Why to Build a Team of Certified Judges

The CrossFit Open is upon us. In our blog series on The Open we’ve covered how to get folks to sign-up, how to plan for The Open, and even introduced a SugarWOD App feature to support affiliate efforts.

Now I’m going to talk about something that on the surface seems boring and of which affiliates are not required to do. I’m going to talk about why I believe affiliates should build a team of Certified Judges such that a certified judge judges every athlete who competes in The Open.

Who Must Take the Judges Course?

The CrossFit Games website instructs that:

Anyone who intends to manage an affiliate, judge an aspiring regional athlete, or review Open video submissions must take and pass the 2017 CrossFit Judges Course. It's also required for Masters Qualifier, Regional, and Games judges. Source.

What this means is that the CrossFit Judges Course is not required for individuals who judge other athletes at an affiliate if those athletes are not on a regional trajectory.

I believe that it's an excellent practice for affiliates to make it standard that anyone who judges an athlete who is competing in The Open - independent of the athlete’s capacity, ability, or potential placing - to have taken and passed the online judges course.

I believe that it's an excellent practice for affiliates to make it standard that anyone who judges an athlete who is competing in The Open - independent of the athlete’s capacity, ability, or potential placing - to have taken and passed the online judges course. Here’s why.

Builds a Strong Affiliate

The judge's course strengthens the bond of your community to some of the founding principles of CrossFit. As affiliates, we strive to impart to our athletes that proper range of motion matters. That moving well will drive the best long-term development. And that the integrity and quality of your movement matter just as much as your time. We teach this to our athletes in group classes. We communicate it through cues, repetition, scaling, and coaching. But athletes can learn in other ways, and off the gym floor. When your athletes learn of your commitment to individuals passing the judges course, they get another message that you are committed to the credibility of your operation.

Athletes Learn by Taking the Test

By taking the exam, athletes learn about the movements they do every day in class, but in a new way. Athletes are familiar with being coached and told how to improve their movements in group classes. They’re less familiar with reading content and watching acceptable and unacceptable examples of movement standards. By broadening your athletes’ exposure to the sport that they love and care about, you lay the foundation to build better athletes and a more credible community. By reinforcing the standards through another venue, trust between athlete and coach is strengthened.

Gives a Nod to More Athletes at Your Gym

Sure, we want everyone to do The Open and the fact is that some athletes are just going to be more comfortable doing it than others. By giving people another way to contribute to The Open (by judging), you create a more inclusive environment at your affiliate. Go one step further and require those folks to pass the judges course, and you have made them a validated and credible component of your Open efforts.

Brings Credibility to Your Operation

By having a team of Certified Judges, you bring credibility to The Open that you run at your gym. During The Open, tensions can run high and athletes can get carried away with their performances and times. This is not a bad thing, it’s part of the sport. By having a team of certified judges you quiet the masses with potential objections to “unfair” judging. At the end of the day, affiliates want to run a healthy and fair competition, and this helps them do that.

How to Encourage People to Take the Judges Test

At CrossFit Roots we blog and ask our community to take the judges course. You can see an example of that post here. In this post, we give step by step instructions for what people should do to take the course and then ask them to volunteer to judge at our Friday Night Lights events.

Then, we make it public! Ask folks who have passed the test to email their certificate to the gym, and then hang it prominently at your gym.

You’ll have a great team of judges in no time and will simultaneously improve the CrossFit education and understanding of your community!

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