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View Poll Results: Is your on field coach
A student 198 44.70%
An adult 190 42.89%
It varies from year to year 55 12.42%
Voters: 443. You may not vote on this poll

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Unread 04-28-2014, 03:25 PM
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Re: On field Coach - Student or Adult

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Originally Posted by Chris is me View Post
No need to jump down anyone's throat yet - it's just a thread asking for the pros / cons of why you make the decision you do. There's going to be some people implicitly asserting that a student coach means your team is more student run, or that a mentor coach is inherently better for on field performance, or other incorrect assumptions like that. I would encourage people to ignore them.

2791 has always used a mentor coach, and probably always will in regular season events. The opportunity for direct mentorship between the drive coach, strategy mentors, and students on the drive team is just too great to pass up. Much like a great football coach can inspire a football team, or a great basketball coach can keep players in the zone while making strategic decisions, a great robotics coach can serve as a role model, leader, and friend to a drive team. Watching the current drive team "grow up" under the direction of our mentor coach over the past two years has been incredible, and I'm sure not a single member of the drive team would trade away the dynamic that's developed for anything else.

A student coach is not a bad coach. We have worked with excellent student coaches over the past several years, and I was even a student coach on my old team. Along the same lines, a mentor coach is not inherently bad either. When doing pre-match strategy, I pay almost no attention to the age of the other coaches. I care about how knowledgeable they are of the game, their robot, and the strengths / weaknesses of the alliance. We work together to come up with a plan that lets everyone contribute in a positive way. If we come in with a plan and the other alliance is opposed to it, we try and find a compromise that works. I don't feel I have been listened to in pre-match strategy more as an adult than a student. Whether or not I'm listened to depends on my confidence, the validity of the plan, and my willingness to work with others.

A lot of the problems people have in this thread aren't with student coaches or mentor coaches. These people actually have problems with coaches who are massive jerks. Regardless of age, massive jerks shouldn't be coaches, and teams shouldn't let massive jerks serve as their coaches. If we all adhered to this rule, this topic wouldn't be nearly as contentious. I will say that coaches need to be some of the most mature people on the team, and it's easier to find a mature mentor than a mature student, but that doesn't mean students can't be mature enough for the role.
This sums up my team pretty well too. We've had an adult mentor as our drive coach for as long as I can remember, and a large part of that is the consistency and perspective that an adult can bring to the situation. For the last four (at least) years, our drive coach has been a data architect who has been with the team almost since the beginning. He's one of the calmest people I know and is a master of both persuasion and defusing tense situations, because that's his job. That being said, the last couple of years have let him take a back seat, letting students occasionally act as drive coaches for matches where there are other experienced drive teams on the field. Might we be a bit more successful if he was always out there? Probably, but I think we've found a happy medium. We're transitioning towards possibly having a different drive coach next year, who will probably also be an adult, but I think the same applies there-- students may come and go, but a good mentor drive coach can stay with the team and provide a solid cornerstone to work off of.
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Unread 04-28-2014, 06:11 PM
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Re: On field Coach - Student or Adult

We consistently have a student coach, and haven't run into any issues. Call it "Minnesota nice", but our drive team has been very vocal about when issues do happen, and none have been with other coaches or drive teams, save occasional miscommunication or misrepresentation (the typical "oh yeah we can do xyz and abc" and the team dances the whole match). But really, we haven't had any issues and our coach this year had four years of experience, so we didn't see any reason to have an adult coach. That's just our team, though.
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Unread 04-28-2014, 07:36 PM
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Re: On field Coach - Student or Adult

We have a student coach because it's what we've done and it works for us. We've always been a student run team during competitions and our mentors only help us out with making sure the robot is functioning.

