CrossFit Games

Are Major Penalties Making Athletes More Conscious of Their Reps?

April 2, 2019 by
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This year, CrossFit HQ has been doling out harsher penalties and requesting more video verification from top athletes looking to qualify for the CrossFit Games. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given the raised stake for the Open in comparison to previous years.

  • CrossFit Games General Manager Justin Bergh: “We’re reviewing video from more athletes, and further down the leaderboard than in previous years. It’s more time consuming but necessary. This is what top athletes should expect going forward.”

In talking about 19.4 with Tommy Marquez on Talking Elite Fitness, which Mathew Fraser nearly won, he brought up a concern about barbell cycle speed and showing quality reps especially at the top of the snatch:

  • Fraser: “For a workout like that…I’m pushing the pace so much where there’s literally zero pacing. You’re going as fast as possible the entire time. Where it’s a workout like that I’m like ‘I wish it was a little bit longer where there was a tiny bit of pacing’ just so I’m 100% confident in my movement standards. If I’m snatching 95 pounds like my life depends on it as quickly as possible I’m concerned that my movement standards are staying legit…I would love that at the top of every lift I could pause, so there is a distinct moment at the top of the lift. You’re going so fast that you’re getting to that point where you’re towing the line.”

Fraser is well known for producing consistent, quality reps and no where in the interview did he say that the penalties being assessed this year had consciously affected how he was approaching his reps, but his awareness of speed v. rep standards raised an interesting question: are these penalties making athletes more conscious of showing perfect reps when they know their videos will be reviewed and serious penalties assessed?

So we asked a couple of top performers from the 2019 Open:

  • Jason Carroll, who finished in 12th worldwide: “Absolutely! For my specific situation (floating around in the top 20 for the duration of the open) it was very important because I had to submit my video every week for every workout. I even made sure my judge would communicate with me to eliminate grey areas in movements. Just with having the ‘Games’ on the line you kind of assumed as an athlete that they would be a lot tougher on standards this year which would lead to better movement patterns and standards in these workouts.”
  • Tim Paulson, 32nd worldwide and just outside of a qualifying position: “I video tape every workout that I do year round to make sure that I’m constantly not only moving well, but meeting movement standards. So for me, the Open is just like any other workout. I watch my tape 3-4 times, and have my coach watch it too, to make sure that we are 100% good to go so that video review isn’t something we have to stress about. Mat is right on a workout like that, though, where you can easily go ‘too fast’ and end up skirting the line with movement standards. I will constantly ‘practice’ riding the line throughout the year so I know just how fast I can cycle/move without blurring into the side of no reps. Better to try to go too fast in training, watch the video, and be like ‘oh, well, that was obviously too fast’ than try and do it during the Open and end up screwing myself.”
  • Kari Pearce, 9th worldwide: “I actually didn’t even think about that. Feel like it’s the way I normally do it. My coach makes sure that’s what they look like in training so it’s the same in competition/the Open. I get what Mat is saying though. I like that they are getting on people though.”
  • Travis Mayer, 16th worldwide: “Honestly, I try to execute each workout with the right standard regardless of the Open or day to day training. What you do everyday in the gym will be exposed at any competition. So the fact that HQ is watching the videos that close to make sure the best are ending up in Madison just shows if you are putting up a top score make sure it’s legit.”

The bottom line: Veteran Games athletes are well known for practicing the standard every time they train and are less likely to be assessed a major penalty, which is probably why the athletes who received the largest penalties were not Games veterans.

A look back at penalties assessed from 19.1 – 19.4. Final results for 19.5 are still pending.

  • 19.1: Lazar Dukic was docked 61 reps for “lack of depth” on his wall balls. The penalty sent Dukic from tied for first worldwide to 1269th. If all else had stayed the same, he would have ended in 52nd place. However, he still qualified as Serbia’s national champion pending final review.
  • 19.1: Olivia Leeper’s score was re-adjusted to 327 reps from 371 after the video she submitted showed only 327 reps. She fell from first to 89th.
  • 19.1: Mikaela Norman was docked four reps for missing the target on a wall ball.
  • 19.2: Rich Froning received a 3 second penalty per missed double-under. He completed 47 double-unders in round one and 49 in round three. A total of four double-unders were missed which amounted to a 12 second penalty.
  • 19.2: Brooke Haas received a 51 second penalty for missed double-unders after only completing 47 double-unders each round.
  • 19.3: Jean-Simon Roy-Lemaire was penalized 20 seconds when his feet came off the wall prior to lockout on the handstand push-ups.
  • 19.3: Jacob Heppner was assessed a 13 second penalty during the handstand walk due to his foot touching before his hand crossed the line.
  • 19.4: Anna Fragkou was assessed a 21 rep penalty for dropping the bar early or failing to lockout overhead on the snatch. That moved her from a top time of 8:32 to a score of 131 reps, 853rd place worldwide.

Important to note: In each case, these penalties have been assessed after the submission deadline, underscoring how important it is to be 100% certain your reps are good. Athletes have zero opportunity to redo one of those workouts after the submission.

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