How we organised our
Hal 5 Skill Competition 2022
Our 2022 edition of the Hal 5 Skill Competition took place on November 6th 2022 at Hal 5, Leuven, Belgium. It was the second edition after the 2021 one.
During a skill competition, participants try to complete set challenges. Based on how many challenges they are able to complete, they progress to the next rounds, where challenges get progressively harder.
We start with the qualifiers round, then semifinals, and end with the finals.
We choose to organise a yearly skill competition since it best represents our style of training parkour, instead of other formats like style or speed competitions.
On this page, we will talk about all the details and rules of how we organised our skill competition, together with some things we learned from our previous edition, and thoughts on how to further improve them.
The minimum age to join was 15 years old. We set the challenges with this age group in mind. While everyone is free to join, we mentioned that “a good foundation in parkour is required”. The challenges were aimed at medium to advanced practitioners.
The most difficult part is to find enough differentiation in challenges so that at least everyone can complete a few of them, while more advanced athletes are also challenged, even during the qualifiers. We do have another idea for the first round that we will probably try out at next year's edition. More on this at the very end, under General Notes & Feedback.
DETAILED SCHEDULE OF THE COMPETITION
• 12:00 - 12:30 | Doors open, check-in
• 12:30 - 12:45 | Welcome + showing qualifiers challenges
• 12:45 - 15:00 | Qualifiers
12:45 | Warmup group 1 (10 min)
12:55 | Qualifiers group 1 (45 min)
13:40 | Warmup group 2 (10 min)
13:50 | Qualifiers groep 2 (45 min)
14:35 | Counting scores qualifiers
14:55 | Announcing semi-finalists
• 15:00 - 16:00 | Semi-finals
15:00 | Explanation semifinals
15:10 | Warmup semifinals (10 min)
15:20 | Start semifinals (30 min)
15:50 | Counting scores semifinals
• 16:00 - 17:00 | Finals
16:00 | Announcing finalists
16:10 | Start finals (12 min per person)
• 17:20 | Award ceremony
• 17:30 - 20:00 | Training jam
- The challenges were set by a small group of people, who would also be judges at the competition.
- Challenges of round 1 (qualifiers) and round 2 (semi-finals) were filmed to show the participants (and audience) how they should be completed.
- The challenges are explained while projecting videos that show the execution. Participants can ask questions if some parts are unclear.
- The round 1 challenges are explained before the warm-up of group 1, so that group 2 has no advantage during warm-up.
- In the end, the judges decide how their challenges have to be completed, and are expected to be consistent with their judging.
- The challenges are played on loop on a big TV screen during the competition so participants (and audience) can always see them.
- Challenges of the finals were not filmed to keep some mystery, tension and wow factor during the finals. (And some were just damn hard). The finals challenges are explained on the spot to the finalists and audience.
RULES PER ROUND
For all rounds, challenges cannot be tested, every attempt counts.
Participants are allowed to try part of the challenge, but this counts as an attempt.
Round 1: Qualifiers
- 2 groups of max. 25 participants.
- 20 challenges, mostly single moves or small combos.
- 45 minutes per group.
Scoring: Unlimited tries: 1 point is given for each completed challenge. (max. points = 20)
We had a maximum of 50 spots available for the competition. This was to be able to have 2 groups of max. 25 people in the qualifiers, to provide enough space for the athletes and not having to wait too long at the challenges.
Round 2: Semifinals
- 12 to 15 participants (advanced from the qualifiers)
- 8 challenges, more combo based.
- 30 minutes.
Scoring: Attempt based scoring.
Participants earn points according to how many attempts are needed to complete a challenge: 1 attempt (‘one-bang’) = 5 points, 2 attempts = 3 points, 3 attempts = 2 points, more than 3 attempts = 1 point, failed = 0 points. Judges keep count of the number of attempts per participant for their challenge.
Round 3: Finals
- 5 participants (advanced from the semifinals)*
- 5 challenges
- 12 minutes per person (excluding 2 minutes warmup if needed)
Scoring: 3 attempts per challenge.
Finalists have a maximum of 3 attempts per challenge, excluding the ‘one-bang completion’ rule exception.** A ‘one-bang completion’ (= challenge completed on first attempt) gives you a fourth attempt at another challenge of choice.
It is not allowed to prepare/test moves on other obstacles in the gym.
The finalist with the least amount of points from the semifinals had to go first in the finals, working up to the finalist who scored the best in the previous round to go last.***
* We had a tie for 5th and 6th place in the semifinals, so we decided to have six finalists instead of five. The idea was to have a tiebreaker challenge, but since we were running a bit behind on schedule we decided it would be easier - and even faster - if we just decided to have 6 finalists instead of having to explain and execute the tiebreaker challenge.
** Last year, finalists only had 5 attempts for all of the 5 challenges (inspired by Sportparkour’s NAPC Skill in 2019). This would result in way longer preparation times, and less ‘action’ to enjoy for the audience. This year (once again inspired by Sportparkour), there was a lot more action going on during the finals, athletes had multiple attempts on all the challenges
*** We debated whether the person that ended up with the most points was allowed to choose if he would like to go first in the finals or not, but decided that to keep it equal for all finalists we would stick to the order of least points first > most points last. This also makes to most sense ‘spectacle-wise’.
