Any advice for a new captain?

I was told, to my surprise, that I’m going to be the new co-captain of my team this coming season, (four words: terrified, super excited, TERRIFIED) and I know that there’s only so much I can learn from other people and a lot of the stuff I need to learn by doing but I thought it couldn’t hurt to ask all you lovely people for any captaincy advice. Hopefully this will be helpful for other captains for this coming season.

For a little context, our team is located in the middle of nowhere, aka Perth, Western Australia. We haven’t had COVID cases for the last 8 months so life here is very normal and the whole “remote FRC” thing isn’t really applicable to our build season, however for competitions, it’s a big question mark because we usually travel to Sydney.


First off, CONGRATS!!

Secondly, I’d like to share this thread that was created a while ago. IMO It has some pretty solid advice that I’d recommend you look though.

If you have any questions I’d love to try and help you out. I’m also sure there are plenty of (wiser) people who would love share their insights and advice!


Advice #1: If I were you, I’d keep at least one ear tuned towards HQ/the FRC Blog/CD just to kind of get a feel for what’s going on. If you don’t tune one of your own ears, figure out who wants to do that and make sure they feed you the executive summary of what’s come out (and remind them to monitor the Rule Updates as well). As a mentor, I tend to be that person for my team–but I also try to convince the students to run through and see what they need to know.

Sub-point: You may want to catch up with some of the info.

Unfortunately… as things currently stand, it IS applicable, in full. Until in-person events are announced (no earlier than Kickoff) everything is remote. That doesn’t mean that you can’t meet in person–but it does mean that you’re competing remotely. One of the examples given in the awards blog is that a team from Australia may be competing against a team from Michigan in, say, the Game Design Challenge. This also answers that question mark–as things stand, no traveling.

That said: Subject to Change. Stay alert in January as we’ll find out where the first batch of in-person events will be if there are any.

Advice #2: Delegate! You’re going to overload at some point. That’s fine, it happens. When it does happen, or preferably before it does, grab yourself a minion (or freshman) and assign them some tasks. (Though… try to get volunteers to be delegated first…)

Advice #3: You’ll probably screw up at some point. Again, it happens. How you respond is the important part–and if you start by admitting you screwed up, things often tend to go a bit smoother.

And most importantly, and I think you’ve already figured this out: Ask for help when you need it. :wink: You do seem to have that part down. Remember that you don’t need to know everything… you just need to know which person is the expert in what field, and ask them.


Ah yes. I was more meaning the remote build season side of things where teams are unable to meet and build a physical robot. That side of things isn’t really applicable to us.

I did know that all events were going to be remote or not happening at all and that there were different awards to make up for it (game design, innovation project and a robot skills comp iirc)

Thanks for the rest of the advice tho. Will keep that in mind :slight_smile:

Thanks so much! Will check it out

Watch this presentation by Maisie from 2177. She does a great job detailing her time as the team captain last year and heading into this season.


Congratulations on your new role. It is a great learning opportunity for you.

One of the characteristics of a good leader is knowing how to delegate tasks and responsibilities and knowing who to delegate them to. They also tend to surround themselves with people who are smarter and more capable than themselves.

Repeated for emphasis. Delegation is always the hardest skill to learn.

Sadly, this means you’ll have to step back from some of the most enjoyable tasks. Your job is now to keep things going by asking people to perform tasks they are both good at and will enjoy.

Delegation: Explain what they need to do, and also explain that you’ll “review their result with them and offer suggestions” - essentially, that is when you teach. Stating at the start that you’ll review it with suggestions sets their expectations.

You’re not their boss, so be ready to explain the “why” of any task, since as volunteers they can quit at any time. Convince, don’t demand or order.

Good luck



Delegation is very hard, especially when you know you can do it better/faster.
Remember that this is a team sport.
I tell my captains to expect to only touch the robot when necessary, and to delegate everything else (Believe me … your time will be filled up assisting others). Remember that your job is to make sure things get done ( not necessarily to do it yourself)
When your delegates succeed, give them credit, publicly.
When they fail, take the blame yourself.
When delegating, give a good description of what you expect, and get an expected deadline. Confer with the person to ensure they can/will meet the deadline before it’s due and get assistance if it’ll be late.

and last, but not least, have fun.


This is another opportunity to delegate. Remember, you can delegate tasks like this to your mentors too.

You can also take the person who “failed” aside and, in private, tell them what they did get right and “how they could have done better”. When done right, the people being led will develop an attitude of never wanting to let down their leader and you will rarely have to deal with real failures.

While learning to lead may sound scary, it is well worth learning. Don’t worry about making mistakes. View this as your opportunity to make mistakes and learn where the consequences of failure are minimized (by your mentors). Take full advantage of this opportunity and you will be further ahead in life, even if you “failed” because you will be one step closer to success.

When I was in the Air Force we had a saying; PIPPIP (Praise in Public, Punish in Private)

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I would suggest the Jocko podcast. He gives advice on what good leaders are like leader and how to become one.

(Secret advice) I just listened to The Dictators Handbook, and it could be usefull for your role as well.

Don’t have a power trip but be confident in your abilities. You were put in this position for a reason, so be yourself. In addition to that point, you are still a member of the team and should always keep that in your brain somewhere. Finally, develop your own leadership style, whatever that means for you. Learn about different leaders and look at what they did that may work for you. Good luck, it’s the most fun I had in high school.

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As a student that was in a leadership position for all 4 years of FRC, be prepared to be the first one there and the last one to leave, working hard and being pulled in every direction.
Provided I don’t know your team’s condition or how it works. However, as with any upper position, make sure that you are well informed of all things and stay on top of them. One of the biggest areas of trouble for my team was how inexperienced I was and how little I knew when I was pushed into a very key position. (Provided I was a sophomore when that happened). Also, be prepared to pick up other’s slack with a smile on your face. I did this alot.

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