Using Mats to Spot:
Mats can be a great benefit to helping spot kids. Sometimes the mat can do all the work, sometimes it’s an aid. Use mats when able to save some of your muscles and joints. Use blocks when you need additional height such as when vaulting or spotting high bar skills. Use landing/crash mats as appropriate to save the student on impact or for help with drills.
Before using any approved mat, make sure the mat is clean and dry. Know where you are placing and why it needs to be there (don’t just guess). Understand how the different thicknesses of mats can be used. Using the wrong thickness can be harmful to the athlete. And know and understand all the safety guidelines of the mats you’re using.
In closing, what is a good spot? One where the child survives? One where the child is successful? One where the child does the skill well and is given the proper feelings at the proper time in the skill? I think it is the latter. Spotting should be used as a guiding force in the development of a skill but never a dominating one. I feel like I can’t reinforce this enough… never spot to do. Spot to assist. Spot to give them the proper feelings and spot to help make your athletes better. Spot to give them confidence. Spot to build trust and help secure the bond with your athletes. Be smart about it and be safe. Remember they should be your partner in the turn or attempt and not your unsuspecting victim of your desire to see how high they can fly on a back tuck.