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Have you ever "helped" a stranger correct their form?
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I've come across scenarios multiple times where a swimmer/cyclist has such poor form that it hurts my eyes and I have to exercise extreme self-restraint in order to prevent myself from running over and saying "NO NO NO your're doing it all WRONG!"

There are many examples (see below) but how do you approach these people? Do you scoff at their amateurishness in your own head or do you try and work it into a friendly conversation? Has anyone told you where to stick your "friendly advice" when you tried?

Possible scenarios:
1. the cyclist with the ridiculously low saddle (could even be a guy commuting to work)


2. The cyclist with a helmet so positioned that they'd probably be better without it (I especially like the top-left one image)


3. The swimmer who's trying so hard and going nowhere because of a simple issue like crossing his arms on the pull...


4. I saw another swimmer yesterday who's hand was at 90degrees to her arms (fingers pointing at the pool floor) when it entered the water, creating unnecessary drag.
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Re: Have you ever "helped" a stranger correct their form? [RonanIRL] [ In reply to ]
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Offering unsolicited "advice" to others is a great total d bag move! Never. Unless someone asks for help keep your mouth shut.
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Re: Have you ever "helped" a stranger correct their form? [endosch2] [ In reply to ]
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endosch2 wrote:
Offering unsolicited "advice" to others is a great total d bag move! Never. Unless someone asks for help keep your mouth shut.

Pretty much this.

I once came upon a rider on a tri bike whose seat was so low that they rode totally bowlegged to compensate. Everything about his bike fit and position sucked. A few minutes later I pulled into the park area where my vehicle was parked. So did this guy. I told him his seat was a few inches too low and it was likely costing him a lot of power and efficiency. He told me it was comfortable like that and stared at me like I had three heads and just called his mother a whore.

2018 Races:
Oceanside 70.3, Oceanside, CA, April 7th | Ironman Texas, The Woodlands, TX, April 28th | Finland 70.3, Lahti, Finland, June 30th | Jonkoping 70.3, Jonkoping, Sweden, July 8th | Waco 70.3, Waco, TX, October 28th

Gear: Dimond Bikes | Desoto Sport | Hoka One One
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Re: Have you ever "helped" a stranger correct their form? [The GMAN] [ In reply to ]
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endosch2 wrote:
Offering unsolicited "advice" to others is a great total d bag move! Never. Unless someone asks for help keep your mouth shut.


I get your point, personally my self-restraint has always prevailed but surely there is a point at which you have to do something! In the below example I'd bet money this rider went home and raised his saddle per GMAN's advice, reducing the chance of likely future back pain etc..

The GMAN wrote:
Pretty much this.

I once came upon a rider on a tri bike whose seat was so low that they rode totally bowlegged to compensate. Everything about his bike fit and position sucked. A few minutes later I pulled into the park area where my vehicle was parked. So did this guy. I told him his seat was a few inches too low and it was likely costing him a lot of power and efficiency. He told me it was comfortable like that and stared at me like I had three heads and just called his mother a whore.

LOL
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Re: Have you ever "helped" a stranger correct their form? [RonanIRL] [ In reply to ]
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A buddy of mine was an American national olympic weightlifting champ and an olympiad - he once mistakenly approached someone at the gym to correct a lifting technique and was excoriated - that tells me, keep your mouth shut unless someone asks you for advice - the road to hell is paved with unsolicited advice and good intentions.
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Re: Have you ever "helped" a stranger correct their form? [RonanIRL] [ In reply to ]
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Nope. I help if asked.

I don't know them, I don't know what they are trying to acheive, I don't know their history. So unless I'm willing to get a total stranger to talk to me for 15-30 minutes, and they are willing to tell a total stranger all that stuff, then no.

Every so often, I will strike up a conversation (or the other way) with a stranger, and if it comes up, I'll volunteer my tips, and maybe they'll volunteer some of their own. But really, I wouldn't just walk up to someone and tell them that their seat is too high.

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Re: Have you ever "helped" a stranger correct their form? [RonanIRL] [ In reply to ]
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RonanIRL wrote:
endosch2 wrote:
Offering unsolicited "advice" to others is a great total d bag move! Never. Unless someone asks for help keep your mouth shut.


