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Unread 01-11-2018, 10:02 PM
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So you want to get picked for eliminations (how to be "pickable").

Hi Everyone. I was inspired by another thread where a team was asking what couple of things they should focus on their robot being able to do well to fit in an eliminations alliance, and I think there is another discussion to be had. Namely, what things can a team do to make themselves more "pickable," relating to both robot features and other attributes. I'd especially love to hear input from teams that are often in a picking position, teams that get picked often, or teams that made a deliberate change that impacted the amount of times they get picked. I hope this discussion will be useful for lower-resource teams or teams that are newer to FRC, but it will also hopefully help other teams as well.

I have some thoughts on the matter myself, most of which are not original, and they break down into two categories: Robot Attributes and Team Attributes. The things I have in mind generally don't require investing additional physical resources (ie. you don't need a laser cutter/CNC/machine shop and more money to do these things).

Robot Attributes:
1) Autonomous Mode: Do it. At the very least, your robot needs to be able to drive forward during autonomous. If you can't do this, you will be letting your partners down, which I'll speak more on later. Further, you should program at least a few different auton routines. For example, maybe you can just drive forward. Maybe it's better for your partner if you can start behind the switch and cross the auto line by taking a curved path. Maybe your partner has a routine that would be better off if you waited 5 (or 10) seconds before moving forward. Even this basic task can be done lots of ways, and none of them require more robot parts! You can even develop them after your robot is in the bag. More autonomous routines make for more options for your partners, and if you can better accommodate their strengths, you can succeed better in quals, seed higher, get noticed, etc.

2) Bumpers: This is so easy and so often overlooked. Your bumpers need to do a few things. First, they can't fall off. If they fall off and your robot gets e-stopped, that's an easy way to be dead for a match and land on a do-not-pick list. Second, the numbers need to be readable from far away so scouts can actually tell that it is YOU that is doing that awesome thing. Third, they need to be clean. Sloppy bumpers are one of the easiest ways to make a robot look ugly. Having good looking bumpers is impressive to other teams, judges, and fans, and sends a message that your team cares about the quality of their work. Just look around CD and you'll find plenty of examples on what good or bad bumpers look like (Teams 78, 118, 254, and 1986 stand out to me as exceptional, but there are tons of teams with awesome bumpers out there). There is no excuse for bad bumpers.

3) Wiring: Good wiring is cleanly routed. It uses standard colors and gauges. The ends are properly terminated. No wires are loose. Wires are secured to the robot and not just loose. At both ends, each wire is labeled so you don't have to trace them through the robot. There are other things that make this good too. Using lots of zipties and ziptie hold-downs helps. This is something my team (271) has always been proud of (though I personally didn't have much to do with the wiring, some other people do an excellent job). Another standout example for me is 1538. Nest time you're at an event, look around. You will know when you see a robot with beautiful wiring. Good wiring makes a reliable, fixable robot. A reliable robot is a pickable robot.

4) General Aesthetics: You don't need to powder coat your robot to have it be a good looking robot. But, you should take care to make it nice. One thing 271 likes to do is sand all of our aluminum parts after they're done, which gives them a nice, consistent finish (wear gloves though because the dust gets on your hands). Make sure all your cuts are square and deburred, fasteners are evenly spaced and not haphazard, and in general that things don't look "hacked." A key component of scouting is pit scouting, and having a good looking robot means having a memorable robot. WHen a pit scout remembers your robot, you are more likely to, you guessed it, get picked.

Team Attributes:
1) Don't be jerks: When your team, either in the stands or in the pits, appears rude or ungracious, you are going to be less likely to get picked because picking teams want to work with good folks. Most teams are not rude, but it is something to always pay attention to.

2) Be good alliance partners: In quals, give your partners an honest assessment of your capabilities. Make a strategy that everyone agrees on. Then execute that strategy, don't just go do your own thing. Chances are you'll be partnered at some point with teams that will be alliance captains, so showing them that you are easy and good to work with makes you more pickable.

3) Develop relationships: Build friendships with other teams, not just over the course of a single event but over multiple years. Part of what makes FRC great are the people in it. By getting to know people outside of your own team, you will both learn and get better. You will also build trust. Teams are probably more likely to pick teams that they trust, because they know that, even if their robot isn't quite as good as some other robot, maybe they know that the drive coach is really capable, or their team is reliable, or they have very few breakdowns, or they just have a good culture, etc. This isn't just something that elite teams do, it something that lots of teams do, and you can too. It is not coincidence that there are, at both the district/regional and CMP level, teams that frequently play together in elims.

