Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Snitting is the act of quitting or abandoning a workout or race because it is difficult, or because it does not go as planned. In World Cup level Whitewater Slalom, "snitting" is the lowest form of competitive behavior. But, snitting can be observed in nearly every sport.

When an athlete snits, it speaks volumes about that person's stability under pressure, their developed level of self-efficacy, and their potential capacities as an athlete.
Great athletes never snit. Remember when Bodi Miller lost a ski mid course and finished the race skiing down on one ski? Not a snitter. In the olympics this year, there was a top female American marathon runner that was clearly cramping and having the worst day of her life. She literally walked parts of the course until she could run again. She had many chances to abandon, but she finished--and poorly. Not a snit.

It is rare in a Crossfit workout to actually see someone snit. We have witnessed it a few times in the last three years and when it happens, especially viewed within the context of the global suffering going on around the snitter, it is shocking.

More often though, we witness athletes snitting reps or rounds. Not Snitting is a conscious decision to stay in the pain cave. It is fortitude to finish in last place, but to finish. Honest counting mistakes do occur, but Snitting due to discomfort is a deliberate thumb in the eye of self achievement and very, very low.

We are all going to have bad training days that are based on no sleep, being thrashed from the week's workouts, or bad nutrition. How we deal with the collapse of our performance is probably the most important thing we train for. The larger life metaphor for what snitting behavior represents doesn't even have to be made here.

So don't snit, and (MODIFIED FROM POST DISCUSSION) when you percieve that one of your fellow athletes is close to a snit attack, realize that right then they need you most. Lean over, and tell them to hang on. They'd do the same for you. (Thanks Danny and Ross)

Clearly from the tiger look in his eye, JD above, doesn't even realize that snitting is an option. Neither should you.

Coach kstar


Anonymous said...

Snitting should not even be in the vocab of an SFCFer. I would rather take all day to finish than skip reps, and rounds. I cherish the hog sweat that builds as I struggle through, or crush a WOD. If I catch anyone snitting I am just going to snap. Please someone let me catch you, please!!!! Just one time!!!!!! One time!!!!!!PLEASE!!!!!!!!


Person said...

Interesting. When I read the exhortation to call out would-be snitters, I thought, "Why? That's between them and their demons." Am I missing something? Is the idea that snitting disrupts group morale, and so we have a collective responsibility to keep it in check? My inner libertarian bristles at that. Or is the idea that we approach a potential snitter simply as a well-meaning friend, saying, "Look, friend, I think you're about to make a decision you'll regret. Keep going; I know you'll be glad you did." That I'm down with.

Anonymous said...

Clearly snitting is of a very personal nature. You are absolutely right in that the tone of admonishment should be that of ally, confidant.

Snitting as it pertains to a situation that should be called out, is when a potential athlete "snits" and tries to represent his or her shortend/chopped/snitted effort as a first order/best effort.

One should strive to keep one's sniting to one's self.

But, one of the very reasons we find group/team training so rewarding is the element of culpabiblity, responsibility, and belonging to the group. I know personally that I feel enormous pressure to "finish" when I see the near heroic outputs of my training partners.

Collective experience should stand as sufficent disincentive to ever snit. And when the snit is upon you, because it at somepoint will be, you will look over and someone will say, "Rock on Ross, you are inspiring me with your suffering prowess".

And you will say: Thanks for the snit antidote.


Anonymous said...

One unsung benefit of our collective suffering is the trust that it engenders. When one is going balls to the wall with someone else all that is irrelevant melts away. We are left with the purity of the activity and that is sometimes best quantified via suffering.

By participating in the group workout you engender trust but also open yourself up for admonishment or praise from your peers.

The communal nature of group work is what makes this such a unique environment and activity.

I guess if you are not into that then you don your tank top and zoobas, head to Gold's Gym and crank out some behind the back wrist curls.


DannyNoonan said...

I agree with Ross. There's a fine line between "snitting" and scaling. And, as long as the athlete isn't presenting the modified version as their best, RXed effort or making a habit of it, I'd be inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Sometimes people have injuries or have to miss a week or two of working out for some reason beyond thier control. If their first workout back is RXed as 5 rounds of hell, I see nothing wrong with them scaling it to 4 rounds of hell.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. On a daily basis, we cut rounds/reps/weights for our returning athletes/injured athletes and those that are training for another sport.

There is newish trend across crossfits where programming is beginning to reflect the more is better attitude. We hear about workouts that include 5 heros in one day for example, or double Fran.

As often as possible we try to establish what the work of the athlete is going to be PRIOR to starting the workout. We do sometimes get it wrong. Last night I cut our piece from 15 to 12 minutes as I thought the right stimulus was being achieved. Is that snitting? No. Do people often bite off more than they can chew? Yes, and they should tell their coach that it's too much weight/volume/length so that they can decide together what and appropriate sub is.

I think you are confusing snitting and scaling. Snitting occurs when lactic acid is high. A scaling decision should not be influenced by: being beaten, really sucking, immense suffering, ego. And, as many times as possible, scaling should occur, whenever possible, prior to the workout starting.

We fully advocate for smart effort. We prefer consistency over volume.

But leaving the door a little open for "scaling" when it is not appropriate means that when confronted with new tasks and unfamiliar challenges, the appropriate (read: safe, uninjured, rested, current)can shed effort.

Adrian just told me about a wod he did at a cert that included heinous rope climbs and big tire flips. He mentioned how he got schooled as was unfamiliar with that volume of high rope climbing.
Should he have scaled? No. If he was fighting the flu? Yes, and before he started.

