No one runs a flawless competition. Accept that fact now, or step away. If you’re prepared for the 3 biggest competition challenges, you can minimize your stress during your planning process and on the big day.
Here’s a few tips for managing the 3 biggest competition challenges…
1. Judging quality
This is, hands down, the hardest thing to manage and also the most important of the biggest competition challenges. It will give you the most grief from your athletes and spectators. We see it all the way up to the CrossFit Games level. When you’re relying on volunteers, as is the case for most competitions, there is only so much you can do to control what happens on game day. We’re human, after all, and people make mistakes, even with the best intentions and preparations.
You can take the following steps to optimize your judging quality for your event:
- Make the event descriptions and rules clear. You can save yourself a lot of trouble from the get-go if you take a solid month on your event programming and run-through practices. Get as many trustworthy and unbiased eyes on your write-ups and videos before they are posted publicly. Think of the worst-case scenarios for misinterpretation (and, yes, cheating) so you preemptively address any concerns, questions, or confusions about the judging standards before they come up.
- Hold a formal judges meeting BEFORE the competition. If you have a large number of out-of-town judges coming to volunteer, this is best done the night before the competition begins. If the majority of your volunteers are nearby, have a judges meeting up to a week before your event, with a refresher the night before the competition. Bonus: requiring all judges to complete the CrossFit Judges Course can help establish credibility for your judging staff.
- Create a “judging and scoring dispute” policy. Include this in your waiver and consent form at registration so athletes must agree to it before participating. Reiterate it on your website and in your event descriptions and/or standards videos. Remind athletes before their heat begins in the event briefing.
2. Registration changes
No matter how early of registration deadline you set or how strict you make your policies, your participants will request changes and other registration accommodations precisely at the moment when your hands are full with other important aspects of the event. As a rule, the more athletes per registration (i.e., teams of 4 as opposed to individual athletes), the more complicated the registration process can be, so keep that in mind when planning what kind of competition you want to run.
Here are some tips to helping you manage last-minute registration changes and keep things running along smoothly leading up to your event:
- Make your policies clear and stick to them in most cases. There will always be people who don’t follow the rules (or, better yet, think the rules don’t apply to them). Keep your cool and remember that it’s not your job to make everyone happy. If you decide to make an exception for someone, make it clear that you appreciate their discretion.
- Have a dedicated person to manage registrations. It’s such a big task to keep dozens (or in some cases, hundreds!) of people’s registration information clear. One advantage to using the Throwdowns.com platform is that registration is seamlessly integrated with your scoring system, which save you a lot of time when you have to update, change, or substitute athlete’s information.
- Order extra t-shirts in various sizes so you can make last-minute exchanges. You can always sell the left-overs if you have more on hand, or give them away as door prizes for spectators (T-shirt gun, anyone?).
3. Sticking to schedule
No one wants a competition to run late. But with so many moving parts, one of the biggest competition challenges is to ensure that doesn’t happen. The most important thing you can do is to give yourself twice as much time as you think you need to get things set-up before the competition even begins. The more time you allot, the better. If all the pieces are in place, it makes it easier to keep your competition running according to schedule.
Use these tips to help your competition stay on time:
- Plan transition time and breaks into your heat schedules. You will need a minimum of 2 minutes between heats to keep things humming along. This can feel tight, but anything longer can feel like things are dragging on. Aim for 3-4 minutes between heats, with longer breaks (10-15 minutes) at least every 2 hours to give your judges and volunteers much-needed rest time.
- Use a master clock and set it to run on an interval timer. Have a dedicated computer or tablet (with it’s own reliable power source!) that. If you have the technological capacity to make this clock visible to the athletes and crowd, even better. Otherwise, don’t bother with running two clocks — the only one that matters is the master clock that your announcer will use to start and stop the heats.
- Have extra volunteers on hand. Often, events get behind schedule because someone important isn’t where they were supposed to be at the time they were supposed to be there. If you secure 3-5 extra volunteers as dedicated “floaters” who can fill in for unexpected gaps, you can prevent delays and hiccups on the schedule.
Preparation is key in planning a successful competition. Plan for these 3 biggest competition challenges ahead of time to run the best competition for your CrossFit community.