Scaling is not failing

I want to get serious for a minute and share my thoughts about the CrossFit Games Open and all the social media posts about people being disappointed about scaling the workouts.

But before that, here’s some history:

  • 2015: I started CrossFit during the open, so I scaled all the workouts
  • 2016: I Rx all the workouts, but probably should have scaled at least two. One workout ended in tears
  • 2017: Rx all the workouts, but probably should have scaled one workout
  • 2018: Scaled all the workouts due to injury
  • 2019: I’m taking it one week at a time.

(Fierce Love Coming)
I want to say this thing about the Open and the leaderboard. Only the 20 people in the world get invited to the games. For the rest of us, it’s just another day at the box. It is also a snapshot of where you are on that particular day. Therefore, the worldwide leaderboard MEANS NOTHING. If you don’t have toe to bar or pull-ups or any other movement the day before, you’re not going to have it the next day. If you are injured or haven’t been in the gym, you might need to modify accordingly like Kara Saunders (pregnant) did (#4 on the podium last year) and the Dan Bailey (injury) did and like I did. It is a crime that people have equated scaling with failure. You know that scaling is not failing. You know better than that. If you don’t know that by now, your coaches are failing you. Stop believing the false notion that if you scale, you’re failing in some way. Scaling is smart when you’re technically not ready to do a movement. If you choose to Rx a workout and struggle to get one rep for the sake of ranking higher than scaled athletes, then we have some mindset work to do. Taking that approach could get you hurt. So stop it!

Having said, if you can safely do a workout Rx, that’s great. If you can’t, then scale. I have seen too many people get hurt for the sake of getting a higher place the leaderboard.  But there are a whole gang of people who are in between. Those are the people who are so close to getting their first T2B and first pull-up. They’ve put in the work to get that first rep or to string together that movement. To those folks, I say, go for it and be happy with whatever you get. I am just worried about the people who can barely do a pull-up and who get down on themselves for not getting chest to bar or bar muscle ups. Those people can push all they want, but they aren’t ready and they get down on themselves for not being there yet. That desire to get that higher skill movement should give them some goals to put up on the goal board and to work with a coach to reach them.

Now for the softer advice. If you did 19.2 scaled and did those knees raises correctly, did your singles and hit those squat cleans to standards, you deserve all the fist bumps and high fives coming your way. Stop minimizing what you did. You showed up and worked hard. You should be proud of yourself. I am proud of each of you that showed up and did your thing. No more being disappointed about scaling an open workout. This is my 5th year doing the open and I scaled the workout and I am beyond proud of myself for making the choice that was best for me vs what would get me higher up the leaderboard.

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