Coaches instruct and work with students and clients to prepare them for anything from performing to their peak in recreational sports to developing skills that will help them achieve life and career goals. A coach can be a private tutor, counsellor, or a life-skills coordinator. They work in a private office, out of their homes, or at accredited primary, secondary and post-secondary educational institutions.
Three primary areas for coaching are athletic coaching, career coaching and wellness coaching. Each requires a similar but varied skill set and there are many niches within each area. In addition to these concentrations, coaches may be independent contractors who specialize in relationship, parenting, business and even religious development. In fact, there is probably a coaching position for almost every area of life, business or recreation.
The coach's primary responsibility is to motivate the student or client to achieve their potential in any area or areas that need improvement. They also develop specific skill sets and goals important to the job or type of recreation. These skills vary depending on the type of mentor to student relationship.
Athletic coaches prepare athletes of all types and skill levels for competition. Through the use of training techniques and psychological motivation, athletic coaches assist students in meeting their athletic goals and keep them performing at their peak. Most athletic coaches work in secondary and post-secondary educational institutions as members of the faculty, but some positions are available at camps or locally organized sporting clubs. Athletic coaches may work with students in a variety of sports. Those at the post-secondary level will almost always teach one specific sport, whether it be basketball, football, baseball, volleyball or hockey.
Career coaches assess their client's abilities and interests as related to a career path. They then find a suitable career for the client, and equip them with the appropriate technical and interpersonal skills for that job. Coaches may make the career suggestion based on the client's educational background, or advise the client to seek more education in order to pursue an appropriate career. Career coaches also assess their client's personalities through the use of scientific tests and familiarize themselves with all types of careers in order to find the best match based on a client's personality. Desired income and type of work environment is also taken into consideration.
Wellness coaches offer an entirely different type of service, in that they focus entirely on personal health and well-being. These coaches are responsible for ensuring their clients avoid high-risk behaviours, stay on track with a plan for becoming physically fit, and attain mental clarity and an overall positive attitude. From breaking a smoking habit, to maintaining a healthy diet and developing positive interpersonal relationships, wellness coaches assist clients in meeting these and any other goals that relate to their lifestyle.
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Students and clients expect coaches to be high-achievers, since the goal of coaching is to help others achieve goals they might not otherwise meet. Coaches should be highly successful in their area of expertise. They should also be confident and possess strong interpersonal, communication and writing skills.
Almost all coaching positions require a minimum of a bachelor's degree, and some require a master's degree in the candidate's area of expertise. Prospective athletic coaches may also have to be certified for teaching and hold a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification. Career and wellness coaches may be required to hold counselling licensure as well. Licensing and certifications required will vary depending on the state, region or country in which the coach works.
The working environment for coaches is as varied as the types of coaches that exist. Athletic coaches, depending on the type of sport, will spend much of their time outdoors. In most cases they should be physically fit themselves, and will endure long hours on their feet instructing students in various forms of exercise and game play. Their schedule is usually very structured and consistent, but they may have to travel on weekends and holidays in order to attend games and practices.
Coaches who act as independent contractors can have a very inconsistent schedule. They may work weekends or evenings in an attempt to accommodate client schedules. In some cases, clients will come to the coach's home or office for the purpose of coaching. In other cases, coaches travel to their clients for private sessions.
Often, large corporations hire wellness coaches to assist with improving their employees habits. Coaches in these positions will benefit from a stable and dependable working environment with regular hours. Additional responsibilities of these positions may include participating in staff meetings and attending company activities.