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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 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. Since the mid-1990s, coaching has developed into a more independent discipline and professional associations such as the Association for Coaching, The International Coach Federation, and the European Coaching and Mentoring Council have helped develop a set of training standards.[4][5] Janet Harvey, president of the International Coach Federation, was quoted in a New York Times article about the growing practice of Life Coaching, in which she traces the development of coaching to the early 1970s Human Potential Movement and credited the teachings of Werner Erhard's "EST Training," the popular self-motivation workshops he designed and led in the '70s and early '80s.[6] Thomas J. Leonard who founded "Coach U", "International Coach Federation", "Coachville" and "International Association of Coaches" was an EST employee in the 1980s.[1]


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.[7] 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.[8]

Life coaching[edit]

Life coaching draws upon a variety of tools and techniques from other disciplines such as sociology, psychology, neuroscience,[9] 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 psychological counseling 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.

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[10] 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.[11]Coaches work with clients to help them better manage time, organize, set goals and complete projects.[12] 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.[13] 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.[14] 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.[15] The 2010 study from Wayne State University in Michigan 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)"[16][17] Yet, not every ADHD person needs a couch and not everyone can benefit from using a coach.[18]

Business and Executive coaching[edit]

Business coaching is a type of personnel or human resource development. It provides positive support, feedback and advice to an individual or group basis to improve their personal effectiveness in the business setting. Business coaching is also called executive coaching, corporate coaching or leadership coaching. The Professional Business Coach Alliance, The International Coach Federation, the International Coaching Council and the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches 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, reiterating the open-ended nature of business coaching. Many business coaches refer to themselves as Consultants, a broader business relationship than one which exclusively involves coaching.[19] According to a MarketData Report in 2007, an estimated 40,000 people in the US, work as business or life coaches, and the $2.4 billion industry is growing at rate of 18% per year.[20] According to the National Post, business coaching is one of the fastest growing service industries in the world.[21]

Coaches work their clients 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.[22]

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. Business coaching is not the same as mentoring. A business coach can act as a mentor given that he or she has adequate expertise and experience. However, mentorship is not a form of business coaching.[23]

Research studies suggest that executive coaching has a positive impact on workplace performance.[24]

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.

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. [25]

Divorce coaching[edit]

Divorce coaching is a flexible, goal-oriented process designed to support, motivate, and guide people going through divorce to help them make the best possible decisions for their future, based on their particular interests, needs, and concerns. Divorce coaches have different professional backgrounds and are selected based on the specific needs of the clients. For example, some divorce coaches are financial planners, mental health professionals, lawyers, or mediators who have experience dealing with divorcing clients.[26]

Financial coaching[edit]

Financial coaching is an emerging form of coaching that focuses on helping clients overcome their struggle to attain specific financial goals and aspirations they have set for themselves. At its most basic, 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. Recognizing the array of challenges inherent in behavior change, including all too human tendencies to procrastinate and overemphasize short-term gains over long-term wellbeing, they monitor their clients’ progress over time and hold the client accountable. This monitoring function is hypothesized to boost clients’ self-control and willpower. Previous studies in psychology indicate that individuals are much more likely to follow through on tasks when they are monitored by others, rather than when they attempt to ‘self-monitor’. Although early research links financial coaching to improvements in client outcomes, much more rigorous analysis is necessary before any causal linkages can be established.[27] In contrast to financial counselors and educators, financial coaches do not need to be experts in personal finance because they do not focus on providing financial advice or information to clients.

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.[28] The coach will use special techniques, personal experience, expertise and encouragement to assist the coachee in bringing his/her behavioral changes about.

Sports coaching[edit]

Main article: Coach (sport)

In sports, a coach is an individual that teaches and supervises, which involves giving directions, instruction and training of the on-nurse that their players are safe and protected during games as well as during practices. Co field operations of an athletic team or of individual athletes. This type of coach gets involved in all the aspects of the sport, including physical and mental player development. Sports coaches train their athletes to become better at the physical components of the game, while others train athletes to become better at the mental components of the game. The coach is assumed to know more about the sport, and have more previous experience and knowledge. The coach’s job is to transfer as much of this knowledge and experience to the players to develop the most skilled athletes. When coaching its entail to the application of sport tactics and strategies during the game or contests itself, and usually entails substitution of players and other such actions as needed. Many coaches work at setting their own rules and regulations. They are expected to provide and maintain a drug-free environment, act as a role model both on and off of the fields and courts. Coaches travel frequently to sporting events. Scouts may be required to travel more extensively when searching for talented athletes. Full-time coaches usually work more than 40 hours a week for several months during the sports season.[29][30][31]

Conflict coaching[edit]

Conflict coaching may be used in an organizational context or in matrimonial and other relationship matters. Like many other techniques of this nature, it is premised on the view that conflict provides an opportunity to improve relationships, to create mutually satisfactory solutions and attain other positive outcomes when differences arise between and among people.[citation needed]

Victimization coaching[edit]

Victimisation coaching is a type of life coaching that educates people who consider themselves as victims of crime or those who fear victimisation. Coaches work with groups of people to assist them on how to identify and approach potentially hazardous situations.

Christian coaching[edit]

Christian coaching is becoming more common among religious organizations and churches. 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 training courses exist, there is no single regulatory body for Christian coaching. Some of these training programs feature best-selling Christian authors, leaders, speakers or pastors. Several of these authors have developed their own coach training programs, such as Dr. Lance Wallnau, Henry Cloud and John Townsend or John C. Maxwell.