In anything in life whether it is tri or work, if you want to be effective leading and influencing others keep in mind that "the teacher will appear when the student is ready".

If you want to have influence on others you typically have to wait until they experience failure or pain until they are truly ready to listen to others.

The world is filled with a-holes telling others what to do and if you are one of them chances are you don't get listened to very often.

I swim in a pool full of people every morning who all need my great advice but I exercise restraint, always.


I get your point, personally my self-restraint has always prevailed but surely there is a point at which you have to do something! In the below example I'd bet money this rider went home and raised his saddle per GMAN's advice, reducing the chance of likely future back pain etc..

The GMAN wrote:
Last edited by: endosch2: Jan 12, 18 5:29
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Re: Have you ever "helped" a stranger correct their form? [The GMAN] [ In reply to ]
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But I do tell people that their helmets are on backwards. That's a piece of unsolicited advice that always goes over well. Bonus points when it's an aero helmet.

2018 Races:
Oceanside 70.3, Oceanside, CA, April 7th | Ironman Texas, The Woodlands, TX, April 28th | Finland 70.3, Lahti, Finland, June 30th | Jonkoping 70.3, Jonkoping, Sweden, July 8th | Waco 70.3, Waco, TX, October 28th

Gear: Dimond Bikes | Desoto Sport | Hoka One One
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Re: Have you ever "helped" a stranger correct their form? [RonanIRL] [ In reply to ]
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Crit/Road Racing is the one place where I will hand out a little friendly advice without being asked. Even then only if they are a danger and I can add something specific and constructive. I try not to be the, "Hold your line!" guy.
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Re: Have you ever "helped" a stranger correct their form? [ In reply to ]
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Reminds me of couple years ago we (small group) came up on a solo triathlete on a back country road. One of my friend's noticed the guy's rear skewer was all the way open and told him. The guy responded sharply in a snarky tone, "It's supposed to be like that!"

You get to a point where it just doesn't pay to say anything even if it could save a person from significant injury. I would be happy if someone were to warn me, but having someone snap at you once or twice and it makes you want to just stay quiet.
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Re: Have you ever "helped" a stranger correct their form? [RonanIRL] [ In reply to ]
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I've replied the same thing to several of threads when this questions comes up

"free advice is often overpriced"
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Re: Have you ever "helped" a stranger correct their form? [RonanIRL] [ In reply to ]
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I do help. But you have to be diplomatic.
It’s usually in the pool where people need most help.
The trick is not to just blurt our advice. You make a couple small talk lines and then ask them if they want advice.

“Hey, I am Alen.” Shake hands.
“Are u swimming for fitness or competing?... awesome! While I was swimming, I noticed a couple things. Do you want any advice?”

With this approach I have yet to have someone say no, especially when they know you are way faster. Most people do want the help.

I, myself, would LOVE badass swimmers to help me. Once a retired HS swim coach was coaching his daughters who were really good. After several days when we swam next lane to each other, I told him that I will buy him coffee if he gave me advice. He said he doesn’t drink coffee but gave me 3 things he had noticed. It was awesome!
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Re: Have you ever "helped" a stranger correct their form? [endosch2] [ In reply to ]
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endosch2 wrote:
Offering unsolicited "advice" to others is a great total d bag move! Never. Unless someone asks for help keep your mouth shut.
When I was new to swimming I was at the pool one day and upon finishing a lap some old guy sitting on a bench says to me "you're doing it all wrong". Then he proceeds to totally trash everything about my form, tells me how I should be doing it and "now do a lap". Turns out he's a retired instructor and fixture at the pool. He basically gave me free lessons that day and offered tips in later weeks. Nice guy.

Another time in the gym a teenager told me I'm lifting wrong, what I should be doing, how he works out and I should be doing everything his way cuz he knows the best way to work out and--oh yeah--he's a personal trainer and he's taking on new clients...

Were their opening comments in the d-bag category? Yeah, maybe not the best opening lines. The follow-up makes the difference. One was a nice guy who I didn't perceive as anything other than trying to be helpful. The other was an arrogant know-it-all.

