The Open is once again upon us. For many The Open is their first experience receiving or giving a “No Rep”. During the last year I’ve judge about a half dozen more events, including our local Regional event. I originally posted this in late October 2015 and wanted to revisit these thoughts and add some insights and experiences. Big shout out to Todd, Boz, and Jason. Loved getting a chance to work with them! I might have stolen a few lines.
Friends don’t let friends do bad reps.
This is going to be my first post where I go into my own thoughts and experiences at length.
Today I judged my 10th local Crossfit event, not including the Open for the last 3 years. During this time I’ve earned the nickname “Judge No Rep”. As with most events, today I called out “No Rep” on friends and strangers alike. Certain athletes avoid me and advise their friends to avoid me. The most competitive athletes have no issues with me, seek me out, and thank me. Many coaches tell their athletes to seek me out. Event organizers are always glad to see me on their judges list.
So am I a hard-ass or an asset? I’m both, I hold athletes accountable because I care about them. During an event there was a particular event where after No Repping an athlete I doubted myself and thought I might not be judging the standard accurately. I immediately had a Head Judge in my ear telling me to keep an eye on the standard in question. Guess I wasn’t too harsh.
Why don’t friends let friends do bad reps?
- Safety- Never kid yourself barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells, even wall balls can cause serious injury. Bad form and deviations from movement standards, which happen more and more as we get tired, opens the door to injury. A “No Rep” can bring bad form to an athlete’s attention before an injury. I don’t want my friends to get hurt, I want to keep working out with them. During a particular event, where I was there as a competitor, I was watching a max clean where the athlete could have seriously injured themselves and instead of getting No Repped the athlete was cheered. Don’t let your friends be a fail video on YouTube.
- Health- We’ve all seen videos of accidents, acute injuries. The repeated strains and pulls caused by bad form and poor movement standards that result in chronic pain again can be just as debilitating as an acute injury. So again, I don’t want my friends to get hurt, I want to keep working out with them.
- Being competitive- We always want our friends to get good scores. We all know the basic movement standards they’re not news. When the comp judge no reps you because your hips aren’t open at the top of the squat or your knees aren’t locked out on push presses don’t be upset with the judge. Be upset with your friends and coaches who have been letting you get away with that crap. When my friends compete I want every rep to count. I want to be that good and I want my friends to be that good. That means holding ourselves to the highest standards at all times not just “when it matters”. You don’t want your friend’s qualification videos to be rejected, you don’t want them getting No Repped in a competition for performing the same movement pattern you’ve let them get away with.
- Ego- I’m not going to make it to Regionals. I probably won’t podium at the local comp. I don’t want sympathy reps. I’m critical of myself, I can see when a wall ball missed its mark. Getting a higher score I didn’t earn won’t make me like you more or make me feel better about my score. I want to succeed because I met the mark, overcame the challenges presented to me, and did it right. “There’s no emotion in range of motion.” Just because someone is a total badass and doing something you can only hope to aspire to doesn’t mean they want you to let them off easy.
As a judge here are some thoughts that will make your “No Reps” easier to dish out:
- Know the movement standards. Listen to the athlete briefing. If you’re unsure call over a head judge.
- Have your athletes demonstrate movements and Range of Motion. If their elbows don’t fully lock out or the brakes go on naturally when their hips are parallel with their knees you’ll know and won’t have to second guess it during the workout. Figure out what is a mobility issue before “3, 2, 1, Go!” It only takes a couple seconds to ask, “Are there any movement issues that you want me to know about?”
- Give them examples of common faults that you will “No Rep”. People are a lot less confused by the “No Rep” when it happens if they’ve been warned specifically.
- Put yourself in the best place to see what you need to see. For movements like chest-2-bar or toes-2-bar it can be helpful to be holding onto the bar. This will allow you to feel the contact. Play around with it. Due to the restrictions of an event I was forced to judge T2B from several feet off, turns out that was a great angle to see better at than from a foot away.
- If you see their movement deteriorating, heading towards a “No Rep”, give them a warning. Turns out in high level competition you aren’t allowed to do this.
- Communicate clearly. Speak up and use hand signals. Explain those hand signals before the workout starts. In the middle of a workout your athlete’s brain is not at its best. Now is not the time to be verbose. Had a great moment when an athlete corrected their movement when I started crossing my arms to No Rep them. They were intentional toying with the line of the movement standard to see if I’d notice and act, they didn’t have any issue meeting the standard.
