WCC Competition-Specific Spotting Policy



Western Cape Climbing Advice for Spotting at Climbing Competitions



In the case of any climbing competition endorsed by Western Cape Climbing (WCC), the WCC assumes an element of responsibility for the conduct of the event. The WCC therefore has an obligation to at least issue guidance on event organisation and good practice. The notes that follow are addressing the issue of selection and deployment of spotters at climbing competitions.



1. Assumptions


·       At a WCC endorsed event (such as a WCC local or provincial event or an SANCF National Event) the host organisation takes on the major responsibility for the effective and safe running of the event.


·       Host responsibilities include standard health and safety issues, buildings, fire exits, accident reporting, near misses, etcetera. These WCC guidance notes deal with the identification, selection and deployment of appropriate spotters for competition spotting.  These notes must be adopted by the host organisation at WCC endorsed events.



2. Staffing Structure


·       Each host organisation must nominate a Spotter Co-ordinator who has overall responsibility for the spotting during the event. In the case of any WCC-hosted National Bouldering Competition the Jury President has the right to remove any spotter at any time.


·       The Spotting Co-ordinator has responsibility for:


1.     selecting suitable spotters in advance in accordance with the attached guidance (see “Selection of Suitable Spotters” in section 3 below);


2.     ensuring that the spotters are familiar with the attached spotters guidance (see section 4 below “Spotters Guidance”) as well as the Spotting Rules of the Competition;


3.     ensuring that the spotters are made fully aware of route-specific issues during the event;


4.     ensuring that the spotters are monitored during the event itself.


  • Also the spotter must be equipped with CE approved climbing equipment, as needed.



3. Selection of Suitable Spotters


Spotters at competitions must have appropriate spotting experience. The Spotter Co-ordinator must be satisfied that they have this experience and be satisfied that they can spot competently in a competition context. The co-ordinator must have personally seen them spot in this context.


Issues for the spotter co-ordinator to consider include; the spotter’s familiarity with the Spotting Guidance in section 4 below, the spotter’s competence to complete these responsibilities, competence of slowing a fall, experience of catching unexpected falls; and a good knowledge of falling from boulders and the angles at which one can fall.



4. Spotting Guidance


At the start of each attempt on a competition route:


·       Each competitor shall be equipped in accordance with the IFSC regulations governing equipment.


·       Before the competitor begins their attempt on a route the spotter shall check:


1.     The competitor’s shoes are fastened securely;


2.     The competitor has suitable chalk on their hands.


·       The Spotter Co-ordinator is responsible for deciding whether a spotter should have an assistant at the beginning of the route to provide additional security for a competitor during the lower part of their attempt on a route.



During an attempt by a competitor the spotter must at all times pay careful attention to the progress of the competitor to ensure:


·       That the competitors movements are do not put them in a position that allows for difficult and ineffective spotting;


·       That all falls are stopped in a safe and manner;


·       That no excessive falls shall be experienced by the competitor;


·       That route-specific hazards such as overlaps or arêtes that a competitor might swing into, or particularly difficult moves at the start, are noted and precautions taken to minimise the risks to the competitor.



After the competitor has topped the problem, the competitor shall be spotted in case their landing is off balance. Care must be taken to ensure the competitor does not come into contact with any ground-based equipment.


·       It is the responsibility of the Spotter Co-ordinator (in consultation with the Jury President) to ensure that competition spotters are adhering to good spotting practice as outlined in these guidance notes. The Jury President and the Spotter Co-ordinator retain the right and responsibility to intervene and replace a spotter at any time during a competition.


·       A spotter’s assistant for bouldering may now be recommended at National Lead Competitions. Their role includes additional spotting competitors, cleaning holds and adding chalk at times, if appropriate acting as a back up or relief person at suitable intervals.



5. Rules Relating to Spotting




Safety Checks

Prior to any attempt on a route, the spotter shall check that:

a) The competitor’s shoes are properly fastened;

b) The competitor’s hands are suitably chalked.





·       Never agree to spot someone if you are not completely comfortable. If there is a major discrepancy in weight, find someone more suited to the task.


·       Communicate carefully with the climber to determine if a spot is desired and, if so, who is actually responsible for that spot.


·       At best, always place the pads over the anticipated landing zone. Try to create a flat surface with no hollow spots or edges that can twist ankles. Try to guide the falling climber onto the pads. If pads need to be moved during the ascent, assign this task to another person. This is not the job of a good spotter.


·       Stand in a stable position, usually with one foot slightly back, and remove any objects you could trip over.


·       Watch the thumbs. Letting them stick out can help improve your grip on the climber but can easily result in a sprain. Your choice.


·       When the climber starts moving, keep your hands as close as possible to minimize acceleration in the case of a fall.


·       Never take your eyes off the climber you are spotting. If you agree to spot then that boulderer should have your undivided attention. The spotter will not be able to get any beta or information about the moves as all attention should be focused very carefully on the position of the climber's back.


·       Generally, the most effective place to grasp a falling climber is just above the waist near their centre of gravity. Letting your hands slide up into the armpits can also help maintain your grip and guide the climber. Grabbing a climber too low can actually cause a dangerous backwards rotation.


·       Never try to catch and hold a falling climber. Simply try to slow down and direct the fall, thereby lengthening the process of landing which will reduce force. Make protecting the head, neck and spine your prime directive.


·       When possible, help the climber land on their feet, the most effective position for dissipating force.


·       Allow the climber to naturally compress and roll (if necessary) as this also permits proper dissipation of force.


·       In the event that a climber falls with some rotation, watch out for spinning arms. This is a natural and necessary human reaction as it helps to slow down rotation. Getting slapped or punched is a real hazard. It's the responsibility of the spotter to be aware.


·       Reaction time is critical so if you feel sluggish for some reason, don't accept the responsibility.




Signed by (Name of Spotter): _________________________________________


Date: ____________________________________________________________



Signature: ________________________________________________________