One adult coach I remember in particular was during the Buckeye Regional when we were teamed up with the legendary team 217. The reason why this coach stuck out in particular was that he helped with strategy, was very cooperative and before each of our elimination matches, he gave us an inspiring pep talk. Props to 217's mentor for being a great guy and we hope to meet again next year.
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Unread 04-28-2014, 08:02 PM
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Re: On field Coach - Student or Adult

We have always had a student coach. We don't need an adult yelling at them telling them how to drive the robot. They know how to drive the robot and it teaches them how to think for themselves. I've typically seen a correlation between the teams that have adult coaches and the ones that let the adults build the whole robot. This year, our mentors were more hands-off than ever, and we made leaps and bounds because of this. We may not have done as well as we wanted to, but we learned so much more from from it. The STUDENTS made the mistakes, and the STUDENTS learned from it, and the STUDENTS built the robot.
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Unread 04-28-2014, 08:06 PM
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Re: On field Coach - Student or Adult

Our team prides itself on being student-led, so we have a student coach. This year was slightly more complicated than just that, however. I was our team's second driver this year, and I controlled our robot's shooter. Our shooter was almost completely automated, though, so I really only had one button on my controller. This allowed me to serve as a "team coach" while our actual student coach filled the role of "alliance coach". We felt this allowed our alliances to be more effective and unified. Also, because of some major upgrades to our scouting system this year, one of our mentors became more involved with strategy and scouting. Though he never coached us on the field, he did often help us plan strategy before matches*, so overall I would say we had 2.5 coaches this year.

*We are currently planning to have a student fill this role next year, to get students more involved again.
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Unread 04-28-2014, 08:09 PM
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Re: On field Coach - Student or Adult

Quote:
Originally Posted by EMHS2773 View Post
We have always had a student coach. We don't need an adult yelling at them telling them how to drive the robot. They know how to drive the robot and it teaches them how to think for themselves. I've typically seen a correlation between the teams that have adult coaches and the ones that let the adults build the whole robot. This year, our mentors were more hands-off than ever, and we made leaps and bounds because of this. We may not have done as well as we wanted to, but we learned so much more from from it. The STUDENTS made the mistakes, and the STUDENTS learned from it, and the STUDENTS built the robot.
Please don't judge other teams by their build styles, and please don't make assumptions about other team's building by their choice in drive coach. We have an adult drive coach and a painted, professional looking robot. I am confident that you would jump to the conclusion that we were an adult built robot and you would be dead wrong. The implication of your post is that adult involvement is inherently at the expense of student learning, growth, and development, and that couldn't be further from the truth. Be proud of what works for your team but please not at the expense or judgement of others.
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Unread 04-28-2014, 08:58 PM
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Re: On field Coach - Student or Adult

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Originally Posted by Chris is me View Post
Please don't judge other teams by their build styles, and please don't make assumptions about other team's building by their choice in drive coach. We have an adult drive coach and a painted, professional looking robot. I am confident that you would jump to the conclusion that we were an adult built robot and you would be dead wrong. The implication of your post is that adult involvement is inherently at the expense of student learning, growth, and development, and that couldn't be further from the truth. Be proud of what works for your team but please not at the expense or judgement of others.
I wasn't trying to downcast robots that looked professionally built. I love seeing robots built extremely well and our team tries to make ours look the best it can. I was just referencing the teams that I've talked to that seemed the students we were talking with had no interaction with the actual build of the robot. This didn't help when I saw only mentors in the pits working on the robot. While I only saw a handful of instances at our 2 competitions this year, several people on our team observed an increase in this kind of adult involvement in the pits and the field over previous years.

Sorry to derail this thread, I just didn't want anyone to misinterpret my opinion.
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Unread 04-28-2014, 10:23 PM
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Re: On field Coach - Student or Adult

On 2607, since our rookie year, we have had a student coach for two reasons.

First of all, the position of coach is seen as a great opportunity for students to build really good leadership skills through the interactions with the drive team and other teams. One main reason that I see teams using an adult coach is that it is a unique mentoring opportunity for the 3 students on the drive team, which is completely true. This, however, doesn't allow a student to grow into that role, to lean in that role (learn very applicable life skills I might add). There really isn't any other position that gives that sort of experience for students in FRC.

Also, having an adult be a coach on the field can be a bit intimidating for some students. Having an adult yell out things at you, a lot of kids kindof shutdown or stop thinking. When it's a student, the relationship seems more natural where the drivers converse and contest about the decisions of the coach (not necessarily on the field).

