What is coaching - Pt1

The concise Oxford dictionary states that the verb coach is to train or instruct. The origins of the term have been deliberated for some time.


Sir John Whitmore suggests that the concept of coaching originated in sport, whereas Hendrickson’s explanation is far more romantic and imaginative. He suggests that the word can be traced back to the village of Kocs in Hungary. In the 15th Century, an unknown carriage maker from Kocs devised a larger and more efficient carriage than anything that was available at the time. It was called a Koczi szeter that translated to a “wagon of Kocs” which in turn was shortened to kocsi. Over time the name grew popular in Europe, it became kutsche in German, coche in French and coach in English. Hendrickson also suggests that the modern day use of the word is a metaphor where “coach” was applied first of all in education. In 18th Century England, students used tutors to pass exams. The slang reference for tutors became “coach” as they quickly and comfortably carried their students to their goal of passing their exams (Hendrickson, 2000).


There is an undeniable close affiliation with sport whenever the word coach or coaching is discussed and for obvious reasons. The term has been associated with sports since the 19th Century (Day, 2012). In the modern day, visions of sports teams and athletes spring to mind when the term coach is discussed.


The word coaching can arguably be subjective and contextualised and has problems with its own definition (Ives, 2008). Due to the mass application of modern day coaching techniques across varying practices, it is conceivable that its interpretation may be diluted or confusing to the general masses or newcomers into the coaching world.


Whitmore portrays coaching as “optimising people’s potential and performance” (2009). Evered and Selman state, “to coach means to convey a valued colleague from where he or she is to where he or she wants to be” (1989). These two statements combined are an excellent summary and concise explanation in my opinion of what is meant by the term coaching.


Coaching is a process that enables learning and development to occur and thus performance to improve (Parsloe and Wray, 2000). Downey romantically states that coaching becomes a dance between two people moving in harmony and partnership (1999). This statement by Downey implies that the relationship between the coach and the coachee requires a level of intimacy. The relationship between both parties can have an effect upon the coaching process in both positive and negative ways.


It is apparent then that coaching is by any definition, a passage of information between two or more individuals that have similar or complementary desired outcomes from the interaction.


To be continued...

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