coaching is NOT Athletic Coaching!

February 22, 2012


Once again, the similarities between these two distinct branches of Coaching can throw us off, especially the label “Coaching” which has long been used in athletics, way before anyone even called themselves a Life or Business “Coach”.

“Leaders aren’t born, they’re made. And they’re made just like anything else, through
hard work. And that’s the price we’ll
have to pay to achieve that goal or any goal.”
Vince Lombardi

Sports or Athletic Coaches do so many of the same things that Life/Business Coaches might do: help athletes set goals, learn skills, exercise those skills, motivate massive action, hold accountable, establish punishment/reward systems, and so forth. However, unlike Sports Coaching, Professional Life or Business Coaching is not competition based. We strengthen the client’s own skills to improve their lives rather than help them “beat” the other team. Here is a list of some of the other key differences.

1) The Athletics Coach is most often an expert in the sport, usually a former successful player, who uses knowledge and experience to guide the actions of individuals (as in figure skating) or teams (as in football).

2) Sports Coaches focus on poorly or improperly executed behaviors more often than determining opportunities for improvement based on strengths and abilities.

3) Athletic Coaching focuses on “beating an opponent” or “winning” which only occurs concurrently with another person “losing”. It’s the win-lose model.

 “The spirit, the will to win, and the will
to excel are the things that endure. These qualities
are so much more important than the events that occur.”

~ Vince Lombardi

 4) Athletic Coaching focuses on “competition” and pursues an “end” that includes a loser…ideally the “other” team. One team always has to lose and, in fact, very few win (1 out of 32 in Pro-Football, for example). Life/Business Coaching focuses on win-win solutions that are empowering beyond the client alone.

5) Can we call Athletic Coaching a “service” and/or coaches “vendors” or business people? Yes, in some cases of specialization that applies, but in general those are supplemental or in addition to the kind of Athletic Coaching that’s the norm.

 “Coaching is a profession of love.
You can’t coach people unless you love them.”

~ Eddie Robinson

There are more similarities than those I have briefly listed here, but this point is best made by focusing on the KEY differences between the different definitions of the word Coach.


From → Coaching, Consulting

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