And, for the obligatory "don't hate" line: Just my two cents
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Unread 04-29-2014, 08:43 AM
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Re: On field Coach - Student or Adult

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Originally Posted by dellagd View Post
On 2607, since our rookie year, we have had a student coach for two reasons.

First of all, the position of coach is seen as a great opportunity for students to build really good leadership skills through the interactions with the drive team and other teams. There really isn't an other position that give that sort of experience for students in FRC.

Also, having an adult be a coach on the field can be a bit intimidating for some students. Having an adult yell out things at you, a lot of kids kindof shutdown or stop thinking. When it's a student, the relationship seems more natural where the drivers converse and contest about the decisions of the coach (not necessarily on the field).
This is the best way I could've worded it.
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Unread 04-29-2014, 08:44 AM
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Re: On field Coach - Student or Adult

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Originally Posted by Max Boord View Post
It is %100 team dependent. I have had to fight the "please dont load an auto ball" battle before and having an adult coach helps hugely. I have also seen students act as some of the best coaches (1876 and). I have also seen a few mentors with incredible coaching and strategy skills (1065 comes to mind).
Wow, thanks.

Personally I think students can be great coaches. When talking and strategizing with alliances student coaches communicate with other students better. In my experiences, it is easy for an adult coach to put off a condescending tone and it can be awkward for alliance members to discuss strategizes with another team's adult coach. Also I feel having a student coach better represents your team.

In my opinion a coach's job is to know the rules, organize, strategize, and motivate.
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Unread 04-29-2014, 08:52 AM
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Re: On field Coach - Student or Adult

Since I have become a mentor and joined my current team, we have had an adult coach (me). During my time as a student, we had adult coaches except 2011, where I stepped up to coach. As has been said before, the coach is the anchor of the drive team; it will weigh it down or give it stability in rough seas. Know your rules, know how to be diplomatic, know your robot's limits and know when to say yes and no. Whether it's an adult or a student, the best coaches know.
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Unread 04-29-2014, 09:23 AM
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Re: On field Coach - Student or Adult

This is just my opinion from one year behind the glass as an adult coach. It seemed to me that 3/4 of the student coached teams struggled with organization on the field. That is when most of the pre game strategy went out the window during the match. That's not to say that adult coaches didn't struggle either, but it was closer to 1/3 of the teams with adult coaches.

Whatever fits your team structure is what you should use and follow for your drive team. It's all about inspiring students, do what inspires the most.

My biggest frustration was when others didn't know the basic rules of the game, it doesn't matter who the drive coach is if no one knows the rules.
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Unread 04-29-2014, 10:00 AM
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Re: On field Coach - Student or Adult

I hesitate to chime into the conversation because I don't want to say that one way or another is better for someone else's team.

For HOT, we have always had an adult coach. Before me we had a great coach in Ken Velzy. I learned from him how to coach and work with the students.

Coaching the HOT Drive team is one of the most rewarding opportunities I have had in my life. Getting to work with our "best of the best" students is amazing. Meeting other students and metors from the greatest teams in FIRST is what keeps me going. I know FIRST is for inspiring students, but us adults also live for this stuff as well.

When I was working in the pits...or scouting in the stands, I never met anyone. No one knew who I was...and I was not out-going enough to go out an meet people from other teams. Without meeting some of these other great FRC mentors (JVN, Cory/EJ, Karthik, Paul Copioli, etc...) and hearing/discussing FRC with them, I would not be nearly the mentor I am today. Hopefully, I am paying that back to both my team and other teams during my interactions with the students, presentations, etc...

From a pre-match perspective, I try to ask our alliance partners what they can do and what strategy they would like to run. 95% of the time, it's exactly what we want to do anyways. The other 5% we need to have a discussion on how to comprimise on the differences. I hope to not come off as a jerk during strategy discussions. But, we will call out a team that is lying about their capabilities.

