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It’s almost time! Just two more days until the first OPEN workout is announced. Boxes everywhere are frantically buying dumb bells and preparing to curse Castro for the next five weeks. It’s no small feat to execute all the details and participate in the OPEN yourself–so hats off to all the affiliate owners who manage to make it work.

There are things to keep in mind as you safely shepherd athletes through 5 weeks of online worldwide competition. Whether you have 10 athletes signed up or 100, paying attention to details before the whole thing OPENS can leave you less OPEN to potential pitfalls.

All good outcomes begin with a waiver. The next Rich Froning joins your box, signs a waiver and crushes the OPEN. If he doesn’t sign a waiver and crushes his ankle? The box owner is 100% OPEN to liability. Remember to remind your staff, the OPEN often brings drop ins to your box who are traveling on business. Before they are asSIGNed a judge, make sure they SIGN a waiver. While it seems like common sense, when days are long and hours are busy, the simplest things can often be overlooked. While electronic waivers are best as they don’t need storage, be sure to have plenty of paper copies should you encounter a technical issue or a mad rush of athletes.

Don’t want until the night scores need to be validated to register your affiliate. It could be too late. The amount of traffic on the Games site is EPIC. All affiliates need to be registered, a manager needs to be named, and said manager needs to have completed the online judges course (which is not super easy). The affiliate manager will validate each workout that has been performed at the affiliate. Take the time and make the time to get yourself set up right. Some of your athletes have been preparing all year for this, so t’s only fair that you’re prepared too.

Remind your athletes to enter scores. Believe it or not, even elite athletes can forget! And chances are, if someone forgets their score it will be the one your affiliate needs to make it to the next level. It’s best to have all athletes log scores on site before they leave for the night. Better safe than sorry.

Our sport is a judge-free zone. Fitness for all. Everybody plays. But for the 5 weeks during the OPEN, all workouts are done under the watchful eye of a judge who counts reps, ensures standards are upheld and signs off on each workout performed at your affiliate. All judges are not required to take the online judges course, but it’s a good idea if they do.

Nothing upsets an athlete more than getting no repped on a good rep. In turn, if an inexperienced judge who has not taken the course counts reps that are not good, spectators will have your head. If bad reps get recorded and posted on the Internet? There goes your credibility and potentially your ability to validate future Open workouts. Don’t leave yourself OPEN to criticism. Have your judges educated and dedicated.

No one should snatch 75 pounds for reps for the first time in an OPEN workout. (Read that sentence again.) Tunes are going, adrenaline is flowing and it’s going to seem like the best idea ever. So why not go for it? Tearing through one or two ugly snatches is not worth tearing a rotator cuff. When someone puts up one ugly dangerous rep and there’s a crowd of team mates celebrating, they usually find the strength to put up another. The hardest part of being a coach is throwing on the siren to pull over a speeding athlete. Same thing goes for reckless repeats. Unless a trip to Regionals is on the line, there’s no need to do the same taxing workout five times in one week. It’s a recipe for injury.

Performance enhancing substances are a hot topic in the CrossFit world. How do the girls get so jacked bro? They eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. (And lift a shit ton of weight.) To maintain the reputation and integrity of our sport, random drug testing is used. The rules state that testing may occur at any CrossFit-sanctioned event and will take place at Regionals and at the CrossFit Games. All registered athletes are also subject to unannounced testing outside of competition.

It’s important to note, dietary supplements are not well regulated and may cause a positive drug test result, even when labels look safe and compliant. Many dietary supplements are contaminated with unlisted banned substances including stimulants, anabolic agents, beta blockers, street drugs, diuretics, peptide hormones and analogues, anti-estrogens and beta-2 agonists. Testing positive for banned substances could mean suspension from participating in future CrossFit-sanctioned events for life! This could mean terrible things for your affiliate team, not to mention your reputation. Way before the OPEN opens, be sure to have a discussion with all your athletes about this sensitive stuff.

No matter who you are, the OPEN is nerve wracking. More than a good judge and experienced coach, your athletes need your emotional support. Many will feel they are not good enough to participate. Many others will be disappointed if they do not meet their personal goals. And while your box will be full of personal records and triumph, it will also be filled with certainty or doubt. You aren’t liable for not providing moral support, but morally it’s the right thing to do. Be there for your athletes during their life-changing moments and you will have their loyalty for life.

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