The history of coaching


Empowerment Coaching Blog-The history of coaching
University of Oxford by Pexel

IXX Century

According to Wikipedia, the first use of the term coach to refer to the concept of an instructor or trainer appeared around 1830 at the University of Oxford to refer to the tutor who "carried" the student through the exam. The word coaching thus defined a specific process of "transporting people" from where they are to the place they want to be.


As a curiosity, according to one theory, the English word coach comes from the French word coche, which in turn originated from the name of the Hungarian town of Kòcs, where the first carriage (wagon) was constructed in the 16th century. The noun became a verb and the "coachemen" began to describe their activity as coaching. 😊


In 1849, Thackeray describes the coach for the first time as a tutor.


In 1861, the trainer who prepared athletes for competitions at the University of Oxford began to be called the coach.


XX Century

In the twentieth century, the development of coaching was influenced by many areas, in particular the self-development movements that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s. Such as, for example, the Human Potential Movement and various groups such as LGAT (large-group awareness training), such as, for example, EST (short for Erhard Seminars Training).


In addition, leadership studies began and the development of psychology accelerated. In 2000, the University of Sydney established the world's first coaching psychology research unit, and in the following years, the first academic journals on coaching psychology were published.


Development causes coaching to change from an instruction process to a process that facilitates and supports development. As a result, in 1994 coaching is defined in the academic world as:


A process of continuous on-the-job training conducted by an individual on a regular basis with the intention of developing another person's skills” (Ritter, 1994, p. 7).


As the years go by, the sheer popularity of the coaching approach causes enormous confusion. It moves to the business world. And in the meantime, mentoring begins to develop, about which I will write more in a separate post on David Clutterbuck described as the father of modern mentoring. Clutterbuck writes in 2008:

"At the same time as we begin to clarify what makes for effective coaching and mentoring,however, the very popularity of the approach has resulted in greater confusion. Almost everyrelated profession has participated in a land-grab, trying to stake out its own coaching territory,with definitions, rules and practices based on its own particular perspectives and interests."

This great "boom" is probably best shown in the following graph:


The History of Coaching - citations 1935-2019
Source: International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring 2021, Vol. 19(1)

So let's at least try to find out and determine what is clear and unquestionable in the history of coaching development.


Business Coaching

The "authorship" of the concept of Performance Coaching and the laying of the foundations for the billion-dollar business coaching industry is rather unquestionable.


The creator of the concept of Performance Coaching was Sir John Whitmore (1937-2017). Sir John coined the term in the 1980s to describe this self-directed learning process and to distinguish it from sports coaching. As a co-creator of the GROW coaching model (short for Goal, Reality, Options, Will), he created a foundation that has been adopted by business coaches all over the world.