What is coaching really about?

by | May 10, 2023 | Coaching, Employee Engagement | 0 comments

As we celebrate International Coaching Week, I thought I would share how I have used coaching outside of the workplace.

Several years ago, I was a volunteer instructor with British Waterski & Wakeboard and was one of the first coaches to qualify in the UK for my discipline! 

This was the result of a new coaching approach that stepped away from previous traditional teaching methods, which were defined by more of a ‘tell’ style and were usually quite loud! 📢

When we started to adopt a more structured approach to coaching and changed the ‘Tell’ to ‘Ask’, the results were immediate.


Training is ‘Telling’ — Coaching is ‘Asking’!


I remember trying to explain (whilst standing in a boat and talking to the skier in the water) how to ‘turn a buoy’ or ‘cross the wake’ at speed, but without me getting in the water and physically showing them how to do it, it was very difficult. 

When using the “in-the-moment” coaching approach, I would ask the skier: “What happened?” immediately after either missing the turn buoy or losing control over the wake.

This way the skier would be able to reflect on the events and then be able to self-identify what happened and what they could do to improve.

Afterwards, we would run the slalom course again and celebrate the success as they showed improvement (which would happen every time due to self-reflection and “in-the-moment coaching”). 

We also used a recorded coaching approach, by reviewing video footage of the training session, so the skier could watch and review their performance, and identify areas of improvement. 🙌

The photo here shows the handle being held too high. It should be lower and closer to the body, increasing the centre of gravity and reducing the potential of losing control and getting what we lovingly called a ‘Face Plant’ … Quite painful to experience, fun to watch on a video, and most importantly, an opportunity to reinforce a learning point!!

Coaching is a fantastic tool to use in sports and my personal life.

I have also used it with my children. My oldest son (now 33 years old) used to call it ‘The Whammy’, as he thought it was a magic trick to get him to remember how to do things!

No matter what you are doing, if it’s work, a sport, or personal life, coaching can help implement the learning that sticks and improvements that create long-term benefits.


At The Motivation Agency, we are passionate about empowering people in their development journeys.

Our E-Learning course Continue & Begin Fast Coaching Online has been developed in partnership with Nick Drake-Knight (internationally acclaimed coach, motivational speaker and author) and is a great tool for line managers to fully immerse themselves into a coaching role before practising with real people.


Hugh Lawson

Hugh Lawson

Learning and Development Trainer

An expert in behavioural change, Hugh has had a wide range of successes in coaching people over the last 20 years.

From working with UK household names such as Jardine Motors Group in the automotive sector and Shell in the petroleum industry to becoming a Coach for the British Waterski & Wakeboard Federation, Hugh has proven the effectiveness of great coaching more than once during his career.