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April 4, 2013 • Strength & Conditioning

Powerline: Guidelines for spotters in the weight room

Photo: Ken Mannie

One of the most underestimated and underrated components of a successful strength-training program is the role of the training partner or spotter.

Here at Michigan State University, our athletes train in pairs within smaller groups for a host of technical and motivational reasons. We put special emphasis on the spotter’s responsibilities in assuring both the safety and productivity of the lifter.

Here is a short list of a spotter’s most important responsibilities:

  • Always be alert and cognizant of what your partner is about to attempt, and be with him or her every step of the way.
  • Get in the best possible position to spot the upcoming lift.
  • Always check the bar on both sides for an even weight distribution and a collar/clamp.
  • Guide the lift-off, when called for, on the designated command of the lifter.
  • Use two hands when assistance is needed — don’t tip the bar by using only one hand. Spotters should have good position and balance when assisting student-athletes.
  • Maintain a firm, solid stance for balance.
  • Encourage good technique and great effort.
  • Be able to spot the entire host of modalities to be used (e.g., Olympic bars, machines, dumbbells).
  • Always assist with changing weights.
  • Don’t unnecessarily crowd the lifter; give him or her space to work.
  • Maintain constant communication.


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