Regardless of where you are in the planning cycle for your next event, it’s never too early to be thinking about your schedule. In fact, although it may seem a bit counterintuitive at first, one approach to planning your competition is to map out the ideal schedule and work backwards. If you were building a house, think of yourself as the architect and the schedule as the blueprint from which all else follows.
The benefits of a well-designed schedule are many. A well-designed schedule helps you as the organizer, but it greatly benefits the athletes and spectators as well. Athletes can plan in advance when they know what time their heat begins for each workout. Whether they have family coming to watch and need to give them an exact time, or they simply need to know exactly when to begin to warm up for their heat, accurate timing for the day is a difference maker for everyone involved. Every athlete and judge must know where to be at any given time.
Tip 1: Optimize time
A common mistake among competition planners is a lack of consideration for transition time. This often results in delays that pile up on the day of competition, which can severely affect the overall plan for the day.
For a workout with a 10-minute time cap and 6 heats, it will longer than 60 minutes to get through the entire workout for each division. How much longer? Well, that all depends on your transition times. You’ll need to account for a transition in between heats for each division (typically, a 2-3 minute delay), as well as across different heats (typically, at least 5-10 minutes depending on how much effort it takes to re-stage the workout areas if loads or equipment is changing.)
While it may seem obvious, time caps are a necessity because they guarantee certainty for your schedule.. Some workouts, such as Cindy, already have a set time domain. However, for workouts that are “for time,” there should always be a time cap to keep the competition running on schedule. (Our scoring system is flexible and offers a variety of intuitive ways to provide fair scoring for athletes who didn’t complete workouts within the time caps.)
Tip 2: Optimize space
Maximize all available space. Always.
Although you have the usual common areas such as the space around the rig that usually have a well-defined purpose. Get creative with your use of back alleys, side parking lots, the side of a hill up the street, and any other space that you can legally use (or commandeer!) for the day.
Time and space tend to be inextricably linked, so be sure to think about the net effect of time caps on workouts and how that affects your available space throughout the day. In general, the closer you can keep the time domains for workouts, the simpler your scheduling will be, and the more flexibility you’ll have with your available space.
For example, if one workout is Karen (150 wall balls for time) and it is scheduled for the rig, the 1RM snatch can take place simultaneously on the floor – both with a 12 minute cap. This allows for smooth transitions among both workouts. If there is an announcer, he/she can call for the next heat in both workouts at the same time.
Tip 3: Show your judges some love
If you have 200 athletes completing 4 workouts, that’s a total of 200 x 4 = 800 total lane assignments, right?
No! Actually, it’s a total of 1,600 lane assignments, because you must also have a judge assigned to each active lane at all times. The lane assignments for your judges should be every bit as precise, well-defined, and clearly communicated as the lane assignments for your athletes.
Pro Tip: Setup a break area for your judges and account for the overhead of providing them with meals and refreshments throughout the day. An easy way to cover this additional overhead is by picking up an additional sponsor, and when you think about the hard work these people are doing for you and your competition, it’s practically a moral imperative…
Efficiency, Accuracy, Effectiveness: Pick Three…
An efficient schedule maximizes what you can do throughout the day with your available time, space, equipment, and staff.
An accurate schedule is free of common planning errors and is the key to managing expectations for all of your participants and spectators.
An effective schedule maximizes the creative potential, revenue, and overall enjoyment of your event.
Can you really have all three?
Well, here’s what we know for sure: 1) building a solid schedule is a challenging problem, 2) writing spreadsheet formulas that involves complex date-time arithmetic is not the best use of your time, and 3) we have built the world’s best scheduling kit for functional fitness competitions. It’s fully-integrated with the rest of our product suite, and you can try it out right now!
Regardless of your specific scheduling goals, we’re here to help you throughout the entire competition planning cycle.
P.S. Here are a few other posts that cover some of the features in our scheduling kit…
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