Judging during the Open

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jay-zGuest blog post by Jay-Z

The quality of judging is a critical part of CrossFit competitions and ultimately assuring the integrity of CrossFit as a sport. Poor judging can have a serious effect on an athlete’s performance costing them reps and even rounds and if standards aren’t universally adhered to it isn’t fair on the athletes involved.

Below are some tips, based on my experience of judging at small local throwdowns as well as major competitions. These are aimed at helping people new to judging successfully judge athletes during the Open at CFSL.

There are some critical ‘safety’ tips below which are even more important for smaller/in-house comps where space is very tight and athletes are often less experienced.

What’s my role as a Judge?

  • Ensure your athlete maintains movement standards for all reps.
  • Accurately record the results of the workout.
  • Ensure the safety of your athlete and other athletes / judges / spectators in the vicinity.


How do I know I’m doing a decent job?

  • You’re able to record the athlete’s progress and observe all reps.
  • You and your athlete are never confused about the rounds they’ve completed, reps/time left in a round, or the final result.
  • Your judging hasn’t detracted from the athlete’s performance.
  • People want you to judge them.
  • Nobody is getting hurt on your watch.


Is the Judge a motivator?

  • If you were judging in a major comp like DWF, BoL, the Regionals etc. you are not there to be a cheerleader or coach athletes.
  • However, during the Open at CFSL, motivating your athlete, helping them stay calm, recover from difficulties, giving them tips or helping them stay on track with their chosen WOD strategy are all fine PROVIDING it doesn’t come at the expense of maintaining standards, accurate workout recording or safety.
  • If you want to get fancy, ask your athlete what works for them.  Shouting “c’mon pick up the f@#k’ing bar!” in your athlete’s ear doesn’t necessarily help everyone…so I’ve been told.


Pre-WOD: Get organised, give confidence, clarify requirements

  • Know the WOD and movement standards, in particular the start and finish positions of a rep, if you’re not sure ask a coach. If there’s a standards video, watch it.
  • To ensure you don’t lose count, decide how you will keep track of reps e.g. using tally marks for individual reps or, for high rep WODs like Karen you may want to use tally marks for every 10 reps completed. Ask a coach for tips on how to do this if you’re unsure.
  • Know your athlete’s name and introduce yourself, help make them feel at ease, give them confidence that they are in safe hands.
  • Confirm they understand the WOD. Don’t assume they do.
  • Ask them to demonstrate a few reps of each movement so you can see they know the standard and you can both agree what a good rep looks like.
  • Brief the athlete on anything you are looking out for, in particular common faults e.g. full lockout on pressing overhead, hips fully open on burpees, hips breaking parallel on overhead squats. If you’re unsure what to look for ask a coach.
  • Tell the athlete how you will count and confirm reps/no reps.  e.g. for each movement you will count the last 5 reps down aloud to them, for reps that meet standard you will show them a thumbs up – confirm with them that that will work for them.
  • SAFETY – Ensure the athlete’s working area is defined and clear of unnecessary obstructions.
  • Ask the athlete if they have any other requirements that might help and if they have any other questions.


During the WOD: Get in a good position, record accurately, keep your athlete informed, keep everyone safe

  • Get in a position that allows you to confirm your athlete is meeting the standards and doesn’t get in the way of your athlete or other athletes / judges during any part of the WOD.
  • If you no-rep your athlete immediately let them know why so they can correct the fault for the next rep.
  • If you’re in a good position and you’re unsure whether the standard was met, it is probably a “no-rep” so call it as a no-rep.  It’s the athlete’s responsibility to make it crystal clear to you that they have met the standard (assuming you are in a good position).
  • Count aloud so the athlete is clear of where they are.
  • If they break up a movement e.g. let’s say they drop the bar at 6 of 15 snatches, when they drop let them know clearly how many they have completed, when they pick the bar up again let them know again how many they’ve completed or how many they have left to do.
  • Periodically let them know throughout the WOD how much time they have left/has passed.
  • SAFETY – Be conscious of trip hazards as the WOD progresses bars, plates, people, ropes, chalk buckets etc.
  • SAFETY – Watch for collars coming loose on bars during workouts. If the looseness of collars becomes a potential hazard, stop the athlete and direct them to make the bar safe before continuing.
  • SAFETY – As athletes get tired they tend to become more unsafe e.g. dropping bars from height or behind them, throwing ropes to one side after completing DUs, or in extreme circumstances losing awareness of where they are in relation to other athletes. If any of these types of behaviour start to happen clearly direct the athlete to stop it.


Post-WOD: Get your admin done and high fives all around

  • Ensure you’ve accurately recorded the results of the workout.
  • Confirm the result with the athlete.
  • If you and/or the athlete are required to sign the record make sure you both do.
  • Congratulate them, they’ve just put themselves out there and given their all.
  • Ensure your record gets back to the collection point straight after the WOD.
  • If the athlete has any disputes or issues with how they were judged or the recorded results get the head judge involved, that’s one of their jobs.


Athletes – You also contribute to the quality of your judging

  • If there are things you know the judge can do or not do to help you, other than “bro-repping”, e.g. you want them to count every single rep aloud, ask your judge beforehand otherwise don’t be upset if they don’t do it!
  • If you have any disputes, ask for directions to the head judge and raise it with them.

Judging in CrossFit is a skill in itself and is best learned by doing.  As with everything else we do, have a go, and learn, adapt, and improve. Let’s ensure this Open makes us better athletes, better judges and stronger as a community.

Good luck with the rest of your Open!

Below are some links to some online articles which may be of interest:

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