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.[citation needed]


Critics see life coaching as akin to psychotherapy but without restrictions, oversight, regulation, or established ethical policies.[32] Regulators have addressed some of these concerns on a state-by-state basis. In 2009, the State of Tennessee issued a memorandum emphasizing that life coaches may be subject to discipline if they perform activities construable as personal, marital, or family counseling.[33] Some other states have made no formal statement but have legal statutes that broadly define mental-health practice. Hawaii, for example, defines the practice of psychology as any effort aimed at behavior change or to improve "interpersonal relationships, work and life adjustment, personal effectiveness, behavioral health, [or] mental health."[34] Although such states usually provide some exclusions to licensure requirements (such as for ordained clergy), life coaches do not usually qualify for the exclusion. More favorably to life coaches, in 2004 the Colorado General Assembly specifically exempted trained life-coaches from licensure requirements that apply to other mental and behavioral health professionals in that state.[35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Renton, Jane (2009). "Coaching and Mentoring: What They Are and How to Make the Most of Them". Bloomberg Press. p. 232. ISBN 978-1576603307. 
  2. ^ Chakravarthy, P. (December 2011). "The Difference Between Coaching And Mentoring". Forbes. 
  3. ^ a b c "coach", Online Etymology Dictionary .
  4. ^ Passmore, Jonathan (2010). Excellence in Coaching: The Industry Guide. Kogan Page. p. 288. ISBN 978-0749456672. 
  5. ^ Davison M.; Gasiorowski, F. (2006). "The trend of coaching: Adler, the literature, and marketplace would agree.". Journal of Individual Psychology 62 (2): 188–201. 
  6. ^ Morgan, Spencer (27 January 2012), "Should a Life Coach Have a Life First", The New York Times .
  7. ^ Cox, E (2013), Coaching Understood, London: Sage .
  8. ^ Cox, E; Bachkirova, T; Clutterbuck, D, eds. (2010), The Complete Handbook of Coaching, London: SAGE Publications 
  9. ^ Brann, Amy (2009). "Neuroscience for Coaches: How to Use the Latest Insights for the Benefit of Your Clients". Kogan Page. p. 214. ISBN 978-0749472375. 
  10. ^ Edward M. Hallowell; John J. Ratey (15 March 1984). Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood Through Adulthood. Pantheon. p. 319. ISBN 978-0679421771. 
  11. ^ Russell A. Barkley (1 May 2012). Executive Functions: What They Are, How They Work, and Why They Evolved. The Guilford Press. p. 244. ISBN 978-1462505357. 
  12. ^ "26 Benefits of Adult ADHD Coaching". Psychology Today. 2011. 
  13. ^ "Accuracy of Self-Evaluation in Adults with ADHD". Journal of Attention Disorder. 2005. 
  14. ^ "What You Need to Know about ADHD Coaching". ADDitude Magazine. 
  15. ^ "How to Develop an “Inner Coach” in teens with ADHD and Executive Dysfunction". Advanced Psychology. 
  16. ^ "Quantifying the Effectiveness of Coaching for College Students with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder" (PDF). Edge Foundation. 
  17. ^ "LASSI (Learning and Study Strategies Inventory)". H&H Publishing. 
  18. ^ "5 Reasons Why ADHD Coaching Doesn’t Work". 
  19. ^ Lorber, Laura (10 April 2008). "Executive Coaching – Worth the Money?". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 12 November 2008. 
  20. ^ "Statistics". Business coaching. 29 October 2009. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  21. ^ "Finding answers: Why getting a business coach is a good investment". Vongehr Consulting. 13 September 2010. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  22. ^ "Siop". Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  23. ^ "The Coaching Conundrum Report". Blessing White. 2009. Retrieved 22 January 2009. 
  24. ^ Jones, R. J., Woods, S. A., Guillaume, Y. R. F.(2015). The effectiveness of workplace coaching: A meta-analysis of learning and performance outcomes from coaching. Journal of Occupational & Organizational Psychology. doi:10.111/joop.12119
  25. ^ Maslin-Nir, Sarah (November 2010). "Like a Monitor More Than a Tutor". New York Times. 
  26. ^ "Divorce Coaching". Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  27. ^ "Financial Coaching's Potential for Enhancing Family Financial Security". Journal of Extension. Journal of Extension. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  28. ^ Engel, Reed. "An examination of wellness coaches and their impact on client behavioral outcomes". Purdue University. Retrieved 5/1.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  29. ^ Turman, PD (2001), Situational Coaching Styles, Iowa: University of Northern Iowa 
  30. ^ Coach Career Survey, 2007 .
  31. ^ Respini, Blake (21 April 2005), "Helping athletes define goals", in Mackenzie, Brian; Moffett, John, Successful Coaching, pp. 8–9, ISSN 1745-7513 .
  32. ^ Sherman, Lynne, FAQ, retrieved 31 December 2012 .
  33. ^ Board of Professional Counselors, Marital and Family Therapists, and Clinical Pastoral Therapists Policy Statement Regarding Unlicensed Practice by Life Coaches (PDF), retrieved 31 December 2012 .
  34. ^ "Psychologists", Statutes (PDF), Hawaii State, retrieved 31 December 2012 
  35. ^ "Colorado Mental Health Practice Act; Title 12, Professions and Occupations, Article 43, Mental Health", Colorado Revised Statutes (PDF), Denver: UC, retrieved 2 December 2013 .