Adults on the Field

Our team had an unfortunate event last year during which an adult from an alliance team yelled at our driver during a match. Reportedly he was screaming in the kid’s ear. The student was completely freaked out by this since adults don’t do this on our team. While I understand there are going to be “sad little men” at these events, I was surprised that none of the officials intervened. I was not around at the time.
Does FIRST try to intervene in cases like this?
Also, why are adults allowed on the field? My students would laugh at me if I said I was going to go with them, but even if I had something to offer, I would have to replace the Captain and she has worked hard to get there.


Depends what they were yelling about…

Matches are loud, sometimes coaches yell to communicate.


I previously before taking over my team this year. I was on the drive team all four years, and this very thing had happened to me. I went ahead and asked the adult to step back, my drive coach said something, and the FTA asked the mentor to leave the field. Not sure if this happens every case though.


Well i think i need a little bit more context. It was a mentor correct? What was he yelling? How old was the team member? How old was the man?

1 Like

This seems like a great way to start off a thread… no animus here at all!


Not sure of exact age but over 40 and the student was 16. Reportedly this was not yelling directions because of noise, it was a man who had lost his… stuff. It was everyone’s first year, but sounds like they should have reported it to an official.

Some teams are going to take competitions more seriously and mentor drive coaches are allowed and they are going to act like that because most teams with mentor coaches are trying to win more than anything.


Does it help them win? My student’s know the game better than me.

1 Like

Some teams do better with mentor coaches. 254 had mentor coach for a long time, not sure if they switched to student. I certainly wouldn’t be able to handle the stress of coaching, and 1072 has used student coaches forever, I think.
Let’s get one thing straight though: mentors/adults should completely be allowed on the field for coaching. Sometimes adult coaches are the right choice for teams. That doesn’t excuse making another team’s student uncomfortable, and informing an FTA or some other official is the right move in this case. Alternatively, send an adult from your team over to them after the match to speak with them.


As much as I hate to weigh in on this - yeah there seems to be a correlation between the top teams and mentor coaches. Not to call them out, I have immense respect for JVN and Co, but if you look at the best teams in the world (254, 1678, 148, etc) they all use mentor coaches. Even the top tier teams in my respective district had mentor coaches.

Not to say student coaches can’t win matches, I was a student coach and was successful. But things can get heated on the field and drive teams have to prepare for the possibility of people losing their cool regardless of age. I’ve been screamed at by kids and adults alike - nothing to do but listen to them, determine if their remark has any virtue, and move on.

1 Like

Adding onto this, our coach last year did a very good job dealing with other teams, at least with regards to making sure we did what we wanted on the field and preparing a cohesive strategy. One of our criteria for selecting a coach is someone who’s able to stand up to an adult during pre-match strategy sessions, as we always want to push our robot’s abilities on the field to prepare for alliance selections. Maturity is critical for a coach. Sometimes a team might not have a student that’s good at that, and those are the situations where mentor coaches become valuable.


Why mentor coach? Experience helps. My team doesn’t do mentor coaches but I understand why some teams do. You get that stability in the position. Realistically you get two, maybe three years out of a student coach. A mentor coach can be there for far more than that and gain a lot of experience on how to respond to all of the things that happen on the competition field.

I say this as a student who’s fortunate enough to be entering my fourth year on drive team. One year operating and two years driving has prepared me to know what is needed from the drive coach. But that four years of experience is going to reset when I graduate.

Also – events are loud and shouting is often necessary, especially to get information from station 1 to station 3 or vice versa. In Minnesota specifically there doesn’t seem to be a lot of mentor drive coaches, but I did interact with a few at Champs last year. If they did something out of line then that’s something that should be handled by an adult from your team or by talking to an official. This program is all about student inspiration and being berated by an adult you just met certainly isn’t inspiring.


I don’t think this necessarily has to do with mentor drive coaches; I’ve seen mentors and students both lose their cool, especially during matches. That doesn’t give them a pass, but we’re all human and even the best of us slip up at times. It’s hard to make judgment calls without being there, but I would highly encourage anyone dealing with this issue to bring it up with the appropriate parties as soon as possible after it happens.
If it happens during a match, go to the question box and talk with the head ref about it. I’ve seen cases where it was a heat-of-the-moment thing, and the offending party apologized then shook hands with the other team. I’ve also seen someone involved with a team accost and grab a ref over a call in a match.
If it happens some other time, find a volunteer and ask if they can help you get in contact with the Event Manager.

In addition to Gracious Professionalism, there is a rule directly addressing this in the manual:

Be a good person. All teams must be civil toward their team members, other team members, competition personnel, FIELD STAFF, and event attendees while at a FIRST ® Robotics Competition event.

Violation: Behavior will be discussed with team or individual. Violations of this rule are likely to escalate to YELLOW or RED CARDS rapidly (i.e. the threshold for egregious or repeated violations is relatively low.)

Didn’t 254 have a student drive coach in 2018?


I’m not really sure what the age of the aggressor has to do with anything.
But a person was yelling at one of your students is a perfectly valid reason to pull an FTA, really any volunteer at the event could probably get you to the right people with a little walking, and say that the drive coach from team XXXX was yelling at a student and they felt uncomfortable. Having the student in question present. Even if it was some time later I’m sure they would take it seriously.

As for why FIRST allows mentors to be Drive Coaches, because to be an effective drive coach takes a mentality that is uncommon in high school students, which is especially impactful for small teams, and it allows the mentor to support their team in often times very stressful situations. I was a mentor drive coach before I switched to leading the scouts and the only student I would be confident replacing me is the current driver, who likes driving and would much rather be able to focus on being the best driver than all the background stuff a drive coach has to do. Also, unfortunately, I certainly know the rules better than any of my students and always have.

1 Like

I think 254 is still on mentor, they actually released an interview about why mentor coaches are better, where most of their reasons was that kids can’t handle losing and they need someone to blame which sounded kind of dumb to me as that is part of being a drive team member and losing and looking back has improved me a lot of the past years. But whether the coach is an adult or kid everyone should be treated with respect regardless.


IIRC 254 not only had a student drive coach last season, it was a FRESHMAN.


this stuff is funny tbh.


Teams with student coaches are also trying to win too, are they not?


We’ve always had a student coach, and currently I’m going into my second year as coach. I can also relate to the situation OP is describing since I’ve delt with similar problems. I personally disagree with having mentors on the field but I understand why teams do it. Unfortunately, for now, that’s a part of the game.