Judges: how qualified should they be?

Every competition has judging staff, but not every competition has the right judges. When you are considering how to staff out your judge roster, consider the quality of the judging. If they are unfair, unqualified or inconsistent and your athletes are unhappy, they will be unlikely to sign up for future events. If there aren’t any athletes, then you don’t have a competition.

Likewise, if you don’t have enough judges, they will be overworked, unhappy, and unlikely to volunteer in the future. Check out our post about how many your competition needs. In this article we will stick to the characteristics you might look for in a judge.

We recommend having your judges possess some (or better yet, all) of the following qualities:

  1. Have passed the Judge Course
  2. Are CF-L1 trainers or greater
  3. Have been doing functional fitness for over a year
  4. Have good attention spans
  5. Are confident (read: loud and effective!) communicators
  6. Have legible handwriting

What other qualities do you look for in a judge?

Volunteers: how many do you really need?

Few things have the ability to derail your competition like a lack of volunteers. But how many do you really need?

That depends on the size of your competition. There are three basic categories your volunteers fall into:

  1. Executive Staff

    • You, the event admin, cannot be the point person for everything. You need a small but mighty team of staff that is knowledgeable and close to you. We recommend having a person in charge of each of the following:
      • Equipment – You need someone in charge of all the equipment rotations that need to go on throughout the day – someone your equipment-mover volunteers can look to for questions
      • Judges (a head judge) – You need someone in charge of all the Judges who can be a second pair of eyes on the competition floor. The Head Judge makes all the final calls in terms of good rep/no rep, so we recommend that your Head Judge is at the very least an L1 with some judging and/or coaching experience.
      • Scoring/Score entry – You need someone in charge of score entry who is computer-literate. It’s helpful to give this role to someone with a temperament that doesn’t mind dealing with (sometimes heated) questions from athletes. You might be tempted to give this role to anyone who doesn’t want to be a Judge, but we recommend being thoughtful with your choice!
      • “Volunteer Wrangler” – We recommend having someone as the point person for your volunteers, should any questions arise. This person can also handle things like food deliveries, shift changes, making sure volunteers are okay, etc. It would be helpful if this person is also your First Aid point-person, and someone who can jump in as a judge if there is a need.
  2. Judges

    • You need judges – you know that – but to ensure the longevity of your event, you need *good* judges. You can find more of our thoughts on selecting judges with appropriate qualifications here, however, for the purpose of this article, we want to focus on quantity.
      • How many judges you need depends on how many athletes or teams will be competing at once. If you are only running one event at a time, this is easy to figure out. If you are running multiple events in tandem, you have to do a bit of math. We recommend having a 1.5:1 judge to athlete-per-heat ratio. For example, this means that if you are running 10 athletes or teams at a time, you should have 15 judges. This allows judges to rotate in and out as they need breaks (bathroom, lunch, eye fatigue, injury, etc). It may also be helpful to schedule your judges in sections of the day. Having an option to volunteer for an AM judge, a PM judge or an All Day judge might just improve your signups in the event that folks have part-day conflicts.
  3. Support Staff

    • There are a few additional volunteers that don’t fall into the Judge or Executive Staff categories, but are nonetheless important to consider for your event:
      • Parking lot wizards – responsible for helping people park efficiently, but also keeping them out of banned spots (nobody wants to announce license plates over the loudspeaker).
      • Athlete Check-in Table – responsible for getting athletes checked in, waivers signed and swag bags received
      • Merch Table, if you are selling your own merchandise on-site.
      • First Aid Tech – You might not need it…. but if you do and there isn’t one, you’re in a world of trouble. Make sure you stack up on First Aid equipment, as well.
      • Gear Team – Responsible for changing out equipment based on the workout. How many, again, depends on how many athletes you have, and how many different WOD implements. Don’t expect your judges to tackle this unless you explicitly state it at sign-up.
      • A Lively Emcee
      • A D.J.

5 Things That Will Make Your Swag Bags Better

Most competitions offer swag bags for pick-up at the registration table on event morning. What you might not know is that the items in your swag bag can directly affect your event favorability. Athletes expect a well-curated bag, but that is at odds with your goal of keeping costs low.

Here is a list of affordable, sure-to-impress products you may not have thought about including in your swag bag:

1. Strideline Socks

If you are tired of dealing with athlete shirt sizes, custom branded socks may be the perfect solution. There are no order minimums, but you will need a little more lead time than you would for shirt sizes – 3 weeks. However, because they are one-sized, it will be next to impossible to mess up an order. Bonus: You won’t receive any last-minute emails with requests to change an athlete’s shirt size.

