What to do Between Now and the Start of The Open

So you’re going to run The Open at your affiliate, and you’re getting folks to sign-up, now it’s time for the back office to start planning!

In the third installment of our blog series Why and How to Run the CrossFit Open at Your Gym, I’ll outline the four areas that need planning and management, including planning a Friday Night Lights weekly event!

1. Drive Sign-ups for The Open

In our last blog post, we described strategies to get people to sign-up. You’ll want to make sure one coach or staff member is in charge of staying on sign-ups, posting Open testimonials to the blog, and reminding coaches to talk it up during group classes.

Task: Assign one coach or staff member to drive sign-ups and keep the coaching staff on task in this area. Have the person track sign-ups and report to you each Monday on the number signed up.

2. Solidify the Flow of Work for Score Collection and Validation

You'll want to create a predictable process for score collection and validation such that athletes know what to expect, and what is expected of them. There should be a designated location to collect score sheets, the score submission deadline should be communicated in multiple ways, and athletes should know what day and time your affiliate will go through and validate scores. This ensures that scorecards are not lost and that athletes do not ask incessantly on Monday at 7pm why their score has not yet been validated! Remember, an affiliate manager has 48 hours following the close of an Open workout to validate scores, normally by Wednesday at 5pm Pacific Time.

  • Designate who will be your Affiliate Manager.

Each gym has a designated Affiliate Manager via the CrossFit Games site. Here's a brief overview of the role of Affiliate Manager from the CrossFit Games Competition Rulebook (which I highly recommend reading): "In order to validate scores, affiliate managers must pass the online Judges Course each year, commit to upholding the standards and ethics of the CrossFit Games and assert they have the equipment, facility and judges to administer the workouts." Score validation is a tedious process and requires an individual who is thorough and committed to confirming correct scores. Choose this person wisely. 

  • Make a Score Collection Box to collect weekly scorecards.

Each week, there should be a manila folder or box, where athletes drop their score sheets for collection. This is the sheet that the Affiliate Manager will use to check scores and validate that what was submitted matches what was reported on paper. I highly suggest that you put a sign that says “take a photo of your score sheet” on or next to the score collection box, as athletes will OFTEN forget their score or Cut Time for reporting purposes. This will cut down on the number of emails your affiliate receives from members asking for their Cut Time on their scoresheet. 

  • Decide on the time that your affiliate will validate scores.

Talk to your affiliate manager and have them block off a consistent weekly time when they will validate scores. Then, when athletes ask when their score will be validated, you have an answer. Having an exact time helps ease athlete anxiety and drive the professionalism and organization of the operation.

Task: Assign an Affiliate Manager, make a score collection box, and decide when scores will be validated.

3. Determine if you will allow Open Make-ups, When, and How.

Many gyms seem to struggle in this area. You want folks to participate in The Open but also don't’ want to be an on-call judge for every athlete who can’t make it in on Fridays.

I suggest offering two options for athletes who will miss Friday.

One option is to come to The Open workout make-up class. This class needs to be scheduled and advertised in advance and present throughout the five weeks. As an example, you could have an Open workout make-up class on Mondays at 11:30am. Anyone who missed Friday, or wants to do the workout again (craziness!) can come to this class, run by the Affiliate Manager, and log the workout.

A second option is to allow athletes to use your gym's Open Shop times to do a video submission (ie on their own). The Open allows for video submission where an athlete can follow the video guidelines, complete the workout, and upload online. At CrossFit Roots, we use this option for Open Shop for a few reasons. First, it cuts down on the number of folks who want to redo the workout. Knowing they have to record and upload the video on their own makes it that fewer folks will actually go this route - most will do the workout once or come to the scheduled Open make-up class instead. Second, our Affiliate Manager is not always on-site during Open Shop times. It is my belief that it would not be acceptable for us to allow an athlete to judge another athlete without the Affiliate Manager viewing the effort.

Task: Decide on the policy for Open make-ups, specifically if you will offer a make-up class and what time it will be. Be sure to include this information in your Open communication with members as this will help some members decide to sign-up, knowing they can get in the workout on Monday.

4. Plan a Friday Night Lights

Many gyms choose to run a Friday Night Lights Open event for each week. It’s a great way to pull people out of their normal class hour, up the level of excitement and energy, and let members cheer on their fellow athletes. Friday Light Nights takes on a similar format at all affiliates in that it occurs in the evening hours on Friday and relies on a heat schedule, rather than a class schedule, to run the workout. There is often food, prizes, or sponsors as part of each event. 

