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Judge Me Not

Last weekend I was a judge for the infamous “Weighted Vest Event” at the MD/DE/PA sectionals, the first step in qualifying for the 2010 CrossFit games. It was a long day, with the event itself lasting 20 minutes and having only 5 minutes between heats from 9:00am until about 6:30pm.

Before each heat, I would introduce myself to the athlete, get their scorecard (which they carried with them for the judges at each event to record their scores on), explain in detail the standards for the movements they’d be doing, get them set up on the rower, and then watch their every move like a hawk. For the double-unders, the rope had to pass under the feet twice on EACH jump for a rep to be counted. For the wallballs, their hip crease had to go BELOW their kneecap and the ball had to TOUCH the wall ABOVE the 10′ line (8′ for the women). For the ring pushups the vest had to TOUCH the weight plate below the rings and their arms had to be COMPLETELY locked out at the top, and their body had to remain COMPLETELY straight throughout the entire movement. For the pullups, their chin had to be not only above the horizontal plane created by the bar, but it also had to break the VERTICAL plane of the bar as well (pulling their face forward to bring their chin in FRONT of the bar). If ANY of those things did not happen, the rep did not count and the athlete had therefore wasted the valuable energy required to almost accomplish another rep.

I had to take double-under reps from athletes who would do the classic “ALMOST a double” on the last rep and then put the rope down. Nope, sorry man – that last one didn’t go under your feet twice. Wallballs were the worst part of the WOD – I had to take countless reps from athletes whose hip crease went TO parallel but not BELOW it, or the ball would HIT the 10′ line and not go OVER it or it would go plenty high enough and not touch the wall. If a knee came down a split second before the arms were completely locked out on the pushups, no rep. If their chin was plenty high enough but their face didn’t go OVER AND IN FRONT OF the bar, then it wasn’t a pullup according to the standards.

There were a few guys who got frustrated with me (as if I were to blame for the fact that they didn’t throw the ball high enough), but for the most part the frustration was directed (in a very positive way) at themselves. These athletes did what any true athlete would do when they tried and failed: they picked themselves up and tried harder. They made sure that the next rep would count no matter what. They squatted CLEARLY below parallel and threw the ball as high as they possibly could at that moment to avoid losing another rep. They didn’t want to fail, they wanted to succeed. And then when they missed ANOTHER rep, they picked themselves up again and tried even HARDER.

You want to get better at CrossFit (or at anything)? Be your own standards judge, and don’t accept anything less than EVERYTHING required for a valid rep. Take reps away from yourself if they don’t meet the standards, and then make sure you EXCEED the standards on the next rep. If you allow yourself to get away with even the tiniest discrepancy in any rep you’re cheating yourself out of your own success. Rise above “the cream of the crap” and kick some ass instead.

Today’s WOD:

5 Rounds for time of:

3 Power Snatches (95/63)
15 Overhead Squats (95/63)
400m Run

  • Brett W

    Very well said Tai. That is exactly what I walked away with from my experience at sectionals. It has become abundantly obvious to me that the manner in which I push myself directly relates to the manner in which I will perform in competition, be it crossfit or not. If I count bad reps for the sake of not losing ground to the guy next to me (Dave!!!) then I’m training at a sub par level. As you said, I’m wasting valuable energy and cheating myself just to look better on the white board. I know not everyone in our box wants to compete in crossfit BUT I’m positive everyone wants to be better at all these things for their own reasons. Be it weight loss, muscle gain, overall healthy living or improvement in a sport outside crossfit…the same standards apply. We all have to be our own Tai in a mustard colored t-shirt stealing reps from our selves. If anyone doesn’t feel able to do that, be confident in knowing that I have NO problem doing it for you. Just let Tai or me or Mike know you’re ready to hold yourself to the true standards of Crossfit.