Trainers

Today an athlete is surrounded by a professional entourage: an attendant massages him before and after the contest, a trainer or coach determines his training schedule and diet and a sports doctor follows his physical condition. This was very similar in Antiquity.

Massagists, trainers and doctors were employed by gymnasia and even by individual top athletes. There were two types of trainer: the 'paidotribes' and the 'gymnastes'. The difference between the two varied according to place and time and their function partially overlapped. The paidotribes ('he who massages boys') had a rather practical orientation, e.g. he taught boys the different wrestling holds. The gymnastes was a scientist of sports: he possessed theoretical knowledge about which training methods and nutrition were the best.

The trainers sometimes shared in the glory of the victory. Pindarus sometimes names them in his victory odes and also honorific inscriptions for athletes occasionally mention their trainer, as do documents of the athletic guild.

© KU Leuven, 2012