Coaching

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This article refers to the general act of coaching people. For sports coaching, see coach (sport). For other uses of the word, see coach (disambiguation) or coaching inn.

A coach is a person who teaches and directs another person via encouragement and advice. This use of the term "coaching" appears to have origins in English traditional university "cramming" in the mid-19th century. (The name allegedly recalls the multi-tasking skills associated with controlling the team of a horse-drawn stagecoach.) By the 1880s American college sports teams had -- in addition to managers -- coaches. Some time in the 20th century, non-sporting coaches emerged: non-experts in the specific technical skills of their clients, but who nevertheless ventured to offer generalised motivational or inspirational advice.

Current practice in performance coaching in non-sporting environments focuses on non-directive questioning and helping coachees to analyse and address their own challenges rather than offering advice or direction (see Tim Gallwey's The Inner Game of Tennis or Myles Downey's Effective Coaching).


In organizational development (OD), coaching forms an important intervention designed to assess and improve performance of an individual or a team.

Individual coaching

When a coach works with an individual client -- often marketed as life coaching -- the initial task involves the coach and client working out a mutual understanding of the scope of work and documenting that understanding in a contract. Then the coach helps the client to prioritise their current performance needs and looks for ways to address any improvements.


Team coaching

Like individual coaching, team coaching focuses on improving performance. In the case of a team, the coach observes the team's current functioning, assesses the team's strengths and weaknesses, and develops a plan for addressing any needed changes.

Business coaching

Business coaching focuses on helping a business owner to create a distinctive business plan with its own identity. Business coaching can operate in any segment of commerce: from traditional businesses to entrepreneurial start-ups to e-businesses.

Business coaching can also apply to any model of business. For instance, the "franchise" model has the end goal establishing defined processes that allow the entrepreneur to separate him/herself from the business.

Compare: leadership, mentoring, life coaching, personal coaching, business coaching.

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