Can team members rotate positions?

I don’t see a rule against this, so thought I’d ask to clarify. Can team members rotate through the player positions? For instance, if the whole team elects the 4 players, can these designations be totally changed?
Thanks for the help!

Brian Induni
Team 3145, TeraViks

Nothing states that your drive team must remain the same throughout a competition, though it IS highly recommended.

NB: This post is based on my past six years of experience… I don’t believe there are any changes planned for this year, but there may be. <edit2> Please note the changes to the coach position pointed out by Daniel in the next post. </edit2>

In short… yes.

The positons are determined by the “buttons” that the four member drive team wears. You will receive these buttons when you arrive at your event. They will have your team number on them, and one will have a sticker to indicate that this person is the “coach”.

Do NOT lose these buttons. If you lose one, then you will be down to a three member drive team as the buttons are not (typically) replaced, and team members without buttons will not be allowed to approach the playing field.

When your team is called to queing, any four members of your team may wear these buttons in any configuration that your team selects. Students can wear any button, however adults may only wear the “coach” button. Regardless of who is wearing the “coach” button, they are NOT allowed to touch the controls, or the balls. They are there ONLY to coach.

Once the team puts the robot on the field, the three non-coach team members may choose whatever duties they want, however typically they retain those duties for the duration of the match, but this is not specifically required by the rules. (Although some rules inhibiting movement of the human player may make it difficult for the human player and driver to swap roles in the middle of the match, you usually don’t want to do THAT!)

After the match the drive team may swap roles, or you may swap out your drive team completely and send four new team members down as your next drive team.

Generally, however, it would be wise to stick to one, or perhaps two, primary drivers for the entire event so that they gain experience handling the robot in competitive conditions.

It is imperative that anyone from your team who forms part of the drive team KNOW THE RULES. It is very frustrating and embarassing to get penalties for ignorance, especially for your alliance partners who will share the punishment with your team if one of your players violates one of the rules.

Perhaps that should be another thread… a list of “what drive team members must know to play Breakaway”.

But yes… the short answer is yes. The drive team members CAN rotate positions.


<edit> Some teams may recommend keeping the entire drive team the same throughout a tournament… I like to swap students in and out of coaching, human player and second driver positions. If we do two regionals I’ll even switch the driver and second driver at the first regional, and may throw in a third driver for practice runs (or a second driver in a one regional year). You have to find a balance between building experience for future years, giving students the chance to experience being “on the field”, and maintaining a competitive team. Each team will have a slightly different balance, and, so long as everyone on the field KNOWS THE RULES and can contribute, there is no right or wrong way to do things. </edit>


<G15> BALL Handling – BALLS may be handled by any TEAM member when BALLS are in the CORRAL or ALLIANCE STATION. BALLS may not be handled until they have exited from the BALL COUNTER and are in the CORRAL. Violation: PENALTY.

Coaches are allowed to handle the balls this year.

Why is it recommended?

Consistency is recommended mainly due to experience. Not just the “driving the robot on the field” experience but also: strategizing, queueing, match set-up, match format, robot removal.

That said, as rookies, if you’re wanting as many people to get experience driving the robot they built, nobody’s going to argue with you.

As with all else in FIRST, find what works for your team that year.

For the same reason you want the same person driving your yellow bus everyday; you want someone who knows what they’re doing and the consistency. If you keep switching it up you have inconsistency, and no one person gets particularly skilled. Having back-ups for all the positions is good, but, if you want to do well (which you very well could not be concerned with), you should be consistent. At least for one event