Coaching vs. Programming: Is There a Difference?

initially a note post on my Facebook Page

Wait, if you’re programming for an athlete, aren’t you coaching them? I don’t see it that way.

Programming is writing out a specific training or nutrition program to cater to an athlete’s goal, whether it be improving their powerlifting total or body composition, etc. A knowledgeable exercise physiologist or personal trainer will be able to control training parameters well enough for their athletes to reach their goals effectively but a coach’s role extends beyond that.

Along side programming skills, a coach must be able to:

  • Work WITH the person, not on.
  • Dictate the training process and outline process-oriented goals
  • Ensure that the athlete is tune with the process. So much can be learned working with a coach compared to jumping on a cookie cutter template program... HOWEVER, it is not uncommon for athletes to perform better on a cookie cutter program (over-individualization is problematic, more on this in another article).
  • Effectively communicate with the athlete; this means communicating in a way the athlete can best understand what you expect out of them and what you’re teaching them
  • Create curiosity in athletes, encourage questions and appropriately answer them (not just a “I’m the coach, you’re doing this cause I say so”)
  • Understand that training and performance is multi-factorial, and that your athlete experience multiple stressors out of your control
  • Care about their athletes. If you don’t give a shit about your athletes or clients, just write a training template and sell that. Simple as that.