Motorcycle Tips & Techniques

Motorcycle Safety/Dynamics

Skip Repetitive Navigational Links
Safety TipsPractice and Education   Tip133   Print article Print

Becoming An MSF Instructor/Rider Coach
Is NOT A Status Thing

By: James R. Davis

I took the first step towards becoming an MSF instructor in early September, 1996. The process of applying for and preparing to become a certified MSF instructor is described below for those of you that are curious or seriously considering doing the same.

Let me go back in time a bit so that you get a better feeling for all that is involved.

I had taken the MSF Street Rider Course about five years before deciding to become an instructor. This, after over 30 years of riding on two wheels. I learned many things during that beginners class, most notably that I had been doing a few things wrong for years. I had, frankly, expected to be bored out of my skull. I had expected to be talked down to. I had expected trivialities.

Instead, I was provided with a massive quantity of well considered and absolutely gospel information that I could not fault in any way. People entering this class without any prior motorcycle experience whatever were able to confidently and competently ride a motorcycle when they left the class. In short, I was impressed.

Before becoming an instructor I had attended four Experienced Rider Courses hosted by the MSF. Again, I was impressed as a result.

During several of those ERC classes I was told by MSF instructors that I should consider becoming an MSF instructor myself. After five years of that kind of feedback, and because I have invested such a large amount of time already in the preparation of these 'Motorcycle Tips & Techniques' articles, I decided to look into the matter. The message here is that the odds are good that if you are interested in becoming an instructor it is because an instructor told you that you were good enough to do it.

The process starts with a phone call to the State DPS facility responsible for staffing MSF.

That phone call was made and during it I was 'interviewed.' It was clear to me that there was an attempt to discourage 'casual' interest. For example, it was made clear that I had to have completed the basic (Street Rider Class) within 12 months of entering the instructor training curriculum, regardless of any ERC training that I might already have.

They told me that I would have to volunteer at least four weekends as a 'range aide' - unable to teach any part of the class or to perform any demonstrations to the class.

Additionally, that there would be pre-instructor-training homework that could take as long as 30 days to complete.

The next class would not be held until the following spring and that it would be held over two weekends, not consecutive ones at that. (Occasionally they will teach an Instructor Prep class over a consecutive eight days.)

Finally, I was told that before I would be invited as an instructor candidate the DPS would research my prior driving record looking for accidents and any evidence whatever of infractions involving alcohol or drugs.

It is no mystery that the reason for all of these requirements is two-fold: to discourage the casually interested and to increase the odds that when a student completes the instructor prep class he/she is highly likely to actually then teach classes. It is amazing how many wish to gain certification for 'status' reasons.

If you've read this far you may well wish to become an instructor. Rather than tell you all about the endless hours of classroom and range exercise we had to deal with, let me just assure you that it was professional, detailed, complete, and EXHAUSTING. Some class days were over 14 hours in length. All students had to perform the demos PERFECTLY. And every day that I was on the range doing exercises (playing student) or teaching them, it was HOT!!!!

And, no matter how skilled a candidate was before entering the class, each of us felt that we might not be good enough to graduate. By comparing ourselves to the other candidates it was clear that at least one of them was better at some aspect of motorcycle riding (or teaching methods) than we were. Humbling, to say the least.

Copyright © 1992 - 2023 by The Master Strategy Group, all rights reserved.

(James R. Davis is a recognized expert witness in the fields of Motorcycle Safety/Dynamics.)

A plea for your help