Types of Competitions for CrossFit Athletes

Types of Competitions for CrossFit Athletes


There are multiple types of competitions for CrossFit athletes. It may be tempting to want to “do it all” and include a little something for everyone, but we encourage you to consider otherwise. Creating a more specialized event gives you the opportunity to focus on quality over quantity. It makes your event more memorable and stand out from the sea of other competitions.

You’ll need to answer these questions to help you decide how you want to design your competition: who, how, and why? First, how many people are competing together? Next, what skill levels (and age categories) do you want to include? Finally, what’s the main focus of your event?


From a logistical point of view, you can have following the types of competitions for different athlete groups:

  • Individual competition: Athletes go head-to-head with each other. This is perhaps the easiest type of set-up to manage from an organization point of view. However, it is not as profitable as having more athletes compete in the same number of spots.
  • Partner competition: Teams of 2 athletes is one way to get more people involved in competing that takes the pressure off of each person and can allow them to have more fun.
    • Same sex: It’s easier from a programming and equipment point of view to have same sex partner teams. It also addresses the gender disparity inherent to competitive athletics.
    • Co-ed: While a little more difficult to manage operationally, coed teams give the opportunity for opposite sex couples, family members, and friends to compete together, which can be a crowd-pleaser.
  • Team competition: Here’s where you can get really creative! There are lots of possibilities for teammate combinations. Just remember, the more people who compete under the same team, the greater the likelihood of last-minute registration changes.


Skill levels, also commonly referred to as “divisions”, can also be a factor when designing your event:

  • Firebreather/Beastmode: This is the smallest division, but also the one with the most complexity. These athletes are more inclined towards higher level competition, but there are two kinds of semi-elite athletes. There are the ones who will compete at every given opportunity, and then there are the ones who instead are very selective about the events they sign up for. 
  • Rx: This is your bread and butter for most competitions. These athletes are looking to see how they stack up against others and/or are seriously looking to win. This is where most of your creative energy should go. Design a worthy competition that will leave these athletes feeling tested, satisfied, and eager to come back again.
  • Scaled: There are a greater number of athletes looking to have fun. We encourage you to think of a scaled division like a 5K race. The majority of people who run are either looking to set a goal and meet it by finishing, or who want to do improve on their past performance. As such, the emphasis should not be on being competitive with the rest of the field.

Competitions also can include separate categories for different age groups. It’s easy to get carried away with youth and masters groups. We suggest either having very broad categories if you wish to include these athletes in a general competition. Alternatively, you can plan youth-only or masters-only events, which can allow you to have more narrowly defined age groups.


Finally, before you get too caught up in the details of “who” and “how”, consider “why”. Decide on one thing you want to focus on for your competition. This will help you to create not just an event, but a brand. This brand can stand alone, or it can help boost the existing brand of your box. What do you want your competition to stand for? How do you want your event to fit within your CrossFit community? Why will your athletes remember your competition? Answering these questions will give you clarity and focus that can take your event to the next level.

Top 5 Best Practices for Competition Planning

Top 5 Best Practices for Competition Planning

You’ve been there: a local CrossFit affiliate’s first competition. Complete with late and confusing heat schedules, glaring judging inconsistencies, and general logistical chaos. You never want to have to endure such a nightmare again. You know that this is not the way competitions should be run. You know you could do better. Congratulations — you’ve got the competition planning bug. And if you’re reading this, you’re way ahead of the game when it comes to hosting your own event. Get started on the right foot with these best practices for producing a professional competition that will leave your athletes happy.

Here are a few best practices for planning your competition…

1. Schedule a considerate date.

People are busy. Check with other local CrossFit affiliates to make sure that any competitions they might have in the wing will not conflict with your event’s planned date. This includes not only functional fitness competitions, but things like weightlifting or powerlifting meets, Strongman competitions. Also ask about CrossFit Level 1 or specialty seminars, charity fundraisers, and in-house challenges. Think regionally and nationally, also — many of your athletes will want to plan their annual “season” around the CrossFit Open and possibly Regionals and the Games, also. Your competition planning has to fit within the bigger picture.

2. Plan ahead. Way ahead.

You need to give yourself, at minimum, 3 months to plan a high-quality event. We advise 6 months lead-time. The more time you give yourself to prepare, the better chances you have at securing a date that won’t conflict with other events (see number 1). Getting the word out early allows your athletes to prioritize your competition and be able to train properly for it. Of course, planning ahead also gives you the advantage spending more time on the small details that make a big difference. One of the most important factors of taking your competition planning to the next level is sponsors. They need as much time as possible to prepare for donating prizes, being a vendor, or supporting your competition in other ways. Many companies receive a high number of requests for sponsorship. Give yourself an edge by contacting sponsors with as much advanced notice as possible.

