Coaching vs. Training…more thoughts

There was a lot of positive feedback from our previous post on the differences between coaching vs. training.  Thank you for that!  Then, a couple of weeks later, I came across a post by one the best coaches around, Martin Rooney, and he had some great insight and comparisons.  Here is his take….


After spending time in Germany, I discovered the Germans don’t even have a word for “coach” in their vocabulary.  The word “trainer” is broadly used and can be interpreted a number of different ways.  This fact reminded me even though the word coach does exist in English, it is misunderstood and poorly defined.

When I asked people what the term “coach” meant to them, I was surprised to receive a bunch of negative interpretations.  In sport, “coach” can conjure up an aggressive Little League dad yelling at an umpire while only concerning himself about his own kid or getting a win.  When applied to business or life, I was told the word “coach” can represent a person that attended to a weekend course in order to get paid to help others, but can’t seem to help themselves.  And in relation to the gym, some people imagined the drill sergeant using pushups to punish a client for a poor performance.  These viewpoints troubled me about the use of the word “coach”.

According to the dictionary, the word “coach” is defined as either “separate parts of a train or horse-drawn carriage,” or “a person who is responsible for managing or training a person or team.” This definition is grossly inadequate. Being called a coach is one of the most honorable and respectful titles you can be given.  Until there is a better appreciation and understanding for the term; however, there will be no reason for current coaches to change current beliefs or seek out new skills.

Since negative connotations abound and coaching is a difficult concept to define in a sentence or two, I wanted to compare it with training to help you to understand my personal definition about coaching.  As you will see, training and coaching are related, but they are not the same thing. Here are 12 comparisons to help illustrate the potential difference between a trainer and a coach:

A Trainer Lights a fire under someone.
A Coach Lights A Fire Inside Of Someone.

A Trainer affects the hour they are with someone.
A Coach affects the hours they are not with someone.

A Trainer Hopes To Get Through The Session.
The Coach Hopes To Get Through To Someone.

A Trainer Forgets The Job Is Not To Remind People About Problems.
A Coach Remembers The Job Is To Solve Them.

A Trainer Stretches your legs.
A Coach Stretches Your Limits.

A Trainer Counts Your Reps.
A Coach Discounts Your excuses.

A Trainer Is concerned with How Much time you put in.
A Coach is concerned with How Much You put into the time.

A Trainer wants you to do your best.
A Coach wants you to do better than your best.

A Trainer is concerned More With How, Where and When.
A Coach is Concerned More With Who, What and Why.

A Trainer Works For A Paycheck.
A Coach Works For A Passion.

A Trainer Develops and Delivers Your Workout.
A Coach Creates and Cultivates Your Purpose.

Training is Something You Do To Someone.
Coaching Is Something You Do With Someone.


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