3 Main Differences Between a Coach and a Teacher

In our sport, we usually refer to the people with whom we take lessons as either “coaches” or “teachers”. Have you ever asked yourself, “Is there any difference between the two?” In this article, I will discuss the differences between a coach and a teacher. 

1. Relationship

Your connections with those who influence your development make the biggest difference. Teaching is more of a one-way relationship. One person with more knowledge teaches another who wishes to acquire it. Coaching, however, is interactive. It is a cycle where the coach regularly checks your progress to give further instruction. 

Although someone might be able to teach a single class of hundreds of students, they wouldn’t be able to coach so many students simultaneously. A teacher can educate you even if they know nothing about you. A coach must personally know everything about you and your partner so they may become efficient in your development. 

We aren’t talking only about deciding training plans or to which competitions you will go. Your coach must know you as a person first. A good coach knows who you are, and that lets them bring the best dancer out of you. A coach understands how you think, how you react to difficulties, and how you compete under pressure. A teacher wouldn’t necessarily pay attention to those characteristics. 

2. Responsibility

There may come a time when you’re not so happy with your performance; it’s a struggle every dancer faces. To whom are you going to run to find out what didn’t work and why? That teacher—maybe even one of the greatest teachers in the world—who taught you one lesson six months ago? Or your everyday coach? 

Your coach is the person who follows your everyday progress; the one who knows every detail of your career—your past and your present, your relationship with your partner, your greatest strengths and your most stubborn weaknesses. 

Furthermore, your coach alone knows the details of your recent dance endeavors. They know what you’ve worked on and improved, and what you haven’t gotten to just yet.  Your coach can advise you on what to fix at your particular level—maybe even between rounds. 

A teacher will not answer your call in the middle of the night because you missed your flight to a competition. A coach will. A teacher will not necessarily be available to listen to you when you need to talk about the obstacles you face with your partner. A coach will. 

At the end of the day, a coach wants to see you succeed as much as you do.   Coaches will be there at your side on your path, and they certainly feel more accountable for your progress than a teacher.

3. Technical Level

As I mentioned earlier, teachers must offer a higher level of knowledge. That’s why it is important that you don’t confuse the two figures—the coach and the teacher—in your career. 

If you begin taking lessons from an unqualified teacher, you will have to choose a better one sooner or later. However, this doesn’t mean that you’d have to choose another coach too. If you manage to strike the balance between their coaching and the information the most qualified teacher gives you, that’s fine, it works.

You might be lucky enough to find a great teacher from the very beginning of your career. In that case, you can be sure that they will offer valuable information for every step of your journey as a dancer.

Finding and keeping a coach is another story. A coach can be of any level. It’s not new in dancesport to see someone who used their skill to develop a couple from zero to the top—even if, as a dancer, he or she didn’t have world-class results. Coaching and teaching require a different skill set and a different approach.  Thus, a coach’s overall technical level is not so significant.

The Beauty Of Coaching In Dancesport

It might be a person’s choice to be either a teacher or a coach, but sometimes it isn’t. There are times in dancesport when a person happens to be “all in one”: a coach, a teacher, a parent, a friend, a partner. 


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Italian, dancing since the age of 5 and currently based in Moscow. With his partner Ekaterina Utkina, he is in the top 50 WDSF Adult Standard World Ranking, representing the Russian Federation.

Tags: coaching dancesport teaching

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