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For many of us, the CrossFit Open is the first experience receiving or giving a “No Rep”.  Getting a “No Rep” can feel frustrating and discouraging. Giving a “No Rep” can feel intimidating and socially awkward. The good news is they don’t have to be.

Athletes who focus on virtuosity embrace “No Reps” as a tool that leads to them being better athletes. Here’s what it comes down to: Steel sharpens steel and friends don’t let friends do bad reps.

Why don’t friends let friends do bad reps?

  1. Safety- Barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells, even wall balls can cause injury. Bad form and deviations from movement standards, which happen more and more as we get tired, opens the door to injury. A “No Rep” can bring bad form to an athlete’s attention before an injury. Don’t let your friends to get hurt. Wouldn’t you like to keep working out with them?
  2. Health- We’ve all seen videos of accidents, acute injuries. The repeated strains and pulls caused by bad form that result in chronic pain can be just as debilitating as an acute injury. So again, don’t let your friends to get hurt.
  3. Being competitive- In competitions we always want our friends to get good scores. We all know the basic movement standards they’re not news. When the competition judge no reps you because your hips aren’t open at the top of the squat or your knees aren’t locked out on push presses don’t be upset with the judge. Be upset with your friends and coaches who have been letting you get away with it. Practice holding yourself to the highest standards at all times not just “when it matters”. In the heat of competition your body will do what you’ve trained it to do not what you’d like it to do at that moment.
  4. Ego- Reflect inwards, do you want sympathy reps? You can see when a wall ball missed its mark. Will posting a higher score make anyone like you more or make us feel better about our scores? Or would we rather succeed because we met the mark, overcame the challenges presented to us, and did it right. Executing the range of movement standards at all times will make you better athlete, in the middle of a WOD sometimes it helps to have someone else’s eyes and feedback.
  5. Representing the Community- When we travel, when we are out at competitions, when we have visiting Crossfitters, we want all of them to say, “Athletes from P.A.W. move really well!”
  6. Being a Role Model- Someone is watching you. You are in your zone, trying to his a PR, trying to beat your previous time, you probably don’t even realize it. The new member who wants to be stronger, wants to be faster, wants to move like you do. For all the reasons above, you want to be a good example for them to aspire towards.

As a judge here are some thoughts that will make your “No Reps” easier to dish out:

  1. Know the movement standards. Listen to the athlete briefing.
  2. Have your athlete demonstrate movements and Range of Motion. If their elbows don’t fully lock out or the brakes go on naturally when their hips are at parallel with their knees when performing an air squat you’ll know and won’t have to second guess it during the workout. Figure out what is a mobility issue before “3, 2, 1, Go!”
  3. Give them examples of common faults that you will “No Rep”. People are a lot less confused by the “No Rep” when it happens if they’ve been warned specifically.
  4. Put yourself in the best place to see what you need to see.
  5. If you see their movement deteriorating, heading towards a “No Rep”, call out the standard you are noticing.
  6. Whatever the “No Rep” is for, try to give the athlete a quick correction. Tell them exactly what they need to fix.
  7. Communicate clearly. Speak up and use hand signals. Explain those hand signals before the workout starts. In the middle of a workout your athlete’s brain is not at its best. Now is not the time to be verbose.
  8. Never just skip counting a rep instead of calling out “No Rep”. Nothing will upset an athlete more than thinking they are done but they aren’t. Not knowing you’ve been given a “No Rep” … well it sucks, way more than being told at the time. Good athletes will power through and hit their desired sets.
  9. How do you get good at this type of communication and keeping track of everything? You practice by judging your friends when there’s nothing on the line (don’t do this unless they ask).
  10. During a competition: You’re a judge, not a coach, not a cheerleader. Losing track of the count will be far more embarrassing than not offering advice or support. In many instances you won’t have the appropriate background with the athlete to provide wise council. IF the athlete’s progress has ground to a halt and NO ONE else is providing support or advice then perhaps give in to that temptation.

You know you’ve done the job right when after a giving a “No Rep” the athlete, their friends, their teammates, and/or their coach nods their head or says thank you. The best athletes and coaches thank Judges that give good “No Reps”.

The best athletes out there try to do it right each time. When they get a “No Rep” they change whatever they need to change and do it right. Intentionally trying to sneak in bad reps is a good way to waste energy and lose precious seconds.

Some closing thoughts:

I present this from my own experiences as a judge and as an athlete. Yes, I’ve been “No Repped”. Yes, there have been instances where I’ve disagreed with my judge’s call or count. But I’d always rather be held to the highest standards.

Don’t mask cheating movement standards with “being efficient”. You don’t need to be called out by a coach, you the difference. Most of us are training for our own health and wellness, which is not something worth cheating yourself out of for a score on a leaderboard.

– Coach Matt