You are at an event or on the dropzone, and another jumper starts giving you tips and does not stop dispensing with the free advice – whether you want it or not.
This unwanted “side-coaching” is not a single hint. It is not a valued mentor who you like. It goes beyond piece partner communication. You might even be paying for a professional coach – and then get this extra “bonus” coach on the side. Often this person is not a more experienced skydiver.
When it happens repeatedly, it can be enraging. It is hard to know how to make it stop. You might even feel irrational for saying “please stop helping me.”
But your feelings are real, and you can nip it in the bud.
Not all advice is for you
Almost everyone has experienced unwanted advice, either inside or outside of skydiving. Not everyone has your best interest in mind, nor does everyone give good guidance. While you should be open-minded and non-defensive, you must consider the source and motivations. Dispensing advice can be a way to boost the other person’s status or ego. It might not be to help you.
Tell them to stop flat out
You can tell them you would prefer not to be coached by them. This is ok. You do not need permission to have that conversation. You have a right to shut off the spigot of undesired assistance.
BUT I know that can be hard in real life. So read on if you need some guidance.
Realize it comes from a place of love and helpfulness
First, before you punch anyone, realize it may be coming from authentic helpfulness. Misguided as the results are, the person might think they are doing a good thing and contributing to the well-being of the skydiving community. Seeing that perspective may ease the raw emotions when it happens.
Take it with a grain of salt
One strategy is to brush it off. If the advice is not helpful anyway, focus on what your actual coaches are saying or your own goals. If you do not respond much, it will probably dampen out.
Not wrong, just not the right time
What if the advice is correct? But it still bothers you? Does that make you wrong? Not at all. The most significant difference between amateurs helping and experienced coaching is that professionals prune what they say. Frankly, people often give great advice at the wrong time.
For example, if I were to dump every piece of knowledge and tip about 4-way block seven into your head, it would take several hours. You would not have any actionable advice, and you would be overwhelmed. But, if I gave you a couple of focal points – you could improve that one thing! You would be better.
You can respond by telling them you have enough to work on now and you have enough to work on this jump.
Need some phrases to help communicate your preference? Again, you can simply say it. But if you need some useful phrasing, try:
“Perhaps I’ll ask you for your help later.”
“I’m good for now, thanks.”
“I am focusing on what the coach told me for this jump.”
“I have enough information to work on this jump.”
“I am going to focus on the coach’s points.”
“I don’t need your help right now.”
If it is a long-term situation, like a team, being straightforward might be required. Remember all your people skills to help them hear you and reduce defensiveness.
Ask the primary coach for help
Finally, if it is persistent and you have tried everything, you can ask an actual coach to help. They might be able to break through and shut down the behavior.
Getting unwanted skydiving advice is annoying, frustrating, and possibly demeaning. Consider the source. You can ask them to stop directly or indirectly. Ignoring them is an option. Failing those strategies, you can have a deep conversation about it or enlist your coach. In any case, you are not crazy for telling them to stop!
PS – If you want to make sure you are giving the best advice and support, check out How Experienced Skydivers Can Help.