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This article refers to the act of coaching people. For other uses of the word, see Coach (disambiguation).

Coaching is training or development in which a person called a coach supports a learner in achieving a specific personal or professional goal. The learner is sometimes called a coachee. Occasionally, coaching may mean an informal relationship between two people, of whom one has more experience and expertise than the other and offers advice and guidance as the latter learns; but coaching differs from mentoring in focusing on specific tasks or objectives, as opposed to general goals or overall development.[1][2]


Etymologically, the English term "coach" is derived from a medium of transport that traces its origins to the Hungarian word kocsi meaning "carriage" that was named after the village "Kocs" where it was first made.[3] The first use of the term coaching to mean an instructor or trainer arose around 1830 in Oxford University slang for a tutor who "carries" a student through an exam.[3] Coaching thus has been used in language to describe the process used to transport people from where they are to where they want to be. The first use of the term in relation to sports came in 1861.[3]

Historically the evolution of coaching has been influenced by many other fields of study including those of personal development, adult education, psychology (sports, clinical, developmental, organizational, social and industrial) and other organizational or leadership theories and practices.


Professional coaching uses a range of communication skills (such as targeted restatements, listening, questioning, clarifying etc.) to help clients shift their perspectives and thereby discover different approaches to achieve their goals.[4] These skills can be used in almost all types of coaching. In this sense, coaching is a form of "meta-profession" that can apply to supporting clients in any human endeavor, ranging from their concerns in health, personal, professional, sport, social, family, political, spiritual dimensions, etc. There may be some overlap between certain types of coaching activities.[5]

ADHD coaching[edit]

The concept of ADHD coaching was first introduced in 1994 by psychiatrists Edward M. Hallowell and John J. Ratey in their book Driven to Distraction.[6] ADHD coaching is a specialized type of life coaching that uses specific techniques designed to assist individuals with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. The goal of ADHD coaching is to mitigate the effects of executive function deficit, which is a typical impairment for people with ADHD.[7]

Coaches work with clients to help them better manage time, organize, set goals and complete projects.[8] In addition to helping clients understand the impact ADHD has had on their lives, coaches can help clients develop "work-around" strategies to deal with specific challenges, and determine and use individual strengths. Coaches also help clients get a better grasp of what reasonable expectations are for them as individuals, since people with ADHD "brain wiring" often seem to need external mirrors for accurate self-awareness about their potential despite their impairment.[9]

Unlike psychologists or psychotherapists, ADHD coaches do not provide any therapy or treatment, their focus is only on daily functioning and behaviour aspects of the disorder.[10] The ultimate goal of ADHD coaching is to help clients develop an "inner coach", a set of self-regulation and reflective planning skills to deal with daily life challenges.[11]

A 2010 study from Wayne State University evaluated the effectiveness of ADHD coaching on 110 students with ADHD. The research team concluded that the coaching "was highly effective in helping students improve executive functioning and related skills as measured by the Learning and Study Strategies Inventory (LASSI)."[12] Yet, not every ADHD person needs a coach and not everyone can benefit from using a coach.[13]

Business and executive coaching[edit]

Business coaching is a type of human resource development. It provides positive support, feedback and advice on an individual or group basis to improve personal effectiveness in the business setting. Business coaching is also called executive coaching,[14] corporate coaching or leadership coaching.

Coaches help their clients advance towards specific professional goals. These include career transition, interpersonal and professional communication, performance management, organizational effectiveness, managing career and personal changes, developing executive presence, enhancing strategic thinking, dealing effectively with conflict, and building an effective team within an organization. An industrial organizational psychologist is one example of executive coach.

Business coaching is not restricted to external experts or providers. Many organizations expect their senior leaders and middle managers to coach their team members to reach higher levels of performance, increased job satisfaction, personal growth, and career development.[15] Research studies suggest that executive coaching has a positive impact on workplace performance.[16]

The Professional Business Coaches Alliance,[17] the International Coach Federation, the International Coaching Council[18] and the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches[19] provide a membership-based association for business coaching professionals. Currently, there is no certification or licensing required to be a business or executive coach, and membership in such self-designed organizations is entirely optional. Further, standards and methods of training coaches can vary widely from organization to organization. Many business coaches refer to themselves as consultants, a broader business relationship than one which exclusively involves coaching.[20] According to a MarketData Report in 2007, an estimated 40,000 people in the U.S. work as business or life coaches, and the $2.4 billion industry is growing at rate of 18% per year.[21]

Career coaching[edit]

Main article: Career counseling

Career coaching focuses on work and career and is similar to career counseling. Career coaching is not to be confused with life coaching, which concentrates on personal development. Another common term for a career coach is career guide.

