Judging and Athleting
Judging and Athleting: Navigating the Waters
We hear a lot in CrossFit about Rich Froning, Camille Leblanc, Annie Thorsidottir, all of these incredible humans doing super fit things. What we hear a lot less about is the people on the other side of the stage, the person holding up fingers and dishing out no reps, the all powerful judge. Without the judge, we would have no competitions. From the CrossFit Games all the way down to your local competitions. None of these would be possible without people volunteering to judge and count for the competitors.
I have competed in my fair share of CrossFit events, both locally and on the big stage. I have had a few bad judges and many more good judges. After every workout, I make a point to thank my judge for being there. I know that without them, I could not do what I love. It can be very easy to get wrapped up in the competition and forget this little fact, but the truth is that we need them and they don’t need us. So this article is about the tips and tricks for athletes and judges on how to handle competitions and your respective roles in the athlete/judge relationship. It is a little lengthy, but try to stick with it! I have had the privilege to be on both sides of the coin and am grateful for my experiences. I think that everyone in this community should give both sides a try, you may be surprised by what you discover on the other side!
- Ask your athlete if they have questions: everyone who steps out on the competition floor is a little bit nervous (and if they say they aren’t then they are a) lying or b) on a lot of prozac). They are going to have questions and want clarification on things, give them the opportunity to voice those even if it means you have to repeat something that they’ve probably heard already (sometimes your brain stops working under high stress, that is definitely a scientific fact).
- Use your power for good, not evil: if your athlete is moving like a dream, racing to the front of the pack, and slaying it, then do not no rep them for no reason! I have seen judges who feel like it is their job to give out at least one no rep when they judge. This is not the case. Giving a no rep does not mean you have done your job right, giving good reps when they are good and no reps when they are not means you have done your job right. Kudos to the athlete if they move through a workout and meet the standards on every rep, reward them for that instead of flaunting power just because you can.
- A good effort does not always equal a good rep: I have also seen judges give out reps for trying hard. That is insulting to the other athletes, judges, and the athlete being judged. Giving out good reps when they are not deserved is not going to make that athlete better. It will make him or her think that they are good to go when they reality is that they have some work to do. A no rep is a learning experience for an athlete. It teaches them what they need to work on and helps them improve, do not take that experience away from them! Other athletes busting their butts and getting quality reps in deserve to be rewarded and to move ahead of those who are not getting it done. Respect the game y’all.
- Help your athlete out: if an athlete is getting “no rep” after “no rep,” give them some help. I am not saying that you need to coach them, just let them know why they are being no repped. If they are moving fast, give a quick reason: “no rep, hips open,” “no rep, depth,” “no rep, head through,” and the list goes on. Nothing fancy, just a quick reason why so they don’t keep doing it. If an athlete asks you what they are doing wrong, then you have an obligation to let them know. It is not a secret puzzle for them to figure out and part of the workout is not having to guess at the standards or what you are seeing that they are doing wrong. Let them know what you see and why it is not enough for a good rep.
- Congratulate your athlete at the end: in the end, this sport is about community. Judges know the pain athletes are going through. You have done the same or similar workouts, workouts have put you on your back, and you have red lined your heart out as well. The least you can do after a workout is congratulate your athlete for their effort. Give ’em a high five or pat on the shoulder before shoving the score card in their face for their scribbled excuse for a signature.
- Introduce yourself to your judge: yes, I am asking you to engage in human contact. Treat your judge like a person with a name and a story. They are there because they volunteered, not because they are getting paid or getting glory or recognition. It is a thankless job and the least you can do is engage in general human decency. What you are doing as an athlete is not more important as what you are doing as a living, breathing being. How you do on the workout will not solve world hunger or cure cancer, keep everything in perspective. At the end of your workout, thank your judge for being there, whether you liked their judgement calls or not, because they did not have to be and you could not have been there either if they had not volunteered.
- Do not be that guy or girl: we all know who I am talking about. I must admit that in a more immature time in my life, I was once this person. Do not talk back to your judge. Do not yell at him or her. Do not swear at him or her. Do not insult his or her intelligence. Remember that they do not have to be there. Remember that judging is hard. There is a lot going through your head as a judge: is my athlete achieving the movement standard, how many reps is that, is my athlete in his or her lane, is my athlete safe, are athletes and judges around me safe, am I safe ? That is a lot going on all at once and the judge really does have to think about all of it. If they make a bad call, it does not mean that they are a bad person. Work really hard to make it blatantly obvious to your judge that you are performing the reps correctly so they do not have to make a close call. You have no right ever to be a crappy human being just because you disagreed with how they were judging you.
- Ask questions: if you have a question before the workout, ask your judge. If you are unsure of why you are being no repped during a workout, ask your judge. Do not keep trying the same thing over and over, hoping that this time they will count it, figure out why they are not counting it and fix it. Communication is the key to figuring this stuff out, not frustration and throwing a tantrum.
- Stay in your lane: I mean this both physically and mentally. Do not leave your lane with your body or your equipment, endangering the safety of others. Your judge will no rep you if you do that, so avoid that by staying in your lane. Mentally, do not look over at other lanes at what judges and athletes are doing. That is out of your control. Looking at another athlete who is getting reps for what you think should be no reps is out of your control. That is up to the head judge to sort out, not you.
- Do not be that guy or girl: YES THIS ONE IS HERE TWICE….READ IT AGAIN. We all know who I am talking about. I must admit that in a more immature time in my life, I was once this person. Do not talk back to your judge. Do not yell at him or her. Do not swear at him or her. Do not insult his or her intelligence. Remember that they do not have to be there. Remember that judging is hard. There is a lot going through your head as a judge: is my athlete achieving the movement standard, how many reps is that, is my athlete in his or her lane, is my athlete safe, are athletes and judges around me safe, am I safe ? That is a lot going on all at once and the judge really does have to think about all of it. If they make a bad call, it does not mean that they are a bad person. Work really hard to make it blatantly obvious to your judge that you are performing the reps correctly so they do not have to make a close call. You have no right ever to be a crappy human being just because you disagreed with how they were judging you.
For Athletes and Judges:
- Counting is hard: losing count is not new to anyone, we have all had a workout where we lost count. Athletes must be aware that this will sometimes happen. Judges should also be aware of this and take every precaution to avoid it happening. Write reps down on a paper, on your hand, hold fingers up, count out loud, whatever it takes to stay on track. Both sides know that it happens and is nothing to get panties in a bunch about.
- Know as much as you can before getting on the floor: it is the responsibility of both parties to be aware of the standards. Competitions these days are full of videos of movement standards and/or athlete briefings. Judges get the same information. Pay attention to all of that business, they tell you because you need to know it on the floor.
- When in doubt, ask the head honcho: if you are confused about a standard, the workout, the layout, literally anything, then ask the person/people in charge. The people running the event have the answers so turn to them instead of making up an answer or talking amongst those of lower rank. If you are worried about them being too busy of you or annoyed by your pesky question, think of how much more annoyed they will be if you screw up on the floor or get hurt or do something insane because you never asked in the first place. They want to run a smooth event and part of that is clarifying things for all parties involved.
Here is a YouTube video of a demo workout that demonstrates some of these points.
Here is a link to take the 2016 Judges course and be able to judge anyone for the 2016 Open.