Becoming a Skilled Spotter
Pick a spotter you trust. Your spouse/partner might seem like a good choice, but consider the stress of the situation you might be in and its effect on the rest of your trip and the group. Meet with your spotter before entering the obstacle and determine the line you want to take. If in doubt, walk it with your spotter so both are on the same page. Once you are following the spotter, you the driver are a robot, and must do no more and no less than what the spotter signals to you.
A good spotter will need minimum vocal commands. There may be other people, vehicles, environmental noises or too much distance to effectively speak commands to the driver. You'll also react faster to visual commands than audible commands. Only watch, and listen to your spotter. There may be onlookers yelling their own ideas of what to do. If it becomes too distracting roll up your windows, or ask them to keep quiet.
Wear gloves with a brightly colored palm or contrasting colors for better visibility against the environment you’re in. Typical winching gloves (with the loose cuff) can get caught in open winch hooks and pull your hand into the fairlead. A Velcro cuff prevents this.
Stick to high ground. When spotting a vehicle, you'll want to keep the tires (whenever possible) on the high points to travel over an obstacle. To get around tighter obstacles remember to “steer for the rear” and allow for the turning radius of the vehicle.
If at any time you are uncomfortable with the position of the vehicle, STOP, and inform the driver. Back the vehicle out and take an alternate line.
The spotter should always be in view of the driver, have a clear view of the terrain and all four wheels. Sometimes an additional spotter is needed on the opposite side of the vehicle to assist. They should be in full view of the lead spotter and use hand signals to communicate with each other.
Rock stacking is a common task for a spotter and is another reason to wear gloves. Ledges can be too high, and pits can be too deep, but some well placed rocks will avoid body damage in most cases. Be mindful that rocks can shoot out from under the tires.
Watch your footing when walking a vehicle through an obstacle. Rocks become slippery with trail dust on them. A good set of boots will provide better traction and support your ankles. Have the vehicle wait as you reposition to a new location and continue spotting.
Use of a handheld radio can make communications faster if a detailed explanation is needed and the spotter is far away. This will save both time and energy from running back and forth to the driver, but it should not be relied on for the main form of communication. Pick an alternate frequency from the main channel used by the group.