Posted on May. 24, 2022 by Lon Bartel

Instructor or coach, which mindset are you? I will give you a moment to think about it…There is a difference. The Cambridge definitions of these terms are as follows:


Instructor – A person whose job is to teach people a practical skill

Coach – Someone whose job is to teach people to improve at a sportskill, or school subject


With a critical eye, one should see that an instructor teaches a skill and a coach teaches folks to improve at a skill. Meaning that the instructor will give you the basics so you can put the skill together in a cohesive way. Instruction is the starting point. It is usually measured by a performance objective, a standard. Once a standard is hit the instructor has met a moral obligation.

Contrast that with the definition of a coach. “Teach people to improve” is about growth. A coaching mindset is about constant improvement. Moving forward on the development of the skill.

An instructor has a responsibility that hits a cap (the performance objective), and with a coach, the sky is the limit. A coach is still an instructor, but instructors are not always coaches. An instructor may get you to a point, but a coach is going to make you better and take you further.

The only absolute about human performance is that it will vary. We have days of excellence and days of underperformance. Coaches get you over the humps.

Be a coach!


This article was written by Lon Bartel, VirTra’s Director of Training & Curriculum.

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