Personal Coaching and the differences between Observing and Training, explained.

Guidance on personal coaching published by Paul Dickinson. Paul has approximately 40,000 hours of on-road observing, coaching and training experience. He is a qualified advanced motorcycle instructor and examiner as well as being a qualified CBT and Direct Access instructor. He has substantial experience in assessing and developing riders’ skills and is the Chief Motorcycling Examiner for the DIA, the UK’s largest and most respected association for professional instructors.

So, if you want to develop and improve your skills, this is how you do it!

There are similarities between coaching, mentoring, observing and training, but they are definitely not the same! And, they will produce different results!

In the field of motorcycle riding which is used essentially for travel, recreation, sport and leisure, there are genuine and exacting demands required of the rider to ensure that they get the best from themselves and their machine. There is no less a demand that the rider is safe, stays safe and ideally understands what safety is.

There is fun to be had so how do we progress and get the best from our abilities? Personal coaching is the answer.

What are the definitions of the 4 separate categories of Mentoring, Observing, Training and Coaching?

For motorcycling they are best explained as follows:


Mentoring enables an individual to follow the guidelines of a more experienced and wiser colleague who can pass on their knowledge and experience. In motorcycling this is often seen as a parent passing on their experiences to their dependent, a spouse passing on their understanding and concern to their loved one, or an enthusiast passing on their experiences and acquired knowledge to another rider.


Another word for a mentor in the motorcycling world is ‘observer’. It is a non-professional role and as such has limitations. Its ability to identify, analyse, and provide accurate feedback of riding standards for individual riders is variable. Observers  will have taken some training in how to observe and pass on knowledge. It is possible to pass an advanced motorcycle test having been observed so this is a positive outcome but there will always be provisos with this kind of pass.


Training is a more structured activity, often requiring the achievement of particular goals, with the trainee being trained by practice and instruction to specific standards. It is more complex than that, but a thorough examination of the definition is best left for another article.

One way to think about training is that it is essentially teacher based learning. What this means is that the teacher is delivering lessons in a format that does more telling of information, whilst the client learns from listening and implementing that information. It could be described as a passive way of learning. These are quite complex topics so it’s not possible to provide full details on this page, but I hope that it will help the reader gain some reasonable understanding on the different roles of Mentors Observers, Trainers and Coaches.

The trainee may have no prior knowledge of a motorcycle, therefore it becomes important that the instructor / teacher is suitably skilled and qualified to train another. The teacher must know how to train the rider and, must know what the standards are to be achieved. The teacher will also need to be able to properly assess the abilities and potential of a new rider for example, and they will need experience in thoroughly understanding the level of the trainees’ skills at any given stage of the training process.

Personal Coaching – the difference between average and excellent

Coaching is a process via which the client, usually with existing experience and skills, is supported to achieve their specific personal or professional competencies or goals. It is very centred towards the client taking on the responsibility of understanding in greater detail what they are trying to achieve. It can be described as an active way of learning, as opposed to passive for teacher centred learning.

Achievement from coaching can be as much or as little as the client wants to develop within any specific or broad skill set. The professional coach understands what this entails and how to provide it for their clients.

They will apply their expertise with their professional and accurate demonstrations, converse with you in a positive manner and with targeted questions and answers, and encourage you to develop and see things in a different way if necessary to make positive changes and to progress.

They will be able to explain exactly what they are doing and why, and very importantly, they will be able to identify, analyse and provide skilled feedback for you to develop in all the different aspects of your riding.

Your coach will be able to recognise exactly what you are capable of and work with you to reach any goal you wish.

Advanced Motorcycle Training