Coach and trainer synergy

When it comes to sports, there are essential differences between the two roles that must be taken into consideration.

Published : Nov 08, 2019 15:50 IST

When the synergy between the coaches and the support staff is at its best, the team and players will be in a good space both mentally and physically to win major tournaments.
When the synergy between the coaches and the support staff is at its best, the team and players will be in a good space both mentally and physically to win major tournaments.

When the synergy between the coaches and the support staff is at its best, the team and players will be in a good space both mentally and physically to win major tournaments.

What’s the major difference between a coach and a trainer? By definition, these individuals may have the same duties and roles. But when it comes to sports, there are essential differences that must be taken into consideration.

A coach often encourages parents and athletes to seek extra help through a strength-and-conditioning coach both during the season and the off season to reach the desired goals.

Focusing on core area of competence

Both coaches and trainers focus on four core fundamentals to complete their job: teaching, preparation and practice, discipline and know-how.

During the teaching component, athletes should be taught the purpose of a particular drill or exercise and how it applies or relates to their role in the sport. From this point, athletes prepare and practise these specific drills to develop the modes needed to be successful in their sport. Through a well-organised routine, the goal is to create know-how in a particular area of the sport and skill.

Key differences

The coach primarily focuses on a team, while a trainer focuses on an individual athlete or team. For example, if an athlete plays either a pull shot in cricket, a backhand cross-court shot in tennis, a smash in badminton or a forehand down-the-line shot in table tennis at any level, the coach will analyse the shot and teach proper technique, zone coverage, assignments and tasks.

However, with the coach’s recommendations, the trainer can take the athlete and zone in on strengths and weakness in key areas, be it strength, power, agility, anticipation or reflexes, and improve on the required domain. Thus, a coach improves the athlete’s ability to benefit the team, while a trainer can improve the athlete’s ability to perform at his or her best.


Points to ponder


· The coach should not interfere in the day-to-day strength and conditioning on the technical side, while at the same time provide inputs on each player’s fitness needs.

· Are up-to-date on the latest trends and techniques in strength and conditioning and share his or her views with the support staff and research subjects.

· The coach should be open to having strength-and-conditioning specialists, nutritionists, physiotherapists, massage therapists, etc., as part of the team to achieve excellence.

· Many coaches who have played at the highest level understand each player’s needs and requirements at every stage of competition and adapt the training accordingly.

· Are open to new suggestions in training and testing and also prehab and rehab protocols in tandem with the physiotherapists.

· Coaches get updates from all the support staff on a daily basis like running notes.

· Encouragement from the coaches when the support staff does well in his or her profession for the betterment of the team.

· An open line of communication is very essential for team and player’s benefit.

· The coach brings out the best not only in the players, but also the support staff.


· A coach or trainer prioritising himself or herself above the players and other support staff.

· Taking up all roles in spite of limited knowledge or competence.

· Insecurity creeping in regarding performance of the players or team.

· Does not share real-time communication with the support staff or players.

· A lack of process and protocols in accordance with the needs of the team.

· Talking about old times – unwilling to adapt according to the changing dynamics and time.

· Using unethical methods to enhance the players’ performance.

· A commercial mindset creeps in as opposed to focusing on result-oriented goals.

· At times, the coach is seen more on the front lines than rather behind the scenes working quietly with the support staff.

· Being verbally or physically abusive towards the players and support staff.

· A lack of tact in maintaining confidentiality.

· Not open to the point of view or opinions of others.

· Dependent on bookish knowledge or other impertinent sources.

· Not giving due respect to other professionals hired by the team management.

· Starting to interfere in all aspects of the support staff’s domain.

· Often wants all the accolades for himself or herself rather than sharing and acknowledging the valuable contributions of the support staff.

When the synergy between the coaches and the support staff is at its best, the team and players will be in a good space both mentally and physically to win major tournaments. This brings the best out of each player in the team on a winning mindset. Few example, I have personally been involved in many occasions – the 2007 ICC World Twenty20, the 2008-2009 A1 Grand Prix season, the 2009 Emerging Players Tournament, the 2011 cricket World Cup, the 2011 Champions League Twenty20, the 2013 Champions Trophy, the 2016-2017 Vijay Hazare and Duleep Trophy tournaments, the 2018 Indian Premier League, the 2019 world ranking table tennis tournaments and many more.

High performance with synergy

1. Accomplishments: All staff members share their success proudly and equally among themselves and the players.

2. Culture: The team’s dynamics and standard of behaviour are pertinent to every member to making it work accordingly.

3. Conflict: Conflict is dispensed with an open line of communication, which is considered important for administrative purposes and the growth of the team.

4. Decisions: Authority and decision-making boundaries are clearly understood and followed to the T.

5. Efficiency: Team meetings are important, and the team should look to spending more time together.

6. Individual personas: The support staff members should feel that their distinctive characters are valued and well-employed.

7. Primacies: Each coaching staff member exactly knows what needs to be done at every stage, by whom, and when, to achieve team goals.

8. Priorities: Each coaching staff member should proudly share a sense of the team’s core and be invested in accomplishing the mission and vision.

9. Preparation: Provision for feedback and updating of skills should happen smoothly and should percolate among the players successfully.

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