What is a Coaching Triad?

A triad is a commonly used training structure that has three people practicing a particular skill set. Commonly, triads are used in health services, journalism or investigator training programs, as well as other industries.

In the case of CoachingTriads.com, we are facilitating coaching triads for those practicing to become coaches. Those who are already coaching can also join so they can practice their own skills, or to donate their time to support students.

The Coaching Triad has three participants: Coach, Coachee and Observer. Each person rotates through each role to complete the entire cycle.

Example of the Coaching Triad cycle:

Round 1

Participants decide who will coach first, who will be coached and who will observe.

  • Sara-Lynne – Coach
  • Jose – Coachee
  • Sabina – Observer

Sara-Lynne coaches Jose for 30 minutes. Sabina listens, without interupting, taking notes about what Sara-Lynne did well and what she could have done differently.

When the 30 minutes is up, Jose spends a few minutes telling Sara-Lynne what he liked and what could have worked better. Sara-Lynne takes notes and says “Thank You”

Then Sabina provides Sara-Lynne with her constructive feedback about specifics that she heard. She will relate specific examples of things that were well done, and things that might be approached differently. Feedback is supportive, positive and non-judgmental at all times. Sara-Lynne takes notes and says “Thank You”

Round 2

Agree who is going to be in each role for this round.

  • Jose – Coach
  • Sabina – Coachee
  • Sara-Lynne – Observer

Jose coaches Sabina with Sara-Lynne now the observer, following the same process in round 1.

Round 3

Each participant should now be shifting to the role they have not yet practised today.

  • Sabina – Coach
  • Sara-Lynne – Coachee
  • Jose – Observer

Sabina coaches Sara-Lynne with Jose now the observer, following the same process as before.

Once the three participants have taken a turn in each role, time permitting, the three participants may choose to debrief the session together.

The Triad is complete. Congratulations!!! This is also the end of our example.

Tips and Tricks

  • If any of the rounds are going to be recorded, once the recording starts, the Coach should ask the Coachee for their permission to record. This is especially important if the recording will be used as a homework assignment in your training program.
  • The rotation doesn’t have to be Coach to Observer. The person who was the Coachee may want to observe the next round, especially if being coached was emotional for them.
  • It may be helpful between each of round 2 and round 3 to take a couple minutes to reset and mentally prepare to transition into the next type of role.
  • Feedback should always be supportive and affirming, as well as specific and about behaviours. For example, “Coach, when you asked the coachee ‘Do you have any other ideas?’, I noticed this was a yes/no question. It might have been even better if you had asked the coachee: “What other ideas come to mind?” and “Coach, I could really hear how your tone of voice, and your speed of speaking followed the coachee and helped them to keep momentum.” Your training program may have materials on how to do effect feedback in a coaching practice session.
  • If one of the triad members cancels, there’s no need to cancel your practice session! Instead, just eliminate the steps where the observer provides feed back. This will be great practice for you when you are coaching others!

Bottom line – have fun!!

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Supporting coaches to become the best professionals that they can be by facilitating connections that allow student coaches and practicing coaches to create interactions of coach-coachee-observer. Creating these opportunities allows for coaching exchanges and constructive discussions about continual improvement that meet coaching training program and professional development needs.


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