That's most of my initial thoughts, but I'd love to hear from everyone else too! So, my question to you is: What can teams do, on the field and off, at varying levels of play and resources, to increase their chances of getting picked and playing in eliminations? This can be a lot of different things, and if you disagree with something I said, please tell me! I'd love to hear why you think differently.
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Unread 01-11-2018, 10:08 PM
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Re: So you want to get picked for eliminations (how to be "pickable").

Your point #1 no need to move in auto in elims. In fact a high functioning team would probably prefer you stay out of their way.
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Unread 01-11-2018, 10:10 PM
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Re: So you want to get picked for eliminations (how to be "pickable").

Quote:
Originally Posted by IndySam View Post
Your point #1 no need to move in auto in elims. In fact a high functioning team would probably prefer you stay out of their way.
110% agree.
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Unread 01-11-2018, 10:19 PM
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Re: So you want to get picked for eliminations (how to be "pickable").

Quote:
Originally Posted by IndySam View Post
Your point #1 no need to move in auto in elims. In fact a high functioning team would probably prefer you stay out of their way.
In a game based heavily on time, 5 seconds worth of points sounds pretty good to have. It's been tossed around to add in a significant (~10 second) delay to a drive forward auto to give your partners time to do their thing.
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Unread 01-11-2018, 10:50 PM
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Re: So you want to get picked for eliminations (how to be "pickable").

Quote:
Originally Posted by IndySam View Post
Your point #1 no need to move in auto in elims. In fact a high functioning team would probably prefer you stay out of their way.
Quote:
Originally Posted by V_Chip View Post
110% agree.
Still better to have the capability than not. Regardless, a well-put-together elims alliance wouldn't have a robot sitting idle in auto while the alliance captain takes care of what they can.
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Unread 01-11-2018, 11:36 PM
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Re: So you want to get picked for eliminations (how to be "pickable").

Quote:
Originally Posted by NShep98 View Post
In a game based heavily on time, 5 seconds worth of points sounds pretty good to have. It's been tossed around to add in a significant (~10 second) delay to a drive forward auto to give your partners time to do their thing.
Demonstrating the ability to do this would actually put you pretty high on late second pick lists I would think. If teams are down to just who the best defensive bots are left, I want the team that has shown they know enough about autonomous to actually delay a drive command. That might sound trivial to a lot of CD users, but autonomous programming can seem like a foreign language to your really low resource teams.
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Unread 01-12-2018, 01:12 PM
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Re: So you want to get picked for eliminations (how to be "pickable").

As an investment towards being more "pickable" in the future, go visit the teams that are doing well and ask them what their thought process were relating to their game strategy, robot design/manufacturing and programming.

It is also very enlightening to hang around the periphery and listen when the blue-shirted Judges are visiting the pits of a powerhouse team like 118 :-)
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Unread 01-12-2018, 06:13 PM
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Re: So you want to get picked for eliminations (how to be "pickable").

Quote:
Originally Posted by NShep98 View Post
In a game based heavily on time, 5 seconds worth of points sounds pretty good to have. It's been tossed around to add in a significant (~10 second) delay to a drive forward auto to give your partners time to do their thing.
I think being able to drive in auto should definitely be a priority. The possible ranking point will help your robot be place higher when it does come to alliance selections, and the five points can definitely be deemed very valuable by the picking team.
I also think it is a good idea, especially if you are a less experienced team, to pick one thing in the game that you can do exceptionally well. You don't want to overshoot your capabilities and have five semi-functional mechanisms, it may be better to fully develop one idea and get really good at it. Often times alliance captains are looking for their second pick robot to be able to perform one task exceptionally well that completes their strategy. Examples are being amazing at defense, consistently scoring on the opposite switch, consistently scoring on the scale, or being able to climb ramps or the bar 99.99999% of the time.
Lastly, if you are a rookie or second year team and the other teams at the competition aren't very familiar with you, make sure they know who you are. You can do this by sticking out in matches that they are scouting, or even going up to their pit and being like "hey, I know you guys are looking for a team that can do [insert whatever task here]. Let me tell you about our robot".
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