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  • Why Sports Coaching and Professional Coaching Are Different?

When we talk about coaching, we usually think of sports coaching. Athletics, soccer, golf, swimming, tennis, badminton are a few sports we commonly relate to coaching. And when we say coaching in the workplace, we would imagine the same approach - give guidance, inspire, and correct our people to achieve higher performance.

Is there a big difference between sports coaching and professional coaching? The answer is, no big difference. But they are not exactly the same in many small ways.

Objective wise, sport and professional coaching are there to help the player's (coachee) uncover hidden potential and perform at the peak level. Both types of coaching recognize the importance of developing a stronger mind. A great coaching session eliminates the negative voice inside our mind so that we are 'liberated' to perform and achieve breakthrough results. The world-famous Harvard tennis captain turned coach, Timothy Gallwey in his book The Inner Game of Tennis says, there is a 'teller' and 'doer' inside us. These two entities separate us from performing at our best natural capability. Coaching aims to build deeper relationships between them and move forward as one entity.

Sports Coaching

Here, we see how Sports Coaches instruct the players' positioning, draw up tactical diagrams, strategize movements, give encouragements to the players, and yell at the players and referees sometimes. And we think this is the same happen in executive coaching. Not entirely true. We'll talk about it in the next section.

Interestingly, what happens behind the scenes in sports coaching are different. In between the tournaments, the Sports Coach watch the recorded tapes together with the players, give feedback, retrain, and shadow coaches them. He sits down with the players and asks questions about their performance - questions that related to what went well and what can be better next time. In addition, he asks and understands what really motivates each player and what they need in order to perform better in the next game.

Professional Coaching

Professional Coaches are the same as Sports Coaches behind the scene. Their conversations focus on present and future, goal-driven, and behavioural change for better performance. A Coach asks questions to elicit the Coachee's self-limiting beliefs, self discover the blind spots, and move forward with more powerful action plans.

Take a look at the table below for a comparison summary between sports coaching and professional coaching:



Sport games

Leadership, business, career, life, financial, relationship, etc.


Improve behavioural and performance for goal achievements.

Improve behavioural and performance for goal achievements.


Transfer formal and tacit knowledge, skills, best practices, experience, wisdom and mindset.

Help individuals or groups self discover and take ownership to achieve the desired goal.

Method used

Directive and non-directive methods

Non-directive method

Communication style

Organise, teach, advise, support, and supervise.

Empower, facilitate, validate, and support.

Whether it is Sports Coaching or Professional Coaching, they help individuals uncover their blind spots, remove self-limiting beliefs, and perform differently for better results.

About the Author

Simon is the ICF-Professional Certified Coach (PCC), Certified Trainer, Facilitator, Coach Trainer, and Food Service Specialist. He specialises in business selling, leadership development, and coaching culture building.

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