One of the most time-consuming parts of hosting and organizing a functional fitness competition is creating your competition schedule. There are a lot of things to consider to get it right – and to make it flexible enough in the event of changes.
We’ve learned a lot from the thousands of competitions we’ve helped manage when it comes to what you should and should not do when it comes to scheduling. Here are the top 5 mistakes we see – and how to avoid them:
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Mistake #1: Using spreadsheets
Creating your competition schedule can be tricky business. Not only do you need to calculate your workout duration, physical space, transitions and equipment changes – but you need to do it for every heat in every workout and every division. That’s a lot of formulas and calculations you need to keep track of if you’re still using spreadsheets.
The smallest difference between what you estimate for time and what actually happens can have big, compounding implications on your schedule. Maybe you estimated a transition time of 3 minutes between heats, but between equipment changes and trying to clear the floor of exhausted athletes, you realize during your event that it’s taking closer to 4. How do you quickly adjust for this and reflect that change to all the other events that follow?
If you’re using a spreadsheet, you’ll need to change your formula, then copy and paste it across all your divisions and workouts. If you’re using something like the Scheduling Kit in the Strongest Competition platform, though, all you need to do is change the transition time, press “OK”, and all your other workouts will be automatically adjusted.
RX Tip: To help competition organizers, we created a free GoogleSheets calculator to help with these calculations. Even better, though: we created the most powerful Event Scheduler available. Check it out now, and start saving time and energy!
Mistake #2: Underestimating workout times
Transitions and equipment change timings are probably the most critical parts to get right if you want to stay on schedule. Workout times are a bit easier to estimate because of time domains and past experience. On the other hand, getting athletes off and on the floor, changing equipment, and making sure your judges are in their right lanes and heat is much harder to do.
It’s all about timing and coordination – and the more you practice and rehearse, the easier it will be. We suggest doing a full dry-run of transitions and equipment changes with your team:
Equipment Team Transitions
- Make your dry run as realistic as possible.
- Use the same equipment and weight as in the workout. Some divisions will use heavier weights, which take longer and more effort to move.
- Load the bars to weights that you’re expecting your athletes to make. The difference between unloading a 70kg bar and a 120kg bar is significant.
- Decide where you’ll move and store your equipment, and rehearse exactly as you plan in the dry run. Don’t just move it off to the side; move everything from point A to point B as you would on the day of your event.
- Plan for longer equipment changes between the end of one workout and the beginning of a new one.
Athlete and Judge Transitions
- Designate the workout floor flow – where do athletes come in, where do they go out?
- Look at having athletes line up in order (commonly referred to as “in the chute”) before the event starts so they’re already lined up in their lane assignments.
- Plan to have your judges on the floor, ready and on standby.
Mistake #3: Not giving your scoring team enough time and space to enter scores or update the leaderboards
There is high potential for scoring errors and inaccurate results when you use a spreadsheet.
Nothing good comes out of scoring errors. Wrong scores and placements cast doubt, erodes trust, and decrease morale.
Unfortunately, too many event organizers still choose to manually input their scores into a spreadsheet. This leaves way too much room for errors like:
- Mixing up athletes, heats and divisions
- Overwriting of correct scores due to multiple access to the spreadsheet
- Inaccurate placement calculations
- No verification of scores
- Having to re-publish on a separate leaderboard sheet
When you use a fitness competition scoring software like Strongest, only your Scoring Team can input scores and edit the scoreboard. They’ll also be able to:
- Populate the scoring sheet based on registration data
- Enter scores based on heats schedules
- See scores that have been modified in one glance
- Preview the scoreboard before publishing
Best Practices for Entering Scores
Here are some general best practices to follow when it comes to scoring entry:
Limit the number of people who have access to your scoring system
To minimize scoring entry errors, limit who has access to your scoring system. Designate specific members of your team to be the scorekeepers. They will be the ones whose sole responsibility is to input, verify and then publish the scores.
Have a verification process in place
Make sure to have a system in place that checks the initial score entry, and then verifies it again. You might want to ask that any scores that change after initial entry be highlighted and re-verified, just in case.
Your scoring team should be able to focus on just scoring. Taking time away from that to try and decipher scorecard information creates room for scoring entry error – and the potential for delays and backlogs. Make sure that your scorecard clearly states the athlete’s name, their division and their heat, along with the judge’s name.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to use pre-made labels for each lane assignment that you can stick onto scorecards. Strongest Compete can generate these labels automatically from your heat and lane assignments:
Mistake #4: Not briefing judges and athletes
Holding briefings are critical to success during your competition.
We strongly recommend that you don’t leave this briefing until the day-of your event; there’s simply too much noise, excitement and distractions to hold a useful briefing that day. Instead, have your Head Judge organize and run a briefing the day before so you can go over:
- General competition schedule
- Movement standards
- No-Rep Policies (see below)
- Heat Sheets/Schedule (see below)
In-person briefings are best so your demo team can go through exact movements. If judges aren’t able to make the in-person, make sure to have (and record) a Zoom link option, as well as movement standard videos for your judges to review on their own time.
Athlete briefings give your athletes the information they need to confidently and successfully complete their workouts. Holding an athlete briefing shows them that you care about their performance, questions and concerns. Plus, it ensures your movement and workout standards are met.
- General competition schedule
- Workout demos
- Movement standards
- No-Rep Policies (see below)
- Scoring Policies
In-person briefings are best. However, you can always have a Zoom link option so athletes can join from anywhere.
Mistake #5: Not having a central point of communication
Spreadsheets are an extremely inefficient way to share accurate, real-time information with different groups of people.
Athletes, spectators and your event operations team all need specific, relevant, accurate information in a timely manner. Each audience needs different information that is meaningful to them. More importantly, you need to be sure the information is correct.
Having ONE single source of data to house all your complex event information is key to accuracy. Having options to distribute it from that one source with tailored views for different audiences is key to organization.
To set this up in a spreadsheet, you’ll need multiple sheets, complex formatting and advanced calculations – and then you’ll need to figure out how to communicate and publish it easily.
Competition management software like Strongest can streamline all of this for you, then help you distribute your most up-to-date information to all audiences in just a few clicks. With Strongest Compete’s powerful Scheduling Kit, you can:
- Automate heat sheet creation and distribution in a PDF
- Create a real-time online version of the schedule that your judge can easily access through the competition URL
In Conclusion: What to Look for: Competition Scheduling
When it comes to scheduling, make sure your competition management platform can do the following:
- Easy entry and updating of the workout duration, transition time, and lane availability
- Automatic time calculation (i.e. you shouldn’t need any math, formulas or calculators!)
- Automatic inclusion of non-workout event time slots
- Automatic calculation of time slots based on registration numbers and heat parameters
- Easy re-generation of time blocks when changes happen
- Automated heat sheet and lane assignment generation based on your time blocks
- The ability to manage and communicate changes in your schedule quickly, easily – and in real-time