What does ‘Coaching’ really mean?

The term coaching is used for a diverse range of activities. It is probably one of the most overused terms. No wonder it creates lots of confusion and this article is aimed at providing a peek into the source of confusion and sorting it out for the audience to help them develop an informed and critical perspective about coaching.

In popular discussions, the term ‘coach’ is used to mean…
– Sports Coach: The coach who helps sportspersons reach their potential. Here the coach has generally been a sportsperson before venturing into being a coach. In this kind of coaching, usually, there is a strong selection process and affiliation with professional bodies is a pre-requisite. In most countries, there are regulations to govern coaching practice in this area.

– Education Coach: The coach who helps students study better, get better marks in the exam, navigate the admission process, draft a proper statement of purpose or motivation letter and put their best image to get admitted into the desired institute/course. The coach here might come from any stream of life and claim to do or be anything he/she likes. There are no regulations in most countries to regulate the coaching practice in this area.

– Career Guidance/development Coach: The coach who helps students and working professionals at all levels with their next career move — from identifying ideal career path to prepare Résumé, application form, interview, salary negotiation etc. There are no formal regulations to govern this kind of coaching practices in most countries however in some there are regulations. This kind of coaching is also filled with self-styled ‘expert coaches’ who claim to do miracles.

– Life, Relationship Coach: The coach who helps people navigate their relationship and life goals – have better relations, greater satisfaction/happiness from their life and relationships. In this kind of coaching also there are no regulations in most countries and consequently, there are more crooks than credible professionals in this area.

– Health, Nutrition, Fitness Coach: The coach who helps people be physically healthy and fit. In most countries, this is regulated and people willing to practice this kind of coaching as a profession must go through training, licensing exam and apprenticeship to be qualified to guide others. However, in many countries, it is not regulated.

– Leadership and Executive Coaching: The coach who helps employees to be prepared to face the next level challenge in their professional journey and develop the mindset necessary to operate efficiently in a complex business environment. This is largely unregulated in most countries but there are multiple ‘associations’ of professional coaches in this area that provide training, guidance and accreditation to their members. There are generally two kinds of coaches in this field — 1. those who worked for nearly a decade and realized that they are actually better of helping others rather than doing it by themselves and became a coach. 2. those who were promoted to the level of their incompetence and now have no steps to climb in the corporate ladder. Being a coach is a graceful alternative to premature retirement.

In addition to the above, there are many old professions that are now remodelled as ‘coaching’ because coaching is more fashionable nowadays.

Hope this article gave you a better understanding of what coaching is and what to expect while looking for a coach. Please share your experience of being a coach / being a receiver of coaching services. Your experience might help someone…

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