You can never tell how the person on the receiving end will react to perceived criticism from a total stranger. I personally keep my mouth shut unless something else provides an icebreaker to start a conversation; then I'll ask if they want a bit of advice.
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Re: Have you ever "helped" a stranger correct their form? [RonanIRL] [ In reply to ]
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I swim in a YMCA where literally everyone in the pool (and its crowded at lunch!) is a terrible swimmer - I'm not good and I look like swim stud compared to their 2:00+ average pace with all sorts of horrendous in their form.

Still, I refrain from giving out (much needed) advice unless asked (which I never am.) The few times I've seen someone give advice freely in that pool without someone asking, they got berated for it - I think it comes across almost like bullying, like "I'm clearly SO much better than you, so...." And that person offering the advice was very nice about giving it, so it wasn't the delivery that was the problem.

Of course, in a different environment, like a triathlon club where everyone actively wants to improve, unsolicited advice is likely WELCOME! But in a pool environment, some (a vast majority, in fact) of ugly form swimmers just want to get their 'workout', form be danged.

At one of the non-YMCA pools I swam in, there's a lady who does a quasi freestyle, with long fins, thrashing to no end, with head popping out completely out of the water and rolling all over the place on every breath. It's literally the ugliest thing you've ever seen, it's so bad (hence the fins to keep her moving). Still, she's there EVERY day, and actually looks like she's' working very hard in the water, so I strongly suspect she has no interest in learning to swim 'for real', and is perfectly happy burning calories with her thrasher workout. I'm not gonna mess with that!

There's also an indian dude my age who uses a snorkel who swims every day at lunch - when we split a lane, I was going to offer him a tidbit of advice in that he didn't have to crossover so far that his right arm literally passes his left shoulder underwater on the pull (!!!) but he clearly wasn't interested, and took off on his ugly set the moment I was going to suggest.
Last edited by: lightheir: Jan 12, 18 6:43
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Re: Have you ever "helped" a stranger correct their form? [Ijustrun] [ In reply to ]
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Ijustrun wrote:
endosch2 wrote:
Offering unsolicited "advice" to others is a great total d bag move! Never. Unless someone asks for help keep your mouth shut.

Were their opening comments in the d-bag category? Yeah, maybe not the best opening lines. The follow-up makes the difference. One was a nice guy who I didn't perceive as anything other than trying to be helpful. The other was an arrogant know-it-all.

You can never tell how the person on the receiving end will react to perceived criticism from a total stranger. I personally keep my mouth shut unless something else provides an icebreaker to start a conversation; then I'll ask if they want a bit of advice.

I agree with this, if it can be done in an non-patronizing and non-condescending manner then why not?

lighttheir wrote:
I swim in a YMCA where literally everyone in the pool (and its crowded at lunch!) is a terrible swimmer - I'm not good and I look like swim stud compared to their 2:00+ average pace with all sorts of horrendous in their form.
Still, I refrain from giving out (much needed) advice unless asked (which I never am.) The few times I've seen someone give advice freely in that pool without someone asking, they got berated for it - I think it comes across almost like bullying, like "I'm clearly SO much better than you, so...." And that person offering the advice was very nice about giving it, so it wasn't the delivery that was the problem.

Of course, in a different environment, like a triathlon club where everyone actively wants to improve, unsolicited advice is likely WELCOME! But in a pool environment, some (a vast majority, in fact) of ugly form swimmers just want to get their 'workout', form be danged.

At one of the non-YMCA pools I swam in, there's a lady who does a quasi freestyle, with long fins, thrashing to no end, with head popping out completely out of the water and rolling all over the place on every breath. It's literally the ugliest thing you've ever seen, it's so bad (hence the fins to keep her moving). Still, she's there EVERY day, and actually looks like she's' working very hard in the water, so I strongly suspect she has no interest in learning to swim 'for real', and is perfectly happy burning calories with her thrasher workout. I'm not gonna mess with that!

There's also an indian dude my age who uses a snorkel who swims every day at lunch - when we split a lane, I was going to offer him a tidbit of advice in that he didn't have to crossover so far that his right arm literally passes his left shoulder underwater on the pull (!!!) but he clearly wasn't interested, and took off on his ugly set the moment I was going to suggest.

