Judging for the CrossFit Open: What You Need to Know, by Lisa Ricker, PT, DPT and CF-L1, CF-L2 and CrossFit Judge
So, the CrossFit Open is upon us! While most of us use it to see how we have improved year over year, it is, still, a competition. And in order to allow us to compare fairly to everyone else—whether against our age group, our region, or our box—we all have to conform to the same standards. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind about judging for the CrossFit Open.
CrossFit is no different than any other competition and has its standards.
In the Open, we get a chance to judge each other. It is really important to spend time judging; both for the experience, and to allow us to get everyone scored.
Judging for the CrossFit Open: Your Role
A judge is responsible for counting reps and keeping time, absolutely, but also has the responsibility to make sure that the athlete meets the standards and executes the workout as written.
Unfortunately, when judging people who are working really hard, it is often tempting to give them credit for their EFFORT. Maybe that squat wasn’t quite deep enough, but it’s better than they have ever done before, isn’t that worth something??
Of course it is!!
But in order to be fair across the board to everyone, the rep can only count if it meets the standards.
“Bro reps” (or “sista reps”) get a bad rap, but usually they are just about giving someone credit for working hard, not about trying to game the system. The athlete does deserve credit, but not as a counted rep.
So if we can be really familiar with standards, we can make sure we count appropriately, and then cheer a lot for all the hard work!
Here are some standards that impact most movements in the CrossFit Open:
Anything that involves a squat requires that the hip crease is BELOW the top of the knee.
- squat cleans,
- squat snatch,
- wall balls,
- overhead squats, etc.
Sometimes with baggy shorts it’s tough to see. The bulk of the thigh may be above both, making it even tougher to judge. To make it easy, athletes make sure you get deep enough to make it easy on your judge.
Diagram A shows a squat where the hip crease is AT the level of the knee, which is a NO REP. (You can see why baggy shorts that bunch up at the hip can have an impact!)
Any movement that goes overhead, with dumbbells or barbells or kettlebells, requires that the devices is OVER or BEHIND the middle of the body, with the arm(s) extended. This is tough to do, and see, when someone is moving quickly. Imagine a straight line extending from the ankle through the hips, shoulder, head, into the air. The device needs to be in or behind that line.
So this first picture is clearly a “NO REP”. The athlete has his knees and hips extended, there is a nice line from ankle to shoulders, but the bar is in front of that line.
Keep it Fair When Judging for the CrossFit Open
Telling someone “No rep!” is tough, but it allows us to be fair, and helps the athlete improve. As an athlete, the instant you get a “no rep” there might be a reaction to discuss it.
During a workout, the best thing to do is for the judge to give a quick reason for the judgment, and for the athlete to keep going. It’s great to use “NO REP, DEPTH”, or “NO REP, MISSED THE WALL” or similar, so the athlete can adjust.
Athletes, having a discussion during a WOD while the clock is running typically doesn’t help your overall results.
Judging for the CrossFit Open: Keep it Clear
When judging for the CrossFit Open, the focus is on the athlete working; there really isn’t much time for motivating, coaching, or critiquing.
Encouragement during the CrossFit Open is welcome, but if you can’t say “good job” until after an athlete has finished, that’s OK.
As judges, we need to be clear with our counting, and our no reps, so the athlete knows what’s happening. Judges are welcome to count out loud, or not, I often ask my athlete what they prefer. Most like to hear something along the way, so they aren’t off track.
Often when they are doing a lot of quick reps, like dubs or single unders, it is almost impossible to count out loud for every rep, and can be distracting. Counting every 10 reps out loud works well in that situation. Find a comfortable method for you and your athlete.