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Why are coaches so rare?

Updated: Feb 10, 2022

Manchester United without Sir Alex Ferguson, British Cycling without Dave Brailsford or Adam Peaty without Mel Marshall? Unthinkable. But progressing in your own career without a coach is the norm.

But we believe passionately in the value of conversations with a non-judgemental outsider, someone who will ask the right questions and challenge you in the right way, to allow you to unlock your potential.


Ever wondered why a sports coach is named after a bus? Well, because that’s where the word came from. The Hungarian town of Kocs pioneered the design of a small horse-drawn carriage. The word then reached western Europe where it became ‘coach’, meaning a carriage. In the nineteenth century the word started to be used to refer to athletic trainers by virtue of the fact they carry the athlete to their destination.

The impact of a coach sits somewhere on a spectrum between a peripheral person to provide external feedback, to the view of former British Swimming Performance Director Bill Sweetenham who once declared, ‘swimmers are only as good as their coaches’.

Either way, coaches are as common in sport as lycra and trainers. Not even an under-9 football team would take to the field without a coach. But flip across to the workplace, and coaches are rare. They are becoming more common – a reverse trajectory to the dodo, for example – but are still a rare sighting. Why?

It’s probably because sport requires the acquisition of specific physical skills. In work, once you’ve mastered the technical skills to do your job, there’s not much else to learn. But this is the key point: sports coaches also work on personal development, soft skills, teamwork, confidence and the like – all the stuff a personal coach will through with you. But those aren’t the aspects of sports coaching that people talk about.


So maybe stop thinking about the tactical masterclass that Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola delivers in his team. And start considering he also inspires players to be more confident, fluent, communicative, and resilient through his coaching.

Just a horse-drawn carriage? Think about starting your coaching journey today.


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