We complete workouts all of the time without the help of a judge. We do our squats, our cleans, and countless other movements without anyone telling us if we had a good rep or a bad rep. We bang them out and trust our own judgment. However, if you have ever been in a competition or even competed in The Open, you know that judges are a necessity. It can be a nerve-wracking experience to have a judge next to you. They grab their little clipboard and pen, and start ticking away at your movements.

Here’s the thing: If you train correctly, the presence of a judge shouldn’t rock your world too much. There is an important balance in the judge-athlete relationship. There is a lot riding on the athlete, but there is also a lot of pressure on the judge. The goal in the end, on both sides, should always be integrity.

judge1 (1)Until you have been a judge, you cannot begin to imagine how hard of a job it is. Even judging fellow athletes in your box is a stressful event. It seems easy enough. You watch them work out and throw out a “no rep” when they don’t break parallel or when they don’t throw their elbows through on a clean. Easy, right? Wrong. What happens when you have a girl who squats so fast you cannot clearly see her open her hips at the top of the squat? What happens when you know for sure one toe touched the bar on toes to bar, but you have no idea if the other one did? When in doubt, “no rep!” It’s a hard phrase to throw out there. You know that athlete is working their hardest. You know saying that phrase makes them have more work to do, but it’s about integrity. Anytime I have judged a local competition I make sure the athlete knows that nothing can be left in my hands. If there is a question, I call a no rep. It’s the athlete’s job to make sure they stand up all of the way. It is the athlete’s job to make sure they get both toes on that bar every time. When the athlete leaves room for uncertainty, the athlete is not doing her job.

When you leave ambiguity in your movements, you cannot get mad at the judge. Not only have I judged local competitions, but I have also been verbally accosted at local competitions. Don’t yell at your judge. Don’t be that guy. We get it. You are killing yourself in the WOD. We see it. If you don’t want to be no-repped, do your job. Make every movement precise and clear. Yes, you need to go fast, but you also need to be correct. Don’t lose your mind when you get a no rep. It happens to the best of them. Watch the CrossFit Games. The best athletes in the world are redoing movements over and over again. Yelling at your judge doesn’t improve your movements, and frankly it just pisses the judge off. Is that really what you want? The judge’s job is to keep you honest and to make sure you are safe and effective. You would rather be standing on a podium because you know for a fact you got it right than be standing up there with a pocket full of “bro-reps”.

We have all watched or participated in competitions where there is some shady judging. It sucks. I recently watched a video of a local competition where six men in the heat were preforming thrusters. The problem was no one was actually doing a thruster! The depth was not there, and no one’s arms were locked out at the top. The “judges” next to the athletes lost all integrity in that video. No one was calling a no rep, no one was correcting form, and no one ever did a single correct thruster! It was infuriating to watch. I am sure it was more infuriating to be in the competition and do the work correctly while watching these people get away with that.

The athletes are responsible for correct movement, but when it is not correct, it is the judge’s job to step up and correct it for them. If you are ever a judge, don’t be timid. It is better to be too strict and leave no room for doubt than to allow athletes to get away with sloppy movement and compromise the integrity of the sport.

We talk a lot about integrity in CrossFit. We ask our athletes to be honest in their rep count and their round count. We ask them to be honest in their time they post on the whiteboard. However, we also ask them to be honest in their movements. If they are not going to do it right, there is no reason to be at the gym in the first place. When you decide to take the leap into competition, your job is to be authentic and straightforward in your work. Don’t leave anything in the judge’s hands. And judges, when it is left in your hands, you need to be direct. It is the combination of our judges and our athletes that show the world that CrossFit is a sport of integrity.

Author: Amanda Stewart

My name is Amanda Stewart. I am a CrossFit trainer, a fitness writer, and a full time mom. I live in Oklahoma with my wonderful family, and spend my days training athletes, working out, and writing about it. I stumbled into a CrossFit gym four years ago and never looked back. After a few years, I obtained my CrossFit Level 1 certification, quit my full time teaching job, and began pursuing my dream of being a writer. I write for a few publications, but you can often find me at my personal blog, www.insidetheaverage.com.

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