Christian coaching[edit]

Christian coaching is becoming more common among religious organizations and churches.[citation needed] A Christian coach is not a pastor or counselor (although he may also be qualified in those disciplines), but rather someone who has been professionally trained to address specific coaching goals from a distinctively Christian or biblical perspective.

Although various training courses exist, there is no single regulatory body for Christian coaching. Some of the Christian coaching programs are based on the works of Henry Cloud, John Townsend, and John C. Maxwell.

Financial coaching[edit]

Financial coaching is a relatively new form of coaching that focuses on helping clients overcome their struggle to attain specific financial goals and aspirations they have set for themselves. Financial coaching is a one-on-one relationship in which the coach works to provide encouragement and support aimed at facilitating attainment of the client's financial plans. Financial coach, also called money coach, typically focuses on helping clients to restructure and reduce debt, reduce spending, develop saving habits, and develop financial discipline. Although early research links financial coaching to improvements in client outcomes, much more rigorous analysis is necessary before any causal linkages can be established.[22]

Health and wellness coaching[edit]

Main article: Health coaching

In the world of health and wellness, a health coach is an emerging new role. Health coaching is becoming recognized as a new way to help individuals "manage" their illnesses and conditions, especially those of a chronic nature.[23] The coach will use special techniques, personal experience, expertise and encouragement to assist the coachee in bringing his/her behavioral changes about.

Homework coaching[edit]

Main article: Homework coach

Homework coaching focuses on equipping a student with the study skills required to succeed academically. This approach is different from regular tutoring which typically seeks to improve a student's performance in a specific subject.[24]

Life coaching[edit]

Life coaching draws upon a variety of tools and techniques from other disciplines such as sociology,[citation needed] psychology, neuroscience,[25] and career counseling with an aim towards helping people identify and achieve personal goals. Specialty life coaches may have degrees in various fields and may have studied counseling psychology and related areas, however life coaches are not therapists, counselors, or health care providers and psychological intervention typically lies outside the scope of life coaches' work.

Relationship coaching[edit]

Relationship coaching is the application of coaching to personal and business relationships.[26] Supporting people in their relationships has, until recently, mostly been undertaken by counsellors or therapists.[26]:3

Sports coaching[edit]

Main article: Coach (sport)

In sports, a coach is an individual that provides supervision and training to the sports team or individual players. Coaches are involved in administration, athletic training, competition coaching, and representation of the team and the players. Sport coach, also called athletic coach, helps players to reach their full potential and to achieve their athletic goals. The ultimate goal of sports coaching is to prepare athletes to win.[27]

Coaching ethics and standards[edit]

One of the challenges in the field of coaching is upholding levels of professionalism, standards and ethics. To this end, many of the coaching bodies and organizations have codes of ethics and member standards and criteria according to which they hold their members accountable in order to protect coaching clients' interests.[28][29][30]


Critics see life coaching as akin to psychotherapy but without restrictions, oversight, regulation, or established ethical policies.[31][32][33] There is no state regulation or licencing requirements for coaches. Due to lack of oversight and regulation, the vast majority of life and wellness coaches practicing in the field never had any formal training or certification.[34]

