Muay Thai Trainer vs Muay Thai Coach

Trainer vs Coach: The Differences

Everybody has their own definition of a muay Thai trainer and a muay Thai coach. There is no right or wrong answer, but they serve very different purposes, in my opinion.

The word “coach” and “trainer” get used interchangeably, even by me, so I thought I’d write this post to separate the two definitions in my own head and hopefully give other people an insight into the difference between a muay Thai coach and a muay Thai trainer.

Let’s look at some of the things that trainers and coaches both appear to do, and then delve into the intricacies of what they do differently.


A muay Thai trainer tells you what to see

A muay Thai coach shows you where to look

There is no right or wrong in muay Thai, only different ways of doing things to achieve a particular result.

A trainer can teach you a technique and ask you to replicate it, but that’s where the learning ends.

A coach explains why he is doing it that way, the risks associated with the technique, the advantages, follow-up techniques, and will show you other possible ways of achieving the same outcome.


A muay Thai trainer can teach you a style

A muay Thai coach helps you find your own style

Being able to teach different muay Thai styles is a basic skill which all trainers/coaches should have.

A trainer teaches you their own style.

A coach uses his/her analysis skills to help pave the way for you to find a style which is best suited to you.


A muay Thai trainer watches

A muay Thai coach analyses

Certain times in class such as shadow boxing or sparring gives the trainer/coach a chance to stand back and observe the students.

A trainer watches out for technical errors and corrects them if need be.

A coach corrects technical errors, but is also in analysis mode to assess for strengths/weaknesses and tactical advice for future reference.


A muay Thai trainer talks to you

A muay Thai coach has a conversation

A trainer takes a very autocratic stance and “teaches” the class what he thinks they need to be taught.

A coach allows input from his athletes and invites questions to enhance the learning process.


A muay Thai trainer is knowledgable in muay Thai

A muay Thai coach is multi-faceted

In an ideal world every muay Thai gym would have its own technical coach, strength and conditioning coach, sports therapist, nutritionist, sports psychologist etc etc. However, this is rarely the case in our sport.

A trainer teaches a generic class which consists of a standard warm up protocol which doesn’t take into account the individual’s specific needs in terms of weak links. He has very little knowledge of any of the aforementioned skills and probably dishes out hundreds of press ups every session to compensate for his own weaknesses.

A coach knows how important the other skills are and that they underpin all of the work that is done in the muay Thai gym, so he tries to educate himself with what little spare time he has so he can produce better muay Thai athletes.


A  muay Thai trainer teaches a student

A muay Thai coach guides the individual

Muay Thai can’t be taught using a “one size fits all” approach.

A trainer teaches everybody the same way, regardless of their strength, weaknesses, style.

A coach can assess the physical and mental attributes of a student and coach him/her in a way which most benefits them.


A muay Thai trainer does what is required

In my eyes, a trainer does all the things required of him, but generally just “goes through the motions”. There are two main reasons for this: a) a lack of enthusiasm or b) a lack of ability. In either case, success in producing world class fighters will be hard to come by and athletes training under him will not reach their potential.

This is NOT a dig at those who call themselves trainers; “trainer” is just the word I use to define this type of person.


A muay Thai coach goes the extra mile

In a world where financial reward as a muay Thai coach is usually very small, it is neccessary for the coach to go above and beyond the call of duty to produce the best possible athletes. Individualisation is probably the most important skill to implement, along with some knowledge of other athletic needs such as strength and conditioning and nutrition.

Individualisation will often need to be addressed outside of normal class times due to time constraints and high student numbers during class.

All competitive athletes should have a strength and conditioning program, and at least be pointed in the right direction to research nutrition. Extra technical instruction can be given in one-on-one sessions or a few classes can be dedicated to helping that student prepare for an upcoming bout by focusing on what he/she wants to work on specifically at that time.

About Aaron Jahn

Aaron is an active muay Thai fighter and coach from the UK. He holds a BSc (hons) degree in Strength & Conditioning and is currently studying a Sports Therapy Master's degree in Leeds, UK. Aaron has fought over 20 times in Thailand and has spent years training at different muay Thai camps all over the country.


  1. This may be one of my favourite posts on MT Scholar. I hadn’t even thought of the difference between the two terms – Additionally it gives a lot of people a better understanding of what to look for, of what is possible (ie if they’re in a gym without a coach). Brilliant.

    • Ah thanks! Yeah, I guess if somebody has only been trained by one person/gym then they may not know the difference.

  2. great article as usual Aaron, from what u described the trainer concept will be equivalent to the 9-5 typical office employer who goes to his work everyday ,he is doing his job of course but he is only looking forward to see the clock turns 5pm. i believe that in the ideal world the person who “teaches” muay thai should be applying both terms but of course not so many have such ability/talent/dedication…that’s why remarkable couches are only few i guess.

    • Thanks. You’re right, some CAN’T become coaches (they don’t have the ability) and some WON’T (they don’t have the passion). Tying to find somebody with the right abilities AND passion for muay Thai is difficult.

      • precisely, and specially after the gambling business is controlling the sport in Thailand most of the time…i begin to think that real couches will eventually be tailoring their efforts to serve that business or quit producing the saenchai and pornsanae kinda fighters,with all respect to the new generation of course.

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