Coaching vs Teaching – What are the Differences & Similarities?



We frequently hear people discussing teachers and their teaching techniques, as well as coaches and their coaching strategies. But have you ever considered the two terms, which are not interchangeable, similar, or dissimilar?

Broadly speaking coaching is a holistic, iterative process focused on developing a specific aspect of the person being coached, whereas teaching is a linear, sequential method primarily involving one-way communication, to impart new information.

History of Coaching

There are numerous stories about the origins of coaching. It is mentioned somewhere that the term “Coach” was coined in 1830, and Oxford University defined it as slang for a tutor. Others claim that the term “coaching” originated in the later part of the 1880s. 

Who established coaching as a profession?

Coaching as a profession was established by Thomas Leonard, a financial planner from the United States, in the 1980s, who is often referred to as the “father of coaching” for his promotion of the Coach 100 approach for acquiring coaching clients. 

In 1992, John Whitmore’s book “Coaching for Performance” defined coaching as “unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their performance” and “helping them to learn rather than teaching them.” This led to the recognition of the benefits of coaching beyond sports. 

Today, coaching has evolved and encompasses a wide range of fields, including singing, dancing, writing, financial planning, and many others. 

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History of Teaching

It is unclear who the world’s first teacher was because the concept of teaching has existed for thousands of years and has evolved throughout history. Different cultures and civilizations have had their distinct forms of education and teaching. According to ancient scriptures, the first teachers in human history were most likely parents or older community members who passed on knowledge and skills to the next generation.

Recommended Reading: Top 13 Education Trends in 2023

Some key differences and similarities between the two:


Coaching and teaching both involve passing on knowledge and skills to others. Both necessitate a certain level of knowledge in the subject matter being taught or coached. Both seek to help people improve or develop in some way.


When thinking of coaching, sports coaching often comes to mind, and when thinking of teaching, educators in schools and colleges are commonly thought of.

  1. The fundamental distinction between teaching and coaching is that teaching is centered on gaining new knowledge and abilities, whereas coaching centers on honing and enhancing existing knowledge and abilities.
  2. Coaching is practical learning in the real world, whereas teaching is more theoretical in nature. Teaching focuses on acquiring new knowledge and skills, whereas coaching focuses on refining and developing existing knowledge and skills.
  3. Teaching is frequently viewed as a one-way communication in which the teacher imparts knowledge to the students, whereas coaching is a two-way conversation between the coach and the person being coached.
  4. Coaching can take place in a variety of settings, including one-on-one sessions, group sessions, or even over the phone or online, whereas teaching is typically done in a formal setting such as a classroom.
  5. Teaching is frequently perceived as a more formal process, whereas coaching is more adaptable to the individual needs of the person being coached.
  6. Teaching typically has a defined end goal and set timeline, while coaching takes place over an undefined or open-ended period of time.
  7. Coaching is concerned with directing, instructing, and training an individual or a group of people in order to achieve specific goals and objectives. While teaching, assist students in understanding and applying knowledge, concepts, and processes. It consists of the following steps: design, content selection, delivery, evaluation, and reflection.
  8. Teaching and coaching have distinct approaches. Teaching typically assumes that the student is starting from scratch and has little prior knowledge or skills, while coaching assumes that the student already has some level of knowledge or skill that needs to be refined and honed.

To summarize, teaching and coaching have different approaches, but they both impart knowledge and skills to others. They just have different focuses, settings, and approaches.

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