Why people almost always under-perform in The Open and how to fix it

I want to start by saying this blog is something I have wanted to write for a long time.

I’m glad I have been able to finally organise my thoughts.

I hope you get something positive out of this.
Something you can go away and implement immediately. I hope you enjoy your CrossFit Open experience more after reading this.

The CrossFit Open. The start of the CrossFit Games season.
A sport dedicated to finding the ‘fittest on earth’.

This will be my 6th year in the sport… what year will it be for you?

This year at my gym we have over 100 athletes/clients participating.
In a very unique scenario you can all match yourselves against the fittest people in the entire world.

For you this may be a complete disaster.

Because of its youth CrossFit attracts athletes of all calibers.
Ex-professional athletes, globo gym meatheads and first time exercisers.

No other sport in the world stacks professional athletes directly against complete novice athletes.

They share the same arena, do exactly the same workouts and share a leaderboard.

CrossFit HQ (the marketing genius) does a great way of chalking this up to be something special and exciting…
I mostly disagree.

All I have seen this do is leave many people bitter and distracted from why they are really competing in CrossFit.

The worldwide  leaderboard negatively influences ‘why’ people start and continue to do CrossFit.

For athletes at the gym it goes from “lose 10kg to be healthier for my kids” to “top 100 in my region”.

I’m sure this has happened to you or someone you know.

But why?

And how do we know if it is a good or a bad thing?

We are competitive by nature.

Whether you identify as a ‘competitor’ or not it is an inescapable property built into your DNA.

An evolutionary trait designed to keep us alive.

Our environment since we were born has always rewarded the best performers. Gold stars, special mentions and more love/approval from others for being better.

You get the idea…

But why is this showing up now in The Open?
For a lot of people their competitive side has been sleeping.
Starting a career, joining the workforce and creating a family has left a sleeping beast dormant for many years until now.

You’ve got this awakened beast and The Open is your new stomping ground.


So how can we set up the right expectations.
How can we balance reality and ambition…?


Knowing how to do this will have us not only enjoying The Open more but feeling fulfilled at the end of a long 5 weeks.

As The Open rolls in daily priorities begin to shift.

What once was a casual friday night training session leading into a relaxing weekend with friends has now become a 4-day obsession with stalking games.crossfit.com/leaderboard.

You cuss every competitor, watch every workout tips video and lose sleep over the possibility you may not hit the ‘top X’ you have become so blindlessly attached too.

You begin to value your place on The Open Leaderboard more than anything.

I am not here to judge you and tell you there is something wrong with you.

I just know if you’re like 99% of people doing it you cannot rationalise why you have set this goal.
But you will achieve it at all costs.

I just want it to be worth it for you.


You want to be top 500… 30… 1000 in your region?



Did you consider…

  • CrossFit HQ have built a subjective judging system. Do you trust the integrity of every judge and affiliate owner in the world?

  • Performing at 101% of your true capacity each week is nearly impossible (capacity is separate to effort).

  • Other people are just better than you in these 5 workouts. In another 5 workouts you might be better

  • The rules can change at any time. What you trained for all year may not even show up

  • You could get sick in week 3 and bomb out


What is the one thing all the above has in common?

They are out of your control.

This alone should be enough to detach from your result. There are so many things which change the number on the board and you can’t do anything about it.

It seems silly to think you would judge the success of a whole years training on just one single number.

Would being 499 in your region really be worth…

Not having a drink at your mates wedding...
Skipping the movie because it ends at 10pm...
Or not watching your kids sport because you’re training…?


You might answer yes.
Yes because when you see the number you will have proved to yourself you can accomplish what you thought was impossible.
You left what was less important for a goal which has left you fulfilled.
You know it was worth it because this is what training is for you.
It is not to be enjoyed.
It is about suffering and sacrifice to do well in your sport no matter what.


You will die for points.


Or no.
Maybe you expected people to take notice of your ranking. You thought people might respect you more, take your more seriously or finally follow you on instagram.

Maybe reaching your goal has left you feeling empty.
And just maybe it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

Your career, relationship and social life has taken a hit.

Yeah you’re top 500 in your region but now you realise there is way more to life than The Open. You’re not even going to compete again for another 12 months.

Do you really want to go through all the grinding again?


Perhaps you need to reevaluate your approach to training.

Realign with why you are doing it and take some time off.


So what are the reasons you should do The Open…


  • To tackle fear. Because without fear there is no courage. For The Open you will need courage. And being courageous is an amazing feeling.

  • To max out. Nothing can be more painful yet more rewarding than going well beyond your pain threshold. To dig further than you ever have and see what you are really made of.

  • To have fun. No I mean it. To actually have an awesome time crushing a workout with everyone at your gym. To finish and not talk about the score but instead the hilarious moments of agony and laugh about them… try it.

  • To be inspired. Look around at your amazing community and let it soak in. You are all doing what you never thought possible pushing yourselves through crazy workouts. Getting your first pull up, jumping over boxes and going DEEP into the hurt locker. It’s pretty cool stuff.


And remember it’s just exercise.