Judging the qualifiers
During the qualifiers, we had 10 judges for 20 challenges. Each judge has 2 challenges to judge, and gives points by writing it down on the list they have for their respective challenges. Participants have to get the attention of the judge and make sure they are watching while trying the challenge, otherwise the attempt does not count.
Judging the semifinals
During the semifinals, there were 8 judges for 8 challenges. The same system applied as during qualifiers.
Judging the finals
During finals, 3 judges hold up their hands at each attempt to show whether the challenge counts as completed (two hands/arms up) or failed (arms in a cross). Having 3 judges helps removing doubt in difficult situations. For example; two judges judge “failed”, one judge judges “completed”, the challenge is judged as “failed”.
In 2021, we made the mistake to not establish this from the beginning clearly enough, for both athletes and audience. This resulted in the audience cheering when they thought a challenge was completed, rather then first looking at the verdict of the judges. This made it very hard for the judges to still disapprove on the completion of a challenge, resulting in it being more of an audience choice.
What is a valid stick?
A lot of challenges end with a ‘stick’ (landing with the ball of your foot on the edge of an obstacle, and staying on.) This means it is really important to define what counts as a good stick, and what doesn’t.
To communicate it clearly to every participant, this is what we described as a good, valid stick:
- Not more than half of the foot can be over the edge of the obstacle.
- Lifting one foot while looking for balance in the stick is not allowed, both feet have to stay on the obstacle the whole time.
The more challenging aspects of judging a stick is slipping on landing, and how far the feet are apart.
We left this aspect a bit more open to the judge, expecting them to judge consistently for all attempts on their challenges.*
* In general we feel these aspects cannot really be quantified.
Meaning that if you slip, but don’t end up with more than half your foot over the edge, the stick should be valid? We could say the same for how far the feet are apart, that it cannot be judged and therefore does not matter. But since it is not allowed to lift a foot while looking for balance, and this is way easier when you land with your feet wider apart, we feel there should be a way to define how far apart your feet can be. (Preferably without each judge having to measure the distance with a ruler…) We won’t expand on this subject any further here, to keep this paragraph at a reasonable length.
PRIZES, SPONSORS & REVENUE
1st place: €150
2nd place: €100
3rd place: €50
(+ Dinner paid for all finalists)
Last year (2021), we decided to not hand out prize money, but give the top 3 finalists a precision trainer, and pay dinner for all finalists. This was to keep it more 'for the fun of it', not involving money since that is one of the least important motivators for us.
This year (2022), in reaction to the controversy of the FIG competitions, where one of the arguments brought up by participating athletes (in FIG comps) is that there are no serious alternatives, we decided to add prize money to show (with a very small step) our willingness to provide a viable alternative for people who do look for opportunities to be a competing athlete.
Also, we do not like the idea of handing out medals at the end of our competition. Maybe a more original & fun trophy is a good alternative.
There were no sponsors this year, and so the prize money was paid with the limited revenue from organising the event.
For the Skill Competition, we end up break-even with the expenses for the day itself and prize money, but The judges that helped us out did so on a voluntary basis, they did not get paid. We did provide them with food and drinks throughout the day.
The Hal 5 gym, the parkour classes and events are all run under Cirkus in Beweging, the circusschool in Leuven. While we did end up break-even with extra expenses and prize money with the revenue from registrations and audience, this does not include the hours put into preparations and organisation of the event. This means Cirkus in Beweging has put money in to make this competition possible. For next years we are looking to find some sponsors and maybe ways to attract even more audience to generate more revenue, so we can at least try to run break-even for the whole organisation of the competition. We would like to avoid driving up entry fees and stay accessible to a large audience.
NUMBERS 2022 EDITION
With a maximum of 50 spots available, we had 44 participants in 2022. (exactly the same amount as in 2021)
- Participation Skill Comp (incl. jam afterwards): €10,00
- Participation Jam Only (incl. spectating): €5,00
- Spectator: €2,00 (-12 years old = free entry)
We do not have numbers on how many audience members joined to watch the competition.
To give participants more value for money, we upped the number of challenges from 16 in 2021 to 20 in 2022. This made it possible to give each group in the qualifiers 45 minutes to move, instead of the 30 minutes in 2021. This was a lot to facilitate (you need 10 judges) and it was quite the challenge to make them work without crossing eachother. (which we didn’t fully succeed in since a few runups came really close together)
Another idea we had was to work with less challenges, but have two levels for each challenge; an easier version, and a harder version. Completing the harder version would earn the participant more points than the easier version. This way we would be able to differentiate even more in difficulty of challenges, both easier and harder, making it even more accessible for every level of participant, while still being able to have some really high-level challenges. We might test this system at the 2023 competition (October 29 2023).
The lack of revenue to make from these competitions is currently also one of the biggest hurdles. Bringing in more sponsors seems essential to make these events more sustainable, without having to drive up entrance fees like crazy.
In the end, for us the most important part of organising a skill competition is to give practitioners a challenge and a good time. With both editions of our competitions, the vibes and community feeling were amazing, and we had nothing but positive feedback!
November 25th, 2022
Written by Geert Meeusen
Photos by Lukas Wolfs (2022 & 2021)