During match play and just after is probably where I need the most work on emotion control. I try to limit any outburst to just my drive team. But, some times we may yell to another team about what to do. In qualifications if an assignment is missed, I usually let it go. In eliminations, we might have a conversation about what/how to do it in the next match.

I have worked with both adult and student coaches that are both incredibly talented and also some that are completely worthless on the field. Typically the students are much more open and honest about their machine and it's capabilities. I have no issue working with student coaches and drivers.

The one concern I have for teams with student coaches, is seeing the driver's and coaches arguing on the field. In the coach/driver relationship there needs to be clear definition that the coach is responsible for what on the field. Strategy, positioning, who to defend, how/when to score, etc... these need to be clearly determined through practice and lines of responsibility. When it's student to student, their is a possible power struggle that can play out during the match... effecting both the team and alliance.

For us, my driver's control the robot...but when given a command by me, that should override what they think is needed at that time. Because I can see the entire field and know what else is happening, I have the ultimate say. That allows the driver's to be free of the burden of answering why we did something....since it all falls on me. It helps me protect them in a way from the rest of the team.

I guess this is a long way of saying I hope I am providing a net benefit to our students and FRC in general as an adult coach of the HOT Team, and that is one of the biggest reasons why we choose to have an adult coach.
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Unread 04-29-2014, 12:03 PM
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Re: On field Coach - Student or Adult

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Originally Posted by Adam Freeman View Post
I know FIRST is for inspiring students, but us adults also live for this stuff as well.
Side note - I'm as much if not more inspired by what students can do and what a community can do than students are. I completely agree.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Freeman View Post
...is seeing the driver's and coaches arguing on the field...the coach/driver relationship there needs to be clear definition that the coach is responsible for...Strategy, positioning, who to defend, how/when to score, etc... When it's student to student, their is a possible power struggle that can play out during the match

I can see the entire field and know what else is happening....since it all falls on me.
All the things you mentioned, how amazing would it be if a group of 14-18 year olds were capable of working this out themselves. My argument for a student coach, is allowing a student to learn all of those things you do as an adult coach. Imagine, if we could get a group of students to look at a match they lost because of one person making a call, but yet be there to support each other. If those exact skills you mentioned were to be learned by a student....how powerful would that be?

At the end of the day, and this is where many may disagree, it's about what is learnt and not about who wins. If my team were to lose a quarterfinal match and come back to me, talked it out in front of me, what went wrong, what each other needs to do, go in for a team high five, and get back out there <- that's worth more than a million world championships.

As a mentor who got to hold a blue banner for the first time ever, the banner represents my students ability to work under 6 hrs of pressure to re-build their kitbot, the ability of a 13 year old kid to go talk to people 4 or 24 years older than him and dictate what strategy we were going to play and the countless number of emails over the span of 3 days requesting times for meetings sitting in my inbox.
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Unread 04-29-2014, 01:24 PM
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Re: On field Coach - Student or Adult

Quote:
Originally Posted by popnbrown View Post
All the things you mentioned, how amazing would it be if a group of 14-18 year olds were capable of working this out themselves. My argument for a student coach, is allowing a student to learn all of those things you do as an adult coach. Imagine, if we could get a group of students to look at a match they lost because of one person making a call, but yet be there to support each other. If those exact skills you mentioned were to be learned by a student....how powerful would that be?

At the end of the day, and this is where many may disagree, it's about what is learnt and not about who wins. If my team were to lose a quarterfinal match and come back to me, talked it out in front of me, what went wrong, what each other needs to do, go in for a team high five, and get back out there <- that's worth more than a million world championships.
You have an excellent point that is a strong argument in favor of student coaches. I just want to add that mentor coaches are not always at the expense of students learning. In some cases, students learn and grow more from working with an experienced mentor coach than they do with a peer. We don't really use an adult coach to get a competitive advantage - we use one to better inspire our kids within our particular team dynamic.

Basically, I get the idea from a lot of people (not really you, just reminded me of it) that student coaches are inherently more educational and mentor coaches are chosen for competitive reasons. I just want to provide an example to show that isn't always the case.
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