How To Be A Good CrossFit Open Participant
Written by Bryce Smith

With the CrossFit Open approaching us, we know CrossFit athletes all around the world are preparing their bodies and minds for a grueling competition full of intensity, emotion, excitement, and nervousness. We will witness tears, smiles, laughter, anxiousness, fun, disappointment, new PRs, could haves, should haves, would haves, incredible examples of resilience and grit, along with growth and fear. But it is an opportunity for each of us to experience what it’s like to be the man in the arena. 

“It is not the critic who counts. Not the man who points out how the strong

man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit

belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by

dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short

again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions;

who spends himself in a worthy cause. Who, at the best, knows in the end

the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, at least fails while

daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those timid souls who

know neither victory nor defeat.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

With that being said, competition brings out the best and worst of us. Standards will be released for each workout and each athlete will go to extreme lengths to efficiently score their highest and perform at their best. We will see questionable lockouts, questionable squat depth, questionable hip extension, and overall questionable movements and behavior. As a judge, it is important to be clear, transparent, and concise in efficiently delivering the instructions to the athletes. On the contrary, we will also see beautiful movement and quality application of the movement standards. In some cases, we can view these two variables as extremely polarizing and on two ends of the spectrum. On one side, perfect technique is safe, easy to judge, optimizes biomechanics, but can sometimes be slower. Extreme speed and intensity skirts the line a bit, is sometimes hard to judge, but puts athletes in the conversation for the fastest times on particular workouts.

So which is better? Athletes are trying to win with speed and intensity, but athletes must also abide by the standards released by CrossFit for each workout. The answer is to do BOTH. Make your greatest attempt to hold the given movement standards while integrating intensity and quality movement. Judges should feel comfortable to assign a “no rep” when the standard is not met, and athletes should understand that when the standard is not met, a “no rep” will be assigned. At no time should a judge be fearful to do what is right in fear of upsetting the athlete who may be attempting to maximize their human potential in each open workout.

Always remember, that full effort is full victory. If each athlete gives their best effort, the outcome should not matter. With CrossFit being such a measurable and outcome based sport, many coaches, athletes, and spectators will have the question, “Hey, what was your score?” This can create a feeling of euphoria for athletes who are happy with the outcome of their workout, but this can also create a feeling of disappointment for athletes who did not meet their expectations. Try asking, “Hey, how did that feel?” By shifting the conversation to effort, it creates an honest conversation based on grit and comparison with one self, vs comparing to other athletes and other scores. It is and always has been you vs you. 

Throughout the CrossFit Open, athletes, spectators, judges, coaches, and the entire CrossFit Community will be “In the Arena,” and it is important that we practice optimal processes and procedures in order to be ideal CrossFit Open citizens. Best of luck in the Open to the entire CrossFit Community. 

Attacking the CrossFit Open with an Unconquerable Mindset

Download your FREE “Attacking the CrossFit Open with an Unconquerable Mindset” PDF for tips on how to approach the Open including:

And some additional bonuses and tips for: 

  • When to Attack the Open Workouts
  • Equipment Considerations
  • Nutrition Guidelines

While we can’t provide specific notes until we know the details of each workout, we hope that this general guide to approaching the Open at least gives you some of the tools to thrive in the upcoming Open.

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