Ok, looks like the majority of folks in this thread are on your side of the fence. See above however, I still feel like a reasonable delivery precludes you from receiving the "D-Bag" label and if they don't want to hear it, fine, move on.
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Re: Have you ever "helped" a stranger correct their form? [RonanIRL] [ In reply to ]
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Actually upon reflection I offer unsolicited lessons to women only. Does that strike anyone as Man-Splaining?


Does that make me a D Bag? I have always thought that chicks dig it....
Last edited by: endosch2: Jan 12, 18 7:30
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Re: Have you ever "helped" a stranger correct their form? [RonanIRL] [ In reply to ]
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Once, lady was leaving T2 with her helmet still on.
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Re: Have you ever "helped" a stranger correct their form? [endosch2] [ In reply to ]
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endosch2 wrote:
Offering unsolicited "advice" to others is a great total d bag move! Never. Unless someone asks for help keep your mouth shut.

Yep. Occasionally I will encounter someone who is so bad that just a few minor corrections would make a huge difference in their stroke and speed but I have always bit my lip. These folks have seen me do lap after lap right next to them while they struggle just to get to the other side. If they asked for advice I would happily give it, but the fact remains they did not so let it go even though I felt badly for them.
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Re: Have you ever "helped" a stranger correct their form? [RonanIRL] [ In reply to ]
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I still feel like a reasonable delivery precludes you from receiving the "D-Bag" label and if they don't want to hear it, fine, move on.

I don't think it's possible to offer unsolicited advice to a stranger. No matter how you preface and how nice you are it still just doesn't come off right. I'd be happy to be proved wrong. Just don't think it's possible.
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Re: Have you ever "helped" a stranger correct their form? [RonanIRL] [ In reply to ]
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I strive to keep my mouth shut but sometimes i can't help myself
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Re: Have you ever "helped" a stranger correct their form? [jaretj] [ In reply to ]
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This past June I was with my 15 year old daughter at the start of a road TT. It was mid-summer and she had already raced about 10 times earlier in the season.

A guy who I know looked at her and just started telling her stuff like "make sure you get your foot clipped in" and "dont go out too hard" - totally unsolicited. She was glancing at me with this angry look on her face like "can I tell this guy how I feel??" I would have told her yes.
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Re: Have you ever "helped" a stranger correct their form? [hen263] [ In reply to ]
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ooooo, lifting. Do they even have concensus on what correct lifting technique is? Especially when it comes to squats and dead lifts.


hen263 wrote:
A buddy of mine was an American national olympic weightlifting champ and an olympiad - he once mistakenly approached someone at the gym to correct a lifting technique and was excoriated - that tells me, keep your mouth shut unless someone asks you for advice - the road to hell is paved with unsolicited advice and good intentions.
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Re: Have you ever "helped" a stranger correct their form? [RonanIRL] [ In reply to ]
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I draw the line at immediate equipment failure. I have pointed it out when a rider's handlebar has one end broken at the drops, but he didn't notice it because he was riding in the hood. But that's about it...



RonanIRL wrote:
I get your point, personally my self-restraint has always prevailed but surely there is a point at which you have to do something! In the below example I'd bet money this rider went home and raised his saddle per GMAN's advice, reducing the chance of likely future back pain etc..
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Re: Have you ever "helped" a stranger correct their form? [Ijustrun] [ In reply to ]
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Unsolicited advice is a minefield. Sometimes I help but mostly not.
My icebreaker is noticing the triathlon swim hat. If they are working on drills I might offer a pointer or two. It helps being a competent swimmer and working as a coach.
These days I ask if it's OK to explain in Finnish so I can practice. I've often spent 30+ minutes getting basics right. I love it when it works.
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Re: Have you ever "helped" a stranger correct their form? [endosch2] [ In reply to ]
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This guy obviously gets the D-bag badge. Your daughter knew what she was doing, I would have paid money to see her give him a piece of her mind.

I would also agree with the equipment failure line. That guy with the open skewer... if his wheel fell off I’d class that as Darwinism
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