 

2. Junk Headbands

Another non-shirt option for your swag bag is Junk Headbands. You can choose from one of their MANY headband options in a color scheme that matches your event branding, or you can have custom headbands made in a variety of styles.

3. Retail Coupons for Vendors At Your Event

Don’t just offer coupons in your bag – offer coupons for vendors that are present at your event, so your athletes can make a purchase right then and there. If you ask for swag bag coupon contributions as part of the cost of being a vendor or sponsor, this costs you nothing!

4. Creative Snacks

You can offer protein sample packets, but you can also get creative with your snack offerings! Consider offering something like Jelly Belly’s Sport Beans for a quick dose of carbs that your athletes will love snacking on between events.

5. Lunch Voucher

If you are running an all-day event, there is one universal truth: your athletes will need to eat at some point. Show them you’ve already thought about this by having a lunch offering on-site (maybe your local meal-prep company and/or a favorite food truck) and giving all athletes free or reduced lunch.

Op-Ed: Hosting Your Competition On Throwdowns.com Will Make Your Event Better

There are a lot of options on the market for competition registration and scoring solutions. Some are companies substantially larger than Throwdowns.com. A few require a smaller investment. Some have been around awhile longer.

We have run 500 successful competitions since we opened for business three years ago. I have personally been with the company for half that time; running all the operations for almost as long.

Why should you choose us to partner with you for your event? There are a few reasons.

We are not a big company with a huge support team you’ll only have email access to. It isn’t our policy to hit you with an FAQ and ask you to figure it out on your own. I will personally partner with you every step of the way. Not a fan of asking questions via email? No problem. You can call, text, What’s App, Facebook message, Skype or Snapchat me anytime. You can even try your luck with carrier pigeon, if that is your preferred method. Leading up to your event we guarantee a 24-hour response turnaround time, and on event weekend, that guarantee is an hour (if that).

We have a robust platform that is highly customizable. If there is something you want your event to be able to do, there is a good chance we can accommodate it. But we are also constantly taking suggestions on how to improve the product, so if you want something we don’t currently offer, we may be able to bake it in. In the grand scheme, we haven’t been around very long, but we are battle-tested and have tons of flexibility. You can relax in knowing that your score system is going to work exactly the way you need it to when it counts. We’ll even travel to run your scoring onsite if you want the added peace of mind.

Another one of our advantages is that we are fully owned and operated by competitive crossfitters, coaches and event logistics planners who also happen to be software gurus. We don’t just know technology – we know CrossFit, and we know events. We’ve been there on every side of the table, so we anticipate what you will need for your competition before you do. And if you need a protein sponsor, a videographer recommendation, an emcee or an apparel company; let us help make the connection for you. We also have relationships with vendors in all different sectors of the competition business.

You care about your people, and your registration and scoring vendor should too. We have a heart for the community and will help with charity events to the best of our ability. At the very least, we will always decrease our rate for charity events.

And finally, our reputation in the community is unparalleled. Throwdowns.com has run 500 successful events all over the world – and our community of highly satisfied repeat customers will agree: we are the best out there. We care just as much about your event being seamless as you do, and we take pride in not just having a beautiful product that your athletes, vendors and scorekeepers will enjoy using – but in having the strongest and most accessible team behind the scenes to help you succeed.

My name is Kate, and I’m co-owner and Director of Operations for Throwdowns.com. You can reach me directly to set up your next event at kate@throwdowns.com or (419)-279-9974.

Watching the Games? You need to see this.

The Games are finally here, and we can’t wait to watch the action in Madison, WI.

We get it. You also want to watch the Games. But you don’t want to be a slug the whole weekend.

We’ve taken the guesswork out of the equation for you and crafted this one-of-a-kind workout for your Games-viewing shenanigans. Grab some friends and your recovery beverage of choice and get to watching!

  1. Announcer mentions Annie Thorisdottir’s smile – 10 v-ups
  2. A rookie is highlighted for more than 30 seconds – Run/Row 400m
  3. Camera pans to athlete in ice-bath or makeshift ice-bath (i.e. forearms in cooler) – 5 tricep pushups
  4. Camille Leblanc-Bazinet says “Dave” (can be either Dave) – 15 sumo-stance squats (with a kettlebell if you have one handy)
  5. CrossFit Mayhem doesn’t win an event but is still interviewed – 5 inchworms
  6. Dave Castro is awkward (open to interpretation) – 30 second plank hold
  7. Emotional commercial makes you think you might cry – 10 backward-stepping lunges (total)
  8. Josh Bridges yells – 15 jumping squats
  9. Male competitor wears leggings – 100 double unders / 200 single unders
  10. Mention of Mat Fraser’s cardiovascular condition (current or former) – 20 mountain climbers
  11. Noah Ohlsen has perfect hair post-wod (aka every wod) – 30 second handstand hold
  12. “Rich Froning” mentioned during Individual events – 5 burpees
  13. Sara Sigmundsdottir eats or talks about eating (to be clear, she is our spirit animal and we love her) – 20 situps and/or go get a snack
  14. You hear the word “varied”  – 10 forward-stepping lunges (total)

What did we miss? Tag us in your Games Workout videos on Instagram to let us know how you fare.