With the growing popularity of coaching, many colleges and universities now offer coach training programs that are accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF).[35] Some courses offer a life coach certificate after just a few days of training,[31] but such courses, if they are accredited at all, are considered "à la carte" training programs, "which may or may not offer start to finish coach training," according to the ICF.[36] "All-inclusive" training programs accredited by the ICF require a minimum of 125 student contact hours, 10 hours of mentor coaching and a performance evaluation process.[37] This is very little training in comparison to some other helping professionals: for example, licensure as a counseling psychologist in the State of California requires 3,000 hours of supervised professional experience.[38]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Renton, Jane (2009). Coaching and Mentoring: What They Are and How to Make the Most of Them. New York: Bloomberg Press. ISBN 9781576603307. 
  2. ^ Chakravarthy, Pradeep (20 December 2011). "The Difference Between Coaching And Mentoring". Forbes. Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c coach, Online Etymology Dictionary, retrieved 4 July 2015 .
  4. ^ Cox, Elaine (2013), Coaching Understood: a Pragmatic Inquiry into the Coaching Process, Los Angeles; London: Sage, ISBN 9780857028259 .
  5. ^ Cox, Elaine; Bachkirova, Tatiana; Clutterbuck, David, eds. (2014) [2010], The Complete Handbook of Coaching (2nd ed.), Los Angeles; London: Sage, ISBN 9781446276150 
  6. ^ Hallowell, Edward M.; Ratey, John J. (1984). Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood Through Adulthood. Pantheon. ISBN 9780679421771. 
  7. ^ Barkley, Russell A. (2012). Executive Functions: What They Are, How They Work, and Why They Evolved. Guilford Press. ISBN 9781462505357. 
  8. ^ Hamilton, Jeff (6 January 2011). "26 Benefits of Adult ADHD Coaching". Psychology Today. Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  9. ^ Knouse, Laura E.; Bagwell, Catherine L.; Barkley, Russell A.; Murphy, Kevin R. (May 2005). "Accuracy of Self-Evaluation in Adults with ADHD: Evidence from a Driving Study". Journal of Attention Disorders 8 (4): 221–234. doi:10.1177/1087054705280159. PMID 16110052. 
  10. ^ McCarthy, Laura Flynn. "What You Need to Know about ADHD Coaching". ADDitude Magazine. Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  11. ^ Shenfield, Tali (16 October 2014). "How to Develop an 'Inner Coach' in Teens with ADHD and Executive Dysfunction". Advanced Psychology: Child Psychology and Parenting Blog. Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  12. ^ Parker, David; Sawilowsky, Shlomo; Rolands, Laura (31 August 2010). "Quantifying the Effectiveness of Coaching for College Students with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder" (PDF). Edge Foundation. Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  13. ^ Koretsky, Jennifer (22 February 2012). "5 Reasons Why ADHD Coaching Doesn't Work". Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  14. ^ Stern, Lewis R. (2004). "Executive Coaching: A Working Definition" (PDF). Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research 56 (3): 154–162. doi:10.1037/1065-9293.56.3.154. 
  15. ^ "The Coaching Conundrum Report: Global Executive Summary". Princeton, NJ: Blessing White. 2009. Retrieved 22 January 2009. 
  16. ^ Jones, Rebecca J.; Woods, Stephen A.; Guillaume, Yves R. F. (April 2015). "The Effectiveness of Workplace Coaching: A Meta-Analysis of Learning and Performance Outcomes from Coaching" (PDF). Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology. doi:10.1111/joop.12119. 
  17. ^ "PCBA: Professional Business Coaches Alliance". Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  18. ^ "International Coaching Council – ICC". Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  19. ^ "Worldwide Association of Business Coaches". Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  20. ^ Lorber, Laura (10 April 2008). "Executive Coaching – Worth the Money?". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 12 November 2008. 
  21. ^ "Business coaching statistics". 29 October 2009. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  22. ^ Collins, J. Michael; Olive, Peggy; O'Rourke, Collin M. (February 2013). "Financial Coaching's Potential for Enhancing Family Financial Security". Journal of Extension 51 (1): 1FEA8. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  23. ^ Engel, Reed Jordan (2011). An Examination of Wellness Coaches and Their Impact on Client Behavioral Outcomes (Thesis). Purdue University. Retrieved 2 July 2015. 
  24. ^ Maslin Nir, Sarah (8 November 2010). "Like a Monitor More Than a Tutor". The New York Times. p. A21. Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  25. ^ Brann, Amy (2015). Neuroscience for Coaches: How to Use the Latest Insights for the Benefit of Your Clients. London; Philadelphia: Kogan Page. ISBN 9780749472375. 
  26. ^ a b Yossi, Ives; Cox, Elaine (2015). Relationship Coaching: The Theory and Practice of Coaching with Singles, Couples and Parents. Hove, East Sussex; New York: Routledge. ISBN 0415737958. 
  27. ^ Ashe-Edmunds, Sam. "What Does an Athletic Coach Do?". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  28. ^ "Code of Ethics". International Coach Federation. 
  29. ^ "Code of Ethics" (PDF). European Mentoring and Coaching Council. 
  30. ^ "Coaches Code Of Ethics". National Federation of State High School Associations. 
  31. ^ a b Guay, Jennifer (16 January 2013). "Millennials Enter Growing, Controversial Field of Life Coaching". USA Today. Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  32. ^ Morgan, Spencer (27 January 2012), "Should a Life Coach Have a Life First?", The New York Times, retrieved 4 July 2015 .
  33. ^ Pagliarini, Robert (20 December 2011). "Top 10 Professional Life Coaching Myths". CBS News. Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  34. ^ O'Brien, Elizabeth (8 September 2014). "10 Things Life Coaches Won't Tell You". MarketWatch. Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  35. ^ "List of All Accredited Coaching Training Programs (ACTP): Hour List". International Coach Federation. Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  36. ^ "Approved Coaching Specific Training Hours (ACSTH): Program Accreditation". International Coach Federation. Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  37. ^ "Accredited Coaching Training Program (ACTP): Program Accreditation". International Coach Federation. Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  38. ^ "An Overview of Licensure as a Psychologist". California Board of Psychology. Retrieved 4 July 2015.