“Try bending your knees more!”
“You need to flick your foot harder”
We’ve all been on the receiving end of unsolicited skateboard advice, right? Sometimes it can be helpful, but more often than not it’s… well, not.
WHAT IS UNSOLICITED ADVICE?
Unsolicited advice just means any advice or comment that you didn’t ask for, this usually comes from someone who is observing a situation you are in that they are not. Maybe they have experienced a similar scenario before, or perhaps they have never encountered the situation but feel like they could dish out some pearls of wisdom.
I can just be warming up with a few kickflips or frontside feebles – tricks I’ve been able to do for over a decade – but, as with most people and most tricks, they are not things that I’ve got first try every try (sometimes it can take 20 minutes or more for my muscle memory to join the session!) and often, I will get advice from other skaters, kids, or even their parents(!) on how I should balance my weight, or where my feet might be better placed.
Whilst these comments almost always come from a good place, they can become pretty frustrating. My body type tends to be somewhat different from that of your average scooter kid or rad dad at the skatepark, so where I keep my weight for certain tricks or how I position myself for a fall, can often be quite different, simply because my weight and pockets of cushioning sit differently on my body to theirs.
Physicalities asides, hormones and social conditioning also play a part in my way of thinking, as well as my approach to learning, and both can be vastly different from many of the good willers who may be seeking to offer me advice.
WAYS YOU CAN RESPOND
Responding to unsolicited advice requires somewhat of a knack – too polite and you risk sounding interested, which may leave you open to more unwanted advice. On the other hand, being too blunt could cause the other person to become offended and perhaps bring negativity to an otherwise pleasant session.
Sometimes it’s easier just to thank them for the advice, and then do what you want anyway!
Some polite ways to decline could include;
“Thanks for sharing that, I’ll consider if it works for me”
This makes it clear that just because the other person prefers to do something one way, that doesn’t mean it’s right for you. However, this response does risk the person checking back in with you to see how well their advice worked!
“That’s an interesting take on it, but I’m going to approach it this way first and see how it goes”
This response works well when someone is skating with you at the park or spot and are waiting for you to try it their way. However, if you really don’t want to take their advice, it can sometimes be better to just say so at the earliest opportunity…
“I appreciate your help and experience, but this method works for me”
Whether your skate buddy is checking in on your latest trick progress or a random skater at the park is giving you his ‘tried and tested’ Ollie advice, make it super clear that you NOT interested.
Being firm and assertive will help the other person know that you really have no desire to hear their advice and will stop any awkward further encounters.
Don’t feel as though you have to be polite
Sometimes it’s those who know the least about your situation who insist on offering the most guidance (hello scooter kids) So, when you really do hear bad advice, don’t be afraid to just come out and say that you’re not interested.
“I’m not looking for any advice right now“
“I won’t be doing that”
It can feel as though we are not being heard when you keep being offered unsolicited advice after a clear decline, but more than anything it’s just straight up annoying. Its OK to set boundaries and it’s OK to walk (or skate!) away from conversations if you are frustrated by the interaction. Your personal space is more important.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
Before you decide how to respond to unwanted advice, consider where it’s coming from and your relationship with that person. A complete stranger you’ll probably never see again? Maybe just offer a polite response and try to get on with your session. Perhaps it’s a friend or regular at the skatepark? In these cases it could be a good idea to set some boundaries.
Try asking yourself, ‘Is this person in between me and what I’m trying to do?’ If the answer is no, try to ignore it and skate on by!
GOT SOME ADVICE TO SHARE?
See someone struggling with a trick and think you could help?
If you’re the type of person eager to offer tips or advice at the park, just remember that being aware that you are better than someone at something is not an invitation for you to advise them on how to do it. Not everyone is looking for corrections or suggestions, they could just be trying to do their own thing – so do always ask before sharing your knowledge.
HOW TO OFFER HELP POLITELY
You could try;
“Looking great! Are you interested in any suggestions?”
“I have some tips that could maybe help with what you’re trying, would you like to hear them?”
“I’ve noticed you’re trying XYZ trick, I’m happy to share some tips if you think it might help?”
It’s important to remember that feedback can be a gift when given in the right context (and if it is wanted!) but there are some times when you just need to figure things out for yourself.
Our best tip?
Never give tips unless you are asked to give a tip!