Coach: Educate or Train?

Educate or Train


As all coaches know this question is too simplistic.


As a coach, you are expected to be a leader, a teacher, a parent, a counselor, a guide, a dictator, a sounding board, a psychologist all at different times for different people or the same persons.

The coach role requires the person charged with that responsibility to prepare an individual, or a group of individuals (team) for their best possible effort(s) so that these may translate into the best possible results.

This preparation includes three phases –
•pre-event or pre-competition coaching,
•in-competition coaching, and
•review and setup for the next event or competition coaching

Competition in sport is easy to understand.
In business or corporate life, competition is occurring every day.

In fact, in many markets, it is even occurring 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week.
For ease of understanding the topic of Training though, I will use sport as the prime exemplar and make application to business or corporate when necessary.

Phase 1 of getting properly prepared for competition is the leadup to the event. It is in this phase that the majority of training will occur.

the WHY

Of course, the Coach will have outlined what the event is; what is expected of individuals and of the team if it is a team event; what the various roles are of the athletes competing; and finally, what are the technical, physical, mental, tactical and team skills required to give the individual and the team best chance of meeting the desired outcomes.

In other words, the Coach’s outline provides all concerned with the WHY, the purpose, for pre-event preparation.

The WHY gives meaning to the often arduous and tedious TRAINING that needs to occur in order for an athlete and a team to have themselves ‘game ready’ to deliver their skills.


Training provides the muscle memory opportunities through continuous repetition of a skill or a drill.

Training gives the body an understanding of the physical demands that the actual event will demand.

Training gives the mind the tactical decision making needed for in-game situations, all the various scenarios or rehearsal circumstances that an athlete or the team may encounter.

In the workplace, Training is used similarly.

For making the business systems and tasks that require a set or safe or procedural response, then staff will learn through courses, repetition, and generally by doing.

Often such tasks come with in-built feedback direct to the person, by online/course checking that the task has been learnt or performed correctly, or by a supervisor providing detection and correction of errors.

Where the job has an obvious physical component, then it may require certain physical standards being met before being accredited to undertake the role.

More often than not in the workplace, the physical component of the job is overlooked or treated as a low priority.

Scenario or rehearsal training will be provided in certain circumstances; but normally, good decision making through clarity of thought, being composed under the pressure of timelines, project demands, and/or the bosses’ needs is learnt through coaching combined with personal experience.

Whether it is the sports field or the workplace though, it is always the objective of the Coach to enable his or her athletes or ‘business athletes’ to be ‘their own best coach’. Through a combination of coaching and training, an individual will know how they produce their best results, their “PB”.

Once knowing how to perform at their best, individuals can then drive their own preparation pre-event, during the event and post-event. He or she will know what they need to do technically, physically, mentally, tactically to give themselves best chance of getting the desired results from the meeting, the project, the day and so on.

The Coach’s or the leader’s role is to be come as redundant as possible – get out of the way and let the individual do their job; observe performance and provide immediate and accurate feedback to the person so that they can make improvements in performance, and ultimately results.

So back to the original question – are coaches educators or trainers?

There is no doubt coaches are both dependent upon the circumstances.
As all coaches know, the role is multi-dimensional, due to the range of circumstances.

However, as a guiding principle, good coaching is about providing the learning environment in which their person(s) for whom they are coaching learn how to become ‘their own best coach’.


A coach’s real purpose is to educate. Training is one tool in the coach’s toolkit.

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