equestrian coach education international

TeachCoachPolish2Polishing or coaching - what is the difference?

We know about teaching and we’re used to thinking in terms of coaching but what exactly is polishing? Furthermore, how, exactly, does it differ from coaching? These are perfectly valid questions given that polishing is a new concept in coach education. Let’s start with getting our heads around the whole idea:

  • Teaching is the facilitation of learning a new skill
  • Coaching is the development of that well-taught skill to a higher standard
  • Then just add to this... Polishing is the refining and enhancing of a well-coached skill, until the rider can perform is automatically and autonomously, in any circumstances.


Polishing cannot occur before there has been coaching. If you are to polish a skill it must first be well-coached. In turn, this skill must have been well-taught (otherwise it was never ready to be coached.) If you miss the middle step of it being well-coached, and try to polish a well-taught skill, i.e. one that has not yet been coached, the rider’s performance will fall apart and you are likely to get a whole lot worse outcome than you had before you started polishing anything at all.

I was interested to watch a long-jumper at Rio who rushed back to her coach after a bad jump. She was given multiple technical corrections of what to do with her arms, feet and head (you can imagine how many of them she remembered in the middle of an Olympic arena!) and needless to say her second jump was worse than her first one. You might reasonably suppose that as an Olympic athlete she would know the technicalities of her sport. If she did, then her coach was contributing nothing except stress to her performance. If she didn’t, then surely she shouldn’t have been there at all, for the Olympics is no place to learn them!

What she got was coaching. What she needed was polishing. Being reminded of the triggers for her mental rehearsal or her one or two personalized buzz words for her techniques to control her arousal level, would undoubtedly have been more constructive and would have had a much better chance of improving her performance. Alas, by then she had failed to qualify for the final. This story illustrates the difference between coaching and polishing. For more, watch this space!

Articles in Polishing Volume I

Polishing - the concept (*)

polishing glassTopics in this article

  • Polishing - the new concept
  • At what level should you polish
  • Polishing for competition
  • Simulation
  • Rehearsals
  • Polishing at different standards
  • Polishing the horse
  • The process

Teach, Coach & Polish

TeachCoachPolish2Topics in the article

  • TCP - the concept
  • TCP & the three stages of learning
  • Nuts and bolts of TCP
  • Assessing performance as first step
  • Tips and conclusion

TCP - how to decide what to do

tpc questionTopics in this article

  • Practicalities behind your decisions
  • Questions and answers
  • The individual mix
  • Principles in action
  • Tips

TCP - Is the mix right?

oopsTopics in this article

  • What if the TCP mix is less-than-best for your rider
    • beginner level
    • novice level
    • intermediate level
    • advanced & elite level
  • Key to success

Polishing the horse for competition

time for polishing the horsesTopics in this article

  • Why we should polish
  • Goals and objectives of polishing
  • The horse's skill set
  • How to create the best of the best

Polishing for you - part of your PD

growth concept M16BXOwOTopics in this article

Complimentary but essential skills for your PD

  • Telephone skills
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Negotiation
  • Public speaking
  • Time management
  • Professional writing