The benefit of planning the Friday Night Lights series is that it’s sort of like running groundhog day, once you’ve planned one, it’s pretty much the same routine for the following four weeks. Here’s what needs planning:

  1. Coordinate with your staff.

They need to be at Friday Night Lights, not just to support the effort of their athletes, but to make the event run smoothly! Encourage your entire staff to be there for all five Fridays. For full-time staff, it should be part of their job. Figure out the minimum number of staff you need for each event, and make sure you have enough people available. I recommend that you pay your coaches for this time.

Task: Solidify The Open work schedule for your staff.

  1. Assign a Warm-up Coach for every week.

We started this a few years back at CrossFit Roots and it was wildly successful. After we received feedback that athletes felt a little lost in the busy mix of Friday Night Lights, we assigned one coach to hang in the warm-up area for the entire evening. They help athletes warm-up, decide whether to do the RX or Scaled version of the workout that week and are a sounding board for athlete questions.

Task: Email your staff and have them take 1 of the 5 Fridays to be the designated Warm-up Coach.

  1. Gather sponsors.

Sponsors and prizes go a long way in making Friday Night Lights an event to attend. Our sponsors give us swag to raffle off and in return, we highlight them on blog posts and social media. You can see an example here.

Task: Send an email to local and national sponsors asking if they would like to donate a prize for your Friday Night Lights events.

  1. Organize food for each Friday night event.

I’m a big believer that if you want to make it a party, you have to have food! Reach out to local restaurants and coordinate a few meal options for pre-order. Athletes can then place their food order during the week for delivery during the event.

You could also do a potluck with a theme each week or Happy Hour and have athletes bring an appetizer to share. This year at Roots, we’re going to attempt to get a food truck or two to come to a few of the weeks to cut down on the legwork of pre-orders.

Task: Assign a coach or staff member to coordinate a plan for food at the events.

  1. Make a Scorecard Collection Box.

Those scorecards are important! And they need a designated and safe home. We recommend that you have an envelope or box where athletes deposit their score sheets after they complete the workout. We also recommend that you have a sign next to the box that says, “did you take a photo of your scoresheet!?” This will come in handy when an athlete remembers their score, but not their Cut Time, and thus can’t log their score.

Task: Make a scorecard collection box. 

  1. Start building your team of volunteer judges.

It is my opinion that anyone who is judging an athlete at an affiliate, independent of the athlete’s ability or potential to progress to the next round of competition, should have passed the Certified Judges test. I could go on and on why I think this is important for an affiliate, independent of The Open, and I will, in the next blog post of this series!

Task: Start encouraging athletes to take the judges test! You can post a blog post like this one here.

  1. Assign the Thursday night tasks.

When the workout comes out, you’ll want to spend some time thinking about how to run it the following day. How long with the workout take, how much warm-up is needed in classes (you’ll have to run two heats of the workout so folks can judge each other), and you’ll need to schedule heats for sign-up in an online client management system or on paper.

At Roots, we find that enabling heat sign-ups in MBO makes Friday Night Lights run very smoothly as athletes already know what heat they are signed up for before arriving.

The Thursday night task list is as follows:

  1. Watch the LIVE announcement and learn the workout.
  2. Decide on the length of heats (to include the workout and time to change over and start next heat)
  3. Schedule heats in MBO or print paper sign-ups for Friday night.
  4. Print out scorecards so they are ready for Friday.
  5. Set the floor for the following day, including any measuring or floor taping that needs to be done.
  1. Put together a Weekly Guide blog post outline to keep everyone in the know.

A weekly blog post on the food options, sponsors, and warm-up coach keeps everyone in the know and drives excitement. You can see an example here.

Task: Assign one coach to write the Weekly Guide to post at the beginning of each week. 

  1. Consider hiring a designated event photographer.

There are many incredible moments to capture during The Open. Consider finding a few volunteer photographers or offering a trade to one member to capture the entire five weeks. People like seeing themselves in The Open and you'll enjoy having the photos for the following year as you build excitment for sign-ups in 2019!

Task: Publish a blog post or flyer asking for volunteer photographers for The Open.

Now that you have a list to work from, get to it! Start assigning tasks to the back office to make the Open experience at your gym one to remember!

Questions? Post to comments! We'd love to hear from you.

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Mason
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Mason

Love this! Thank you!!

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