5 Tips For First Time CrossFit Open Participants

February 7, 2019

Ben Smith

Ahead of the 2019 CrossFit Open, Ben Smith is bringing his coaching to the community at large. Here are his five tips for those who will be participating in the Open for the first time this year.

The first CrossFit Games Open took place in 2011. At that point, I had already been doing CrossFit for a few years. I had already made it as my workout of choice and was performing multiple CrossFit workouts every day. I was confident in my CrossFit abilities. But I remember when the Open was first announced, I was nervous. Even with the confidence I was gaining from my time in the gym, the Open was something new to me. Like with most new things in life, the Open can be viewed from a perspective of fear or of excitement. I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew my mindset and how I approached this would matter significantly. 

This year will be my ninth year participating in the Open. I have not missed an Open since that first one in 2011. The workouts are different each time but I’ve become experienced with the format and learned how to better approach Open workouts. 

As a gym owner, though, every year means new members at my gym taking part in their first Open—people who don’t yet have this experience and are unsure with what’s about to happen. It always reminds me of those nerves I felt my first year. It definitely can feel daunting. But, it doesn’t have to be perceived that way. The experience you’re about to have will far outweigh the nerves and hesitation you’re feeling right now.

If this will be your first year #InTheOpen, this is my advice to you!


Every year, people make the same excuses about why they can’t sign up for the Open. Most of the time these excuses have to do with the fact they don’t think they’re ready or they don’t know how to do certain movements yet. The first thing I tell my members who say this is that the Open workout is going to be the class workout on Friday so if they want to come to the gym on a Friday, they’re going to do the Open workout whether they’ve signed up or not. The next thing I remind them is that the workouts are scalable. CrossFit is infinitely scalable, so of course the Open workouts can be scaled to accommodate all abilities. There’s even a scaled division and scaled leaderboard now.

As a coach, I think the hardest thing to teach people is how to feel ok with scaling a workout—be it an Open workout or a regular class workout. We all have a little bit of an ego in us but the only way you’ll ever get good at CrossFit is if you check that ego and allow yourself to start from the bottom. Build a good base and take the time to learn good technique because then you’ll be setting yourself up to make consistent progress. Scaling is not a negative thing in any way. There’s maturity that comes with knowing when it’s smart of you to scale. You are showing that you want to get better and are willing to take the steps necessary to get there. There’s no shame in that so don’t make it your excuse for not participating.

Continue Reading.