3. Put safety first.

As the sport of fitness becomes more popular and a greater number of CrossFitters decide to test themselves in competition, we’re seeing a broader demographic of athletes compete. That means athletes who are both older and younger than the middle of the bell curve. As we age, there’s a higher incidence of health risks and an increased chance of those risks becoming serious and, yes, potentially fatal. Younger athletes, on the other hand, may not be old enough to have been diagnosed with medical conditions that could appear for the first time in the middle of your event number 3. We are also seeing an increase in adaptive and other special populations athletes compete. These athletes who require a higher level of medical care than a standard First Aid certification can equip you with. Make it a priority in your competition planning budget to pay for EMS. A mistake here could be life-changing.

4. Think of the spectators. (Bonus: and vendors!)

One of the best aspects of competition is how it brings the CrossFit community together to support and encourage each other. There’s something about the roar of the crowd that amps up your adrenaline and gives you the push you need to achieve a competition PR. As an event planner, you want to maximize that effect by designing your competition with the spectators in mind. An example: the CrossFit Games has evolved beautifully over the years. They’ve smartly designed the WODs to progress down the field of competition so it’s easy to see who’s ahead. Your spectators should be your first priority when picking a venue and programming your events during the competition planning process.

Bonus: Vendors want in on the action, too! They want to be where the crowd is focusing their attention. This means very close to the competition field or arena, or alternatively, next to the athlete village. The more exposure you give your vendors, the more likely they will be to support your even in the future, which makes for a better experience for everyone involved.

5. Set your competition apart.

What is going to make your competition memorable? It’s a mistake here to think this must mean “unique,” although it certainly can. CrossFitters like novelty, that’s for certain — being the first of any particular type of event is one way to spark interest. But we challenge you to think beyond that. If you truly want to take your competition to the next level, spend a lot of energy on this aspect. You want more than a competition; you want a brand. The most successful brands stand for something. They represent a concept, they imprint their audience with a lasting impression. You can reverse-engineer here. Decide what it is that you want your athletes to think of when your competition is mentioned, then work backwards to design a competition around that experience.

Best in Class Registration for Everyone

Our mission at Throwdowns.com is to equip community leaders and coaches at CrossFit affiliates with powerful tools to save time, increase impact, and build reputation. Our comprehensive registration and scoring system carefully considers the needs of everyone involved and provides a seamless and well-integrated solution. Whether it’s the event staff (organizers, judges, volunteers, sponsors), the athletes, or the spectators, we’ve got them covered.

Event organizers can get up and running with our turn-key registration system in minutes to create a professional landing page that communicates a clear call to action for athletes to register and submit payment, resulting in funds being available for organizers as early as one week from when registration commences. Although the default registration template is adequate for most needs, it can trivially be customized to capture custom data fields, additional donations and gratuities supporting a charity component, or even the sale of limited quantities of pre-paid merchandise such as t-shirts, meals at the event venue, etc.

Here’s a view of a sample registration form featuring some of these bells and whistles from Heroes for Haiti, an online virtual competition supporting children in Haiti that we’re proud to sponsor again this year. This registration form is functional, elegant, and works just as well on a phone as it does a desktop computer.


Sample registration form with opt-in for purchase of additional “merchandise” at checkout. (Click to view full size image in a new browser window.)

The estimated burden to signup for a competition with our registration system is 90 seconds or less, and we’ve carefully designed it to work on a variety of mobile devices so that event participants will register early and help spread the word. It can even be used for special no-fee staff positions (judges, volunteers, etc.), for collecting funds from sponsors, or even for registering spectators if there is limited crowd capacity available due to fire codes or other constraints.

Using one best in class registration system for everyone maximizes the amount of time saved so that it can be spent on more valuable efforts that will inevitably increase the impact of the event and build valuable brand equity for your box.

For more information on our best of class all-in-one registration and scoring system, request a free trial.

Got Tactical Strength?

In the CrossFit community, our coaches continually reinforce the importance of functional fitness. Whether you’ve heard the concept expressed as “high intensity functional movement”, “being ready for the unknown and unknowable”, “shirking decrepitude”, or some other variation of the phrase, the basic premise is the same: if you perform regular maintenance on your body, you’ll be able to enjoy a fuller and more satisfying life.

Strong First Athletics, an organization and community that seems to be in violent agreement with us CrossFitters about the importance of functional fitness, has chosen an awesome expression for this same concept, and they call it tactical strength. This particular choice of words is powerful, because it appeals to our innate desire to be strong, especially in demanding (tactical) situations. The desire to be able to perform under duress is rooted deeply in the human psyche and has a tremendous impact on our confidence levels in all aspects of life. After all, who doesn’t want to be strong?

If you’re interested in putting your tactical strength (or functional fitness) to the test with Strong First, the “worldwide brotherhood and sisterhood of iron”, you can learn more and sign up for the next Tactical Strength Challenge that’s taking place somewhere near you on October 31.

We’re glad to be part of the team that’s helping to make it happen this year and looking forward to the test ourselves!