It's a balmy Sunday afternoon in Bentonville, Arkansas and the Pickleball courts are popping. My wife and I take our newly purchased paddles and begin with a dinking drill to warm up before playing our first ever game of America's fastest growing sport. As you can tell by the name of the sport and its warm up drills, Pickleball is a sport that requires athleticism, but was created by and for the non-athletic.
Before long the game was on. The serves are hot, the drinks are cold, and the movement is minimal (the court is only 20 feet wide). I lose the first game and as I'm about to sit down to watch my friends play the next match, I hear, "Hey! We're short one, want to play?"
I look across to see three dudes that look like an Instagram Ad targeting thirty year old, white, males who need something to do on Sunday. I introduce myself and our opponents serve. My teammate immediately stops the game and tells me I'm not standing in the correct place. I move. We play two more serves and he stops us again, this time to coach me on how to move closer to the Kitchen (the part of the court closest to the net) during play.
It continues like this for almost two full games. At one point, he stops me from serving to say, "Not that I care, but when you drop serve, you're not allowed to put any force on it. Gravity is the only force that can act on the ball." I thought about replying, "Well I'm glad that you don't care, because I don't either."
I found that as the games went on, the more he coached me, the worse I played. I would get annoyed he was coaching me during a pickup game of Pickleball, especially while I was volunteering time away from my friends.
I finally make it back to my wife and friends and explain to them how I'd been coached up for the last two hours. We play a few more games and I start to play really well. I realize I am subconsciously implementing a lot of the coaching the PickleBro had been giving me.
My poor performance in the previous game had a lot more to do with my decision to not receive his coaching than it did the coaching itself.
There will be plenty of times in life where people want to give us advice. Solicited or not, we may find value in it if we choose to be coachable.
Seek out feedback this week from someone you normally wouldn't.
What is your physical posture like when someone is coaching you? How can you improve it be more coachable?
“My best skill was that I was coachable. I was a sponge and aggressive to learn.” - Michael Jordan