Coach vs Trainer

As a coach, I oftentimes encourage parents and athletes to seek extra help through a trainer both during season and off season. I try to explain to them that although I am a coach for the sport, a trainer would be able to assist them with reaching their athletic goals.

What’s the major difference between a coach and a trainer? By definition, each of 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.

At the Core

Both coaches and trainers focus on four core elements to complete their job: instruction, practice/habits, discipline and proficiency.

During the instruction component, athletes should be taught the purpose of a particular drill or exercise and how it applies/relates to their role in the sport. From this point, athletes practice these drills to develop the habits needed to be successful in their sport. Through a disciplined routine, the goal is to create proficiency in a particular area of the sport.


The key difference between a coach and a trainer is their priority: coaches are primarily focused on a team, while a trainer focuses on an individual athlete or small group. For example, if an athlete plays cornerback in high school, there is probably a defensive back coach that works with teaching proper technique, zone coverage, assignments and responsibilities. However, a personal trainer can take the same athlete and zero in on his strengths to make them stronger and improve his weaknesses. A trainer can work on speed and agility and even coverage if needed. Thus, coaches improve an athlete’s ability to benefit the team, while a trainer can improve the athlete’s ability to perform.

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