Beginners may not have much context or depth of experience to decide what they can and can't do for themselves. True. Again, they should work along side their coach (coach should see it before the athlete does) to work out the right volume before OR after the clock starts.

But trained,seasoned athletes should try to agree on a set amount of work or task prior to the start of the clock, even if it is scaled. Do they get it wrong sometimes? Of course.

But, seeing that most of us are human, our natural tendency is to want to modify work volumes down when we start suffering.

I have a new born in the house and have been finishing behind some of my monster coaches during wods. As I'm sitting there, they look over and pull me out of excuse land. (we have an excuse board, having children is up there, Steven has 5 and still brings it!)

Scaling is appropriate, not finishing is snitting.

And, once in a while we have athletes that cut reps to stay fast. Also snitting.


DannyNoonan said...

I almost entirely agree with you. I agree that "snitting" is NOT the same thing as "scaling." But from the perspective of calling out other people, I think that at times it's hard for most of us to tell the difference.

You say that athletes should agree with their coaches on a set amount of work before the clock starts, but you also acknowledge that sometimes we get it wrong. Even the best coach doesn't know exactly what's going on with his athlete's body. Sometimes the athlete doesn't even know about his or her own body.

A few weeks ago we were doing a WOD from the main site that was 5 rounds of 15 Deadlifts, 12 power cleans, 9 OH Squats and 6 Push-jerks, all with a 135lb bar. I had been traveling for work like crazy the previous month or so(and not anywhere close to a welcoming CF Community like San Fran) so my workouts had been rare and severly limited. This was a workout I knew I could handle as prescribed, as did my coach. I knew I had lost a step though, but didn't know the extent of it. I attacked it with a "let's see how it goes" mentality. I only finished 4 rounds. I didn't quit because of the flu or anything like that. It's just that on that day, I wasn't strong enough to do the 5th round of power cleans. In hindsight, it was a miscalculation in the beginning--I should have cut it to 4 rounds at the beginning, or reduced the weight. But to anyone watching, it cut a round. Is that snitting? Should I have been called out on it?

DannyNoonan said...

That should reqad: "But to anyone watching, I cut a round. Is that snitting?"

Anonymous said...

First, did it feel like a snit?
No. Was your 4 round legit? Yes.
Was it clear to everyone around you, coach too, that workout stimulus was maintained? Yes.

No snit.

Did you start to shave reps in the middle? No. Did you post your effort as complete? No.

Did you "skip" round three and move to round four to stay with the pack? no.

I don't mean to sound agressive here, but were you blown out after 4? did you reach the 20-25 min mark with horrible failure of back/trunk? Is it possible that your slightly defensive stance suggests that you have some internal dissonance about 4/5 rounds? Sounds to me like you and your coach made the perfect call.
Were you able to train hard the next day? Brilliant decision!

Snitting is a bit like defining Zen I think. You know it when you see it. Making smart decisions is very different than cutting yourself a deal mid beat down.

Maybe it's splitting hairs.
Maybe the post should read, "when you suspect someone is about to snit, it is at that time they need you most. Tell them to hang on."


DannyNoonan said...

"Maybe the post should read, 'when you suspect someone is about to snit, it is at that time they need you most. Tell them to hang on.'"

That's a better way to put it.

Anonymous said...

Post has been modified.


Anonymous said...

This is just getting ridiculous!

When someone is doing Rx'd weight and cuts reps so that they can march over to the board and post the "fastest" time or "best" effort of the day, that is a SNIT! Claiming to have completely the said work but, shaved reps to appear more badass than they really are.

It is clearly different from scaling.

It's like doing Fran at Rx'd weight and really only doing 17/13/8 and claiming to have some awesome Fran time.

It's dishonest and a slap in the face of the atheletes who are busting their asses doing their workouts whether scaled or not.

Anonymous said...

I appreciated Boz's comment a few weeks back on how an athlete may take a rest during a round. I now keep hearing his voice (post) in my head when I walk away from the bar hitting only 7 reps when I needed to get 10. I come back for the final three but a broken set.

For me it's 90 percent mental, I'd often go into the round knowing I can hit 21 or 15 or 9 reps and do it all. Othertimes I'll tell myself--just get five and break. That's my snit--agreeing before I start at what number I'll quit at. It's a bad habit and one I'd like to break. I'd rather hit the round with what I've got and break it when that rep really is NOT going to go up/down/in/out/etc.

One personal rule now is that when I break a set, I will not walk away from the bar--it so conveniently adds rest time. I'll stay there and count to three or five and get going again.


Person said...

Nonny, I guess one's views on this are a function of one's disposition, which is probably why there are a number of different views on the matter.

I can't agree that snitting is "a slap in the face of the atheletes who are busting their asses doing their workouts whether scaled or not," b/c that implies that other people's (possibly lax) efforts have some kind of bearing on the meaning of my (hard, I like to think) efforts. In my view, they don't. I see no such relation. As long as I went along the edge of that straight razor, crawling and surviving. That's the thing. There is no other thing.

In fact, I put some value on the existence of snitting, b/c it reminds me that I am the master of my exertions, which is to say that they are not necessary but arbitrary, and so, to my mind, more beautiful.

Obviously, had I been alive in the 19th century, I'd have moved to the Swiss Alps, or gotten arrested in some scandal involving Oscar Wilde, or joined a monastery, or all three.

Unknown said...

WOW! all this controversy over a photo of me i love it.

snitting... there is little controversy. those of us who do it know who we are and those of us who thrive on a little self induced masochism know who we are as well. nuff said

dizzle dizze dizzla ... jd

Unknown said...

Every athlete should snit. Every athlete needs to know what it feels like. It is unforgettable.


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