Etymologically, the English term “coach” is derived from a means of transport that traces its origins to the Hungarian word kocsi meaning “carriage” that was named after the village of Kocs, where it was first made in the 15th century. In contrary to the previously used carriages, the newly built „kocsi” was light and fast, and due to its flexibility, was comfortable enough to become well-known and popular all over Europe. It was a device that could carry people from one place to another.
[quote align=”right” color=”#808080″] Some other languages also integrated the word in everyday vocabulary, such as the German Kutsche, the Catalan cotxe, the Spanish coche, the Dutch koets, or the Swedish kusk. [/quote]
The first use of the term “coach”, as an instructor or trainer arose around 1830 in Oxford University as a slang word for a private tutor, who “carries” a student through an exam. Coaching thus has been used to describe the process to transport people from where they are, to where they want to be. The first use of the term in relation to sports came in 1831, and by 1885 it was a widely used expression both in the United Kingdom and the United States. The most popular athletes and sports teams had their own coaches, but an expanded meaning also evolved, to relate to tutoring, advising and training.
The expression was still primarily used in relation to sports in the USA. It first appeared in the business world, when Timothy Gallwey published his book “The Inner Game of Tennis” in 1974. [quote align=”left” color=”#808080″]The writer, who was also captain of the Harvard tennis team, suggested that “the opponent within one’s own head is more formidable than the one on the other side of the net.”[/quote]
Gallwey’s theory became better known, when he and the other father of coaching, Sir John Whitmore (a British racing driver) began to organize trainings for athletes, along the above line of thought. It was not much longer, that a demand appeared from the athletes to somehow transfer the system to support business development.
Today, business and life coaching has become one of the fastest growing industries in the world. It has come a long way from the comfortable, flexible “coach” for transportation, to the personal “coach”, who supports leaders, entrepreneurs and everyday people to discover and develop their hidden potential, and to maximize their performance.