Coach or Teacher?

Coaching and teaching are closely related but NOT the same.  In my view, the main difference lies in the speed of the feedback the coach gets from the student / athlete as compared with the feedback the teacher gets.  In essence, the coach gets very rapid feedback (within seconds or minutes) to his or her coaching.  The student’s response can be seen and evaluated almost immediately and there can be several iterations of this loop during a coaching session.  A teacher by contrast, gets relatively little feedback immediately and may have to wait days or weeks for an essay or exam result to provide that feedback on the student’s progress.

This is one of the reasons I’m a coach and not a teacher.  The progress an athlete or crew can make in a single session is always very satisfying and motivational, for both the coach and crew.  By the same token, one tends not to spend too much time on techniques which do not work.

That said, I think coaches have much to learn from professional teachers, particularly in the positive support and reinforcement offered to students during the learning process.  This is very important when coaching juniors.  Young athletes sometimes lack confidence and can be quickly discouraged if they encounter difficulties.  A good coach will notice this and work with the athlete to resolve the issue or move on to another exercise which the athlete will find easier.


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