Articles about experiential learning & group facilitation skills, by playmeo

Teaching Effective Spotting Skills

In many activities throughout playmeo’s activity database, I introduce a term referred to as spotting or spotting skills.

Spotting is the activity of securing and protecting the physical well-being of a person engaged in an activity. In practice, it may look like breaking or catching a person’s fall, but it may also be as simple as being alert for potentially harmful events or things.

As a program develops, the momentum to assume bigger challenges – that is, greater perceived and actual risks – often increases. This may attract an individual or group to assume some more physically demanding and harmful activities.

Naturally, as experiential educators were are called to facilitate a safe outcome on these occasions, but there is enormous value in empowering our groups to partner this responsibility. And this is where spotting skills come in.


Essential Spotting Skills Tips

Spotting is perhaps one of the most difficult tasks to teach because, in most cases, people do not recognise the importance of being a spotter until it’s too late, ie someone falls or is hurt. It’s a bit like shutting the gate after the horse has bolted.

Here are some key aspects to remember when teaching effective spotting skills:

  • A safe spotting stance will require the spotter to be balanced with one foot in front of the other, knees flexed to absorb impact, eyes forward and their hands up in a ready position.
  • A series of “Are you ready?” common calls or commands are recommended to prepare everybody before action, such as:


  • Spotters will follow and mimic the movements of the participant and remain with them until the activity concludes.
  • Spotting should focus on ‘breaking’ or supporting a fall, not catching a person.
  • The head, neck and upper torso are the highest priority for a spotter.
  • Spotting is not helping or assisting the participant complete their task.


Useful Spotting Skills Sequence

The following activities will introduce a bunch of fun and fully functional activities to help you teach safe and effective spotting skills.


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