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How to Organize a Kettlebell Competition

October 29, 2003 03:19 PM

The first Virginia Kettlebell competition was held on May 3, 2003. It was nothing short of a miracle that the competition was so successful. Although I'm fortunate to be able to now call Garm Olafson a friend, prior to this meet we had met only once, were basically strangers and communicated only by e-mail. We in turn, communicated with the participants via the Internet -a recipe for disaster, if there ever was one.

On the upside, Garm is familiar with running meets through his involvement with powerlifting. He is also a very dynamic and recognizable force on the forum. Aside from my modest organizational abilities, we couldn't have done it without the full cooperation of the participants and the presence of Pavel. This combination made for a great meet and a great day.

If you would like to hold a meet, I wish you all the best. Here is a minimum list of what you will need to make that happen.

Planning Phase Requirements
  1. An extremely patient organizer and one or two other equally even-tempered individuals who are willing to see this through.
  2. A date and a time.
  3. A facility.
  4. Rules - Thanks to Rob Lawrence who wrote the first draft.
  5. A downloadable waiver
  6. A downloadable registration form.
  7. A P.O. Box to receive numbers 5 and 6
  8. Competitors.
Day of the Meet Requirements
  1. The patient organizer mentioned above to run the show.
  2. Kettlebells and chalk.
  3. Referees.
  4. A plan.
Items #1 through 6 were taken care of admirably by Garm. Two small notes about item 6 are required: We do believe that in the future, we will get the forms out to the innocent public just a bit earlier than we did in 2003. Bottom line: When a date is set, the forms should be ready to go out. I would make one change on the form itself. In addition to knowing the competitor's actual name, an additional space should be available for the forum name. It can be made optional for the more secretive folks on the forum. My experience was that people would tell me on the forum if they planned on attending the meet and then I'd receive forms with entirely different names and so consequently I was never sure of the final count. It became very confusing and to this day I still don't know who Go Dog Go is although I'm certain he was there!

Item #7 was easy enough.

Now for item #8. We started the planning of this event in July 2002. At that time, 35 very enthusiastic people said they were interested. It grew to about 50 willing forum members. By the time March 2003 rolled around, I had commitments for 4, including Garm and myself. This sad state of affairs pretty much changed everything. We went from Plan A -which was going to be an indoor event complete with trophies and press -to Plan B: to forget it entirely. We ultimately went with Plan C: a meet to be held outdoors for no fee and no frills. The 19 individuals who participated were wonderful. They came from every corner of the US, by any means possible, to make this event a success.

Item #10 - the kettlebells: We were grateful to Steve Halpin for supplying most of them, although to be on the safe side we all hauled quite a few ourselves. If you are planning a meet, I would advise you to ensure that someone will bring 40s, because they are in short supply. Jason Brown was kind enough to drag them in for us.

Item #11 - the refs: Preferably a RKC and someone not competing. I'm so grateful to Christine Uberti who did my job and gave me the opportunity to compete and recover without worry.
Referees should be well trained and have a thorough understanding of proper lifting form as well as all procedures and competition rules. The head coach should make sure that all novice personnel judge and score all lifts correctly. This includes:
  1. knowing how to use a rep counter
  2. knowing when a lift counts and when it doesn't
  3. writing the scores down on the scoring sheet
  4. knowing how to juggle a clipboard, use the counter and be able to write down the number of snatches with the first arm, reset the counter and start counting the snatches when the athlete changes arms
It is essential that all referees have sufficient practice so that the scores they produce correlate closely with those produced by experienced and reliable refs as well as with each other. The refs should be trained to explain and judge the lifts as consistently as possible.
A checklist of techniques and necessary materials should be available for reference if questions arise during the competition.
Scoring forms should be developed before the competition and should have space for name, weight, score and comments. This allows competition time to be used more efficiently and reduces the incidence of recording errors.
A well-organized competition in which the athletes are aware of proper form and competition rules tends to promote a more focused and professional mindset.
Competition planning must address whether Flights will compete in parallel or in series and whether the same referee will be judging and scoring all athletes. The latter is preferable if time and schedules permit, because it eliminates the issue of "inter-referee reliability".

OK onto #12 - the plan: It is essential to have a Rules meeting. Garm set the record straight as to what would and would not be acceptable. He then divided the group into 2 flights as follows:

Flight A: 8 people using 32 and 40kg

Flight B: 11 people using 12, 16 and 24kg

The meet went very quickly this way, but there was still a 45-minute wait between the C&J and the snatch events. (The rules require a minimum wait of 30 minutes and a maximum of 1 hour.)

I was a bit disappointed not to be able to see Flight A, (I was in B) and I'm sure people in B would have liked to watch Flight A. The only way to solve this, as I see it, is to have the two groups go back to back instead of side by side. People running competitions will experiment with this I'm sure, and perhaps come up with a few more ideas.

How to Be a Participant in a Kettlebell Competition.

When an event is announced, a date is set, and the forms are printed up, please make your intentions known. If you do not send in the form right away, just e-mail the person in charge and tell them that you are coming. Or, email them and tell them that you are not coming. Just E-MAIL THEM!

Our biggest problem was not knowing how many participants we could expect. As you now know, a lot hinges on this. Preparing for a competition takes quite an effort and we Can't READ YOUR MINDS!!!!!!! So, please be considerate and send those forms in as early as possible.

In conclusion, being able to participate in this event as an organizer and a competitor was such an education and so very enjoyable. I look forward to a meet where I show up and compete and have nothing else to worry about except training. I'm pleased to be able to work with Garm again on the Nationals, which we anticipate to take place early next year. By then I'm sure we'll have all the planning and organization down to a science. I'm counting on all of you who are planning to hold KB competitions to share your experiences with us. I'd be happy to help any and all of you to assist in making your meets run as efficiently as possible. Aside some minor first time frustrations, planning and participating in the Virginia KB Competition was an excellent experience.