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Old 03-29-2011, 04:53 PM   #1
Joey's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Liberty Twp, OH
Posts: 222
Default Rules For Great Spotters & Great Drivers

Not mine, but good info:

There are a lot of fine points to the art of spotting. Great spotting, truly refined expertise in this area, is something that takes a lot of time and a lot of experience to learn. It is experience one gains from watching others and trying to apply what you have learned from watching.
It would not make sense to try to write about the finer points of great spotting. However, there are a few things that all spotters should know from the start that pave the way for a safer and more enjoyable trail experience.
Drivers should be as knowledgeable about the basic rules of spotting as the spotters are. Drivers have a different set of spotting rules to follow but the rulse for drivers are just as important as the rules for spotters.
Very little has been written for drivers on the subject of spotting. Hopefully that will change with this article since the second section is dedicated to the driver.
When both sides follow the rules the trail becomes a much smoother place.
(Note to the would-be spotter: Reading this article does not make you a spotter. It is designed to help you understand the dynamics of spotting more fully. Any given trail-run normally has one or two club assigned trail leaders or spotters. You will be a lot more liked when you are on the trails if you acknowledge the hierarchy and organization of a run and not try to subvert it.)
Rule #1 of spotting, the first rule of ALL GREAT SPOTTERS is this...
* A good spotter will always look for another person who is already spotting the driver and will then do nothing but wait to be asked for help.
Think about this sentence for a minute. Virtually EVERYONE on a club run can, and should, be a spotter but only if they are all reminded of that rule. Following the Spotting Rule #1 will keep things a lot more organized than those unruly times when EVERYONE is yelling directions.
This could be rule #1, it is a toss-up. It is the only rule I see broken more than rule #1. It seems like we forget, many times, to bother to ask the driver if he would LIKE to have a spot. There are many drivers who will know their truck well enough to be able to just �know� where the rocks are. Then there are guys who just don't want to have a spotter.
* A good spotter will always ask the driver if he would like to have a spot before he starts issuing signals.
A good spotter knows that there will always be others yelling directions from the trail side and he knows that there will always be a newer driver who finds that confusing. This being the case, rule # 3 of great spotting is...
* Create a bond with the driver. Make sure he is locked on to you and only you.
This is done by taking the time to walk up to the driver and have a small drivers chat.... "Hey, I am going to spot you through this. I want you to focus on me and tune everyone else out, OK?" It is funny but dive instructors do something very similar to this when bringning a student down for the first time. They use two fingers in the shape of a V and move them from their eyes toward yours while locking in your gaze to theirs. For some odd reason they have learned that doing so actually helps a new diver get through the initial anxiety of being under water and being able to actually breath.
Creating a bond with the driver goes a long way to help him get through those times when there are a lot of people trying to spot.
With engine noise, other vehicles, people talking and the distance between the spotter and the driver who may be in the middle of an obstacle verbal signals are not always the most effective way to communicate.
With that in mind, rule #4 of great spotting is...
* A great spotter will make sure that the driver understands the hand signals he uses. You can do this while you are having your little drivers chat.
Here are a few examples used in our club...
• STOP: We use a closed fist for a stop.
• TURN RIGHT OR LEFT: We point with the index finger (or thumb) to the left or the right when we want the driver to turn the wheel and, if he is not turning far enough we point and push the finger in that direction at the same time.
• ADVANCE: We extend an open hand so that the palm is facing AWAY from the driver, we then fold the thumb in so that it is not confused as a directional signal, and, keeping the fingers together, we wave the fingers inward a repeating manner.
• REVERSE: Using one or both open palms, FACING the driver, we make a pushing motion in a repeating manner. When doing reverse we may go to the back of the vehicle to help the driver back up safely.
The spotter may want to have someone at the rear of the vehicle to keep an eye on things. This person will only make a signal to STOP when the vehicle is in a situation where a stop is needed. The tail spotter will not do any actual spotting for the driver.
At this point the article has been mainly about spotters but DRIVERS can have a HUGE part in how organized or disorganized spotting is around his vehicle. Oddly enough, drivers can do a lot to encourage great spotting. In fact, when a driver knows great spotting he can do certain things that can force a spotter to follow the rules without ever saying a word.
Neat, huh?
Whether or not he will be spotted is up to the driver and the driver should be the one who decides if he wants a spot or not. The means that drivers rule #1 is...
* Ask for a spot or specify that you do not want a spot.
If you do NOT want a spot it is sometimes helpful to say it loud enough to be heard over all of the noise of the run (or, really, to make sure everyone hears you).
The spotter may not instinctively know that if he stops moving you should stop moving. In fact, he may even ask you why you stopped moving. Here rule #2 comes in...
* If spotter is not moving or directing you in some way then don't move. It should always be like this...if the spotter moves, you move, if the spotter stops moving, you stop moving.
In the event that your spotter does not practice Spotter Rule #3 about creating a bond then you, the driver, can make it happen. Driver rule #3 is...
* Lock on to your spotter and tune everyone else out.
This accomplishes another effect. With the driver and the spotter locked observers (would be spotters) quickly learn that you are not listening to them, you are listening to the spotter. Once they catch on to this they will start yelling at the spotter and not at you.
For the record, a lot of these issues would not need to be brought up if more folks just backed off spotting and focused on watching the spotter and learning from him.
Fortunately, it is a lot easier to teach drivers how to pay attention to spotters and to teach spotters how to get drivers to focus on them than it is to teach every person on every trail-run to not try to help with spotting. It is just human nature to help out. (non-spotters, are you getting a message here?)
This being the case, our expectations of spotters and drivers needs to be set correctly. When both the driver AND the spotter are on the same page all the yelling in the world won't make a darn bit of difference.
Ed. Note: Dan Strà is the President and founder of The JonFund ORVA. He has been into off-roading in one form or another for over 7 years. Comments should be addressed to [email protected]
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