- Give your athlete a loud, clear count for every movement. Other than for jumping rope, keeping up a verbal count on that is damn near impossible. Or unless your athlete specifically asks for a type of count or even no count until the end. Again, wasn’t allowed to do this at a high level comp.
- Never just skip counting a rep instead of calling out “No Rep”. Nothing will upset an athlete more than thinking they are done but they aren’t. Not knowing you’ve been given a “No Rep” … well it sucks, way more than being told at the time. Good athletes will power through and hit their desired sets.
- Whatever the “No Rep” is for, give the athlete a quick correction. Tell them exactly what they need to fix and make it snappy. How do you get good at that type of communication? You “No Rep” your friends when there’s nothing on the line (don’t do this unless they ask).
- If you have a free hand and can keep a count of the last 5 reps, put your hand up and count down the reps on your fingers. This gesture can give the athlete a boost and it communicates to the crowd. This will also help you keep count J
- You’re a judge, not a coach, not a cheerleader. Losing track of the count will be far more embarrassing than not offering advice or support. In many instances you won’t have the appropriate background with the athlete to provide wise council. IF the athlete’s progress has ground to a halt and NO ONE else is providing support or advice then perhaps give in to that temptation. As a cheerleader or a coach you can be have that emotional connection to the athlete’s success in that moment. If you are acting as a judge, in that moment, you need to have some distance.
- After a heat/event is a much better time to congratulate or advise athletes or chat with coaches.
- Sometimes this are going poorly for an athlete you have to question: Are they purposefully trying to cheat or subvert the movement standard? Will allowing them to continue effect the outcome of the event?
As event organizers here is how you can make life easier on your judges:
- Test the workouts with judges in play. Judges can double the number of bodies on the floor. That should be taken into account.
- Don’t make your judges enforce weird non-critical details.
- Keep it straight up. Your favorite bizarre exercise that no one does and takes 5 minutes to explain probably doesn’t belong in a competition. Structure the rep counts so they are easy to count, no one wants to count 500 DU’s.
- Have enough time between workouts to let your judges get a break.
- Make sure there is room for notes on the scoresheets. Let the person/people running the scoreboard create sheets that make it easy to track and make the final score clear.
- Don’t crank up the volume extra loud. Pounding music is a part of any event, but if judges can’t communicate with the athletes, people get upset.
- Don’t use judges that won’t “No Rep”. Perhaps even coach them on doing so. If you can’t get enough judges, don’t hold an event. When athletes aren’t getting “No Reps” but they are deserved the community will notice and it won’t help your next event. We don’t like to admit it but there are athletes that will take advantage of a judge that won’t “No Rep” them. After a local comp an athlete came up and told me that they were impressed that I caught them each time they tried to cheat a movement standard.
- Have someone act as a head judge. This person shouldn’t be the MC, the event organizer, or the volunteer coordinator. They are too busy (generally so is the gym owner and the gym’s head coach, they have athletes in play). The head judge is responsible for communicating with judges, reviewing the big picture, and maintaining the standards. You maybe the owner and head coach, but leave correcting the judges to the head judge and “No Reps” to the judges.
You know you’ve done the job right when after a giving a “No Rep” the athlete, their friends, their teammates, and/or their coach nods their head or says thank you. Yes, I’ve been thanked for giving out the “No Rep”. People have gotten upset with me, asked me for explanations, but have never told me I was wrong. Sometimes the thing you “No Rep” an athlete for is the exact thing their coach has been working on.
I present this from my own experiences as a judge and as an athlete. Yes, I’ve been “No Repped”. Yes, I’ve disagreed with my judge’s call or count. But I’d always rather be held to my own standards then have someone go easy on me. Got some more “No Reps”, deserved them all.
Before I was an athlete or a judge I was a gamer, still am. Give me a system and my brain can’t help but to figure out how to break it. Being efficient is not the same as cheating. You don’t need me to tell you the difference. Don’t be “that guy”, be the guy (or gal) that steps up to the challenge of being better.
The best athletes I’ve seen just try to do it right each time. When they get a “No Rep” they change whatever they need to change and do it right. Intentionally trying to sneak in bad reps is just a good way to waste ATP and lose precious seconds.
Hold yourself more accountable on a regular basis and “no rep” yourself during regular WODs. I did this and still PR’d my Fran time.
Set up mock competitions with your friends. You will grow and become better together. “If there is doubt, there is no doubt, No Rep.” If you hold each other to this ideal how good do you think you’ll move and perform in the heat of competition?
Steel sharpens steel.
Photo from 2016 West Regionals