I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Advice

QandA logoThis is a question from a frustrated coach on a topic you may have some experience with.

Dear Coach Ruis,
In the past, I’ve dealt with students who wouldn’t follow all of my advice. But now, I have a student who not only doesn’t follow even half of my advice, but also argues with me constantly. She always finds an excuse to not do what I want her to do, even if I am able to prove her ideas wrong. How do I deal with students like her?

* * *

It is the teacher’s role to teach … and the student’s role to learn.

And, since this is a voluntary arrangement, I would simply not spend any more time with her. You are providing a service, if someone doesn’t want what you are providing, you don’t help by irritating them by insisting upon it.

At a deeper level, my coaching philosophy involves helping all archers to become independent, to be able to take or leave coaching as they see fit. I can’t do that by taking away their autonomy, by telling them they must do as I say or I will take my marbles and go home.

I suggest you respect your student’s right to ignore you. The flip side is I certainly do not want to spend time with people who ignore my advice and/or cherry pick my advice, distorting it into something it is not. If I must continue to work with such people, I tend to get more formal and less casual and instead of making statements, I ask questions. If they are insisting on doing everything their way, I honor that by making them do it. I can help by asking questions that lead them to think, but I cannot do their thinking for them.


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2 responses to “I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Advice

  1. Hey Steve and Unknown Archery Coach!

    I encountered a similar student last year who was chronically shy and refused to listen to everything I was “trying” to teach them. I say “trying” because I definitely failed at the task. To this day I am unsure if the student was either a really stubborn teenager and refused to listen, or if they had a learning disability – or both.

    I determined during that lesson that they didn’t really want an instructor, they just wanted to shoot and having someone trying to correct their form and aim was counter to what they wanted to be doing – which was apparently aiming straight at the target, using terrible form, and then watching the arrows fly right over the target butt, nowhere near the target at all.

    It was the most frustrating teaching experience I have ever had (more so than that time I tried to teach a computer illiterate person how to use Facebook). Afterwards the parent of the stubborn teenager asked if I was available to teach more lessons and I was very fortunately fully booked and unavailable. I don’t think I would have taught their teenager again anyway, even if I did have time in my schedule because you cannot teach someone who refuses to even listen.

    I once taught a Francophone kid who was younger how to shoot and they were a much better listener – and although my French is poor, I got him shooting bullseyes at 20 yards by the end of his first lesson. So even though my communication skills in French were hampered, his listening skills and attention to detail made up the difference.


    • A rule I learned as a teacher (actually I invented it) was to ask myself, if I were teaching a friend, would I act that way? Your student may not be a friend, but they might become one, so why would you treat them differently?

      Not particularly profound, but asking that question served to ground me in reality a lot better than what I had been doing.

      Good to hear from you!

      On Mon, Mar 9, 2015 at 6:23 PM, A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:



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