A caffeinated ramble by a passionate cross-fitter and coach – Taylor Wallace
Standards in Sports
In CrossFit, as in ANY OTHER SPORT, missed opportunities occur; they are a part of the game, bound performance to a measurable standard and promote player/athlete accountability.
In baseball, it’s an error; hockey, soccer or basketball it might be a missed goal or a penalty; in track and field it’s a false start or boundary violation; and in CrossFit, it’s the ever-hated “no-rep” call heard from a coach or judge. A no-rep being an under performed movement or repetition; such as failing to hit full depth on a squat, locking out overhead or breaking the vertical or horizontal plane on a gymnastics movement.
In the competitive and sport sense, no-reps aid to further legitimize the fundamental standards of the sport and we should be proud of what they represent whether you’re a competitive athlete or general enthusiast.
- For the competitive or RX athlete, it’s an identified area of opportunity to improve future performance.
- For the enthusiast, it may be an acknowledgement of a safely performed the movement within their abilities – choosing to take the no-rep for a better tomorrow, rather that sacrificing safety today.
A Missed Opportunity
Let’s get one thing straight… in that competitive sense, a no-rep is a failed and uncountable repetition; an ineffective use of energy; and ultimately a missed opportunity in achieving a prescribed goal or level or performance. But this also means that there is an almost guaranteed opportunity for future improvement. All else equal… if you redid that workout or event and got the rep, you’d have a better score. Simple. This is a gift given to you on a sweaty silver platter, take it in for all it’s worth and use it to motivate your next rep and next workout. Maybe the next time that platter will be gold!
That being said, there is a difference between competitive athletes, those attempting to achieve the RX or performance standards and those new to the sport or just interested in having some fun and getting a work out in.
Let’s start with this… If a movement cannot be performed safely and with some degree of proficiency than there is no reamer reason to add load or enforce a standard that may increase a persons risk of injury. Therefore, achieving a movement standard (even full depth squatting) may not be required if it cannot be done safely. That level of standard combined with technique and movement proficiency should first be thought of as a goal, in ones ability to safely and efficiently perform the movement; and secondly to add load to meet an RX or RX+ level.
For many of us, it may simply not possibly to safely perform some or all of the daily movements to such a standard without placing yourselves in a larger risk for injury.
For example, maybe you don’t have the range of motion or movement patterns to be able to hit a full depth air squat without rounding your spine. What then?
In this case, better to work on performing and instil safe technically sound movement patterns than to add load and force a standard depth. “Yes” for most of us in a non-competitive environment or not looking to “RX” a WOD it’s ok not to go full depth on a squat or wall ball. Perform safe, technically sounds repetitions today and you will be rewarded with strength, stability and longevity tomorrow.
However, if you are at or aiming for that RX level or something beyond you have other thing to keep in mind…
A no-rep is a personal learning opportunity – identifying a lack of range of motion, strength or efficiency in a particular movement. Together, these create a laundry list of weaknesses to work on to better improve our movement and general level of fitness and abilities. And as much as you may hate to admit it, your mind and body want to be better. So… which reps do you remember more, the ones you make or the ones you miss? Take that as a sign.
The Competitive Environment
If you are a competitive athlete, not only does all the above apply but also you will actually have your performance judged based on those standards, so why not practice them properly everyday – in training.
Training is training – to best prepare you for competition.
- If you’re crushing times and getting through workouts for the sake of getting through them rather then acknowledging all the no-reps that may have gone uncounted in a competitive environment then you will not be prepared for the competitive environment, both physically in your strength relative to the standards or in your mental strength and mindset that comes when you have a no-rep called – which you will – at an event. One’s ability to overcome the worst while performing at their best separates top qualifiers from top finishers.
- Being a competitor, advanced in strength and movement, you are likely beyond the general level of proficiency and focused more on efficient movement, body control and developing a more virtuous level of performance. There is no better learning tool for an athlete than failure; embrace it and own it. Fail at something every day!
- It is my belief that competitive athletes should not only train in an atmosphere with semi-strict no-rep accountability but also that they should record each the same way as record their completed reps and certainly re-do any of them for the sake of future measurable comparisons and accountability. Know your no-reps like you would your dropped passed, shots missed and penalties – these are your weaknesses, face them head on. Be accountable, be measurable and make every rep count; this is training!
Lastly, with each missed repetition you are held accountable to yourself, your fellow athletes and the legitimacy of the sport at hand. Without standards and boundaries, sports would not be measurable or progress to the level of performance we see around the world. It is in the standards that progress blossoms. Anything that neglects or undermines that agreed upon standard deters the sport, its supporters and the efforts of fellow athletes. Being conscious of your no-reps gives respect to all those past and present that have poured their efforts in the growth and development of the sport and fitness program. Be mindful; be respectful; be proud.
Accountability and Coaches
Whether you are a general enthusiast or a competitive athlete, in the daily training environment the onus is first and foremost on the individual – to acknowledge questionable repetitions; and that means no-repping oneself. Secondly, and aside from being a motivator, the coach also plays a role in identifying, correcting and optimally suggesting additional work or scaling options for the betterment and progress of the individual.
If they see an under performed movement that places an athlete in the risk of injury, they will identify it and we should thank them. It is they who are the gatekeepers and uphold the integrity of the gym or box.
Be proud of your movement, your progress and your time or score for the day. And maybe even… be proud of your no reps.