Should Your Event Have an Online Qualifier? (Five Things to Consider)

Should My Event Have a Qualifier?

This is a question we wish more people would ask. Qualifiers can add huge amounts of value to your event… but if you aren’t able to give them the attention they deserve, they could do more harm than good.

There are a few things to think about if you are on the fence about having a qualifier.

  1. Size of the Event
  2. Administrative capabilities
  3. Level of Athlete
  4. Brand Goals
  5. Internet in Your Area

A qualifier requires as much, if not more, work than an in-person event. Although you don’t have to concern yourself with the onsite logistics, you will have to deal with every athlete concern under the sun – from accurately communicating and enforcing standards, video upload issues, validating submissions and beyond. A qualifier is not for the faint of heart.

Size of the Event

Large competitions are natural contenders for qualifiers, however, having an event with a lot of people does not inherently mean you should have a qualifier. If your venue can accommodate many athletes, you may be better off letting people register from the get-go. Also, if you have a large event but people hold off on registration until the very last minute, you may wish to skip the qualifier.

The last thing you want to do in the weeks before your competition is worry about validating online videos. That said, you can still incorporate a qualifier component into your event without having a full-blown qualifier. Consider having one workout for athletes to submit prior to the final event to decide your heats.

Administrative Capabilities

Some large events are run by a robust team where the duties are distributed. Some large competitions are run by a solo administrator. Neither option is wrong, but if you are running lean, you may not be able to give your qualifier the attention it deserves. Consider this: If you have 300 would-be competitors, three qualifier workouts over the course of three weeks and every competitor has one question per workout, that is 900 questions over the three week time period. Do you really want that many Facebook notifications and emails if you don’t absolutely need them?

There’s also potentially a ton of work involved in reviewing and keeping track of video submissions. Be sure to pick a system that simplifies this as much as possible. We’ve designed our system so that athletes can easily include video links in their score submission, and you can optionally configure whether or not the videos appear publicly on the leaderboards. If they do appear publicly, you’ll have the benefit of other athletes helping to police and maintain standards. If you prefer to keep the videos private, you’ll still have a streamlined way to review and keep track in our easy to use admin interface.

Castle Games preferred to keep video submissions hidden from the public leaderboard for their qualifier event.

Level of Athlete

Qualifier events are not suitable for every type of athlete. If the event you are throwing is popular but not exceptionally competitive, a qualifier may dissuade athletes from signing up because it feels more official. You know the kind of athlete you want to attract to your competition, but keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be an all-or-none decision. A hybrid approach is also possible. For example, you might require a qualifier only for your RX or Elite divisions, but allow registrations into Scaled divisions without a qualifier.

Brand Goals

You have to get honest with yourself for this one. What are your goals? Are you looking to have a successful event once or twice a year, or do you want to build a competition-throwing empire? Maybe you are looking to branch into programming for the masses, or becoming a memorable event franchise. A qualifier may be a natural thing to incorporate into your competitions.

If you are thinking about ways to expand your brand footprint and generate some extra revenue without too much additional overhead here’s an idea for you: host a live event each year, but host an online virtual event at the halfway point through the year to stay in touch with your community of athletes. It’s easy to offer incentives such as free registration or discounted registrations to athletes who place well in the virtual comp.

Internet in Your Area

In some parts of the world, access to video hosting software is less than optimal. If you know that your athletes will have a hard time uploading their workout videos, you may be better off not requiring video submissions or skipping the qualifier component altogether. Ultimately, if it makes your athletes’ lives harder and makes them think less of your event, it is not the right choice for your competition.

You know what your community of athletes will appreciate. If a qualifier is the right choice for you, make sure you have the right scoring and leaderboard platform in place to simplify and reduce as much of the work as possible. The team here at Throwdowns would be honored to support your next qualifier event with our tried and true registration and scoring system. It’s been designed to streamline online qualifiers as much as possible, and we’re committed to your success. Get in touch with us here to get started.