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Tips to be a Better Spotter for Bouldering

A good spot can make the difference between a happy climber and an injured one

Spotting is one of the most necessary Skills in outdoor bouldering. If you have spent a lot of time climbing inside, you have probably received some instruction already. Both in the gym and outside, it is important to cup your hands slightly. This may have been expressed to you as “spoons not forks.” This is as much for the climber’s benefit as it is the spotter’s. By cupping your hands, you reduce the risk of jamming your fingers. It is important to keep your arms slightly bent to protect your elbows. The most important rule is to ensure that the climber’s head hits the ground last if it has to hit the ground at all. Though these skills are necessary for indoor bouldering, you may notice how infrequently people spot inside.

This is because climbers feel secure in a facility with flat, regular mats that extend beyond the limits of where they might fall. The setters create problems with safety in mind and strive to produce an accessible environment. Outdoor bouldering is not like this. The environment is irregular, the pads are thinner, and the boulder problems are not intelligently designed for safety. As such, it is important that you spot your climber on every burn. If someone is flying off a boulder, you will have to do more than protect their head. In fact, you may have to throw them into the pads a bit. Recognize the obstacle of the area and keep your ground clear. It is difficult to spot if you are having to stare at the ground to find your footing while the climber is on the wall. It is important to watch the way more experienced climbers spot outside.