If you think there’s a lot of pressure on athletes during a competition, you should ask your judges how they’re feeling.
Judges play a crucial role in upholding the standards of your workouts; without them, there would be no competition. Ironically though, they don’t seem to get as much attention as they deserve from event organizers, which creates a lot of confusion and stress the day-of your competition.
Here are some tips for how to organize and manage a world-class judging team that is de-stressed and focused. We’ll look at:
Table of Contents
Finding Your Judges
Most of the time, your judges will be volunteering their time (even the CrossFit Games and Wodapalooza rely on volunteers to help judge non-Elite divisions). So how do you find people who are freely offering their time to help you create an epic event?
You could put out a “call for volunteers” on Instagram or during your gym classes, as well as invite judges via email.
Pro tip: Make sure to ask your past judges too. They’ll be more willing to re-volunteer and help out again; plus, it’s always nice to have experienced judges return to help lead the way for rookie ones.
To make reaching out to past judges easier, make sure to keep a list of your judges and volunteer at every competition.
Or, you can use a dedicated competition management platform like Strongest Compete, which easily allows you to list the judges from your past competitions.
You can then re-invite them through Strongest’s built-in email invitation system. The system You will monitor which judges have opened your email and accepted your invite. Strongest Compete will even tell you if an email bounced back, so you can be sure you have the correct email address for your judges.
The email you send out will include your personalized message and a registration link so your judge can register.
Registering Your Judges
Make sure it’s easy for your judges to register (and for your team to track their information) with a link to a clear, easy-to-complete registration form.
You’ll want to make sure too that your judges aren’t charged a registration fee. To do this, you could either setup an entirely separate registration form OR you could just define the Judges Registration Fee as $0.00 or “no fee”.
Registration is also a great time to ask for three other pieces of information that will help you plan your event:
- Judging Experience: so you know who is experienced with judging. This helps you place more experienced judges with more experienced divisions, and newer judges with “easier to judge” divisions like Scaled.
- Availability: so you know when your judge is available to judge (e.g. the whole day, morning or afternoon) so that you can schedule accordingly.
- Judging T-shirt Sizes: so you know how many of what size Judge’s Shirts to order.
You can create a custom field on your form for each of these pieces of info. For example, you can create a multiple-choice field in your form called “T-Shirt Size”, and list down the Men’s and Women’s sizes a judge can choose their t-shirt from.
If you’re not quite sure how to add custom fields to your registration form, you can use Strongest’s Custom Registration Fields.
Designating a Head Judge
Designating a Head Judge is one of the first things you should do when organizing your event since they are an integral part of your event team. Head Judges oversee the entire judging team, standards and disputes. They have reviewed the workouts and standards in-depth, and have the knowledge and experience to know what to look for, how to look for it, and how to handle any issues.
Judges worry about a lot of things: being too nice, being too strict, not knowing what exactly to look for or to call out. They might not be sure where to stand or what to do if there’s questions mid-workout. This is why having a Head Judge is so important: the Head Judge is the 360-degree view on the field, watching over all the field judges, athletes and workout, providing guidance when needed and clarity if something’s not right.
Briefing Your Judges
Scheduling a judge’s briefing is critical to judging 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.
Be clear about what your policies are for no-reps and warnings. Make sure your entire team is aligned so that the playing field is fair.
Sometimes different divisions have different standards. For example:
- Scaled Divisions might get one warning with a clear indication that the next time they don’t meet the standard, they will be no-repped.
- RX and Elite Divisions will not get any warning, and will instead be given a no-rep.
Heat Sheets, Lane Assignments and Schedules
Amongst all the judging, counting and movement standards, judges also have to worry about where to be, and when.
Just like you do for your athletes, provide Heat Sheets and Schedules to your judges prior to the event (ideally at the Judge’s Briefing). Not only is this courteous and thoughtful, but it also eliminates confusion and last-minute changes.
In our experience, Judge’s Heat Sheets and Lane Assignments are one of the last things to be generated, oftentimes being distributed the night before or morning of the competition, and often via multiple attachments on email or a group chat . Most of the time, this last-minute distribution is due to the amount of time it takes to manually create and modify heat sheets.
There is a much easier way to do this though, that isn’t time or energy-consuming. With Strongest Compete’s powerful Scheduling Kit, you can:
- Generate and regenerate lane assignments with the click of a button
- 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
Finally, you can make both your judges’ and your scoring team’s job a little easier by providing pre-populated scorecards.
Scorecards should have the athlete’s name, division and judge’s name clearly marked on it before you hand them out to your judge. This provides a double-check that the athlete and judge are paired up correctly, and eliminates any room for error in attributing scores to athletes. It also allows your judge to focus on what they need to focus on: judging
To do this, use some custom address label stickers that you can print the information on. If this sounds like a nightmare to do across all your workouts, athletes, divisions, and judges we don’t blame you – it is. That’s why we automated scoring label generation in Strongest Compete, so that all that info is merged together automatically for you. You can choose to print out on our recommended label size, or download a CSV of the info so you can create your own.
And, finally – make sure to thank your judges for their hard work, diligence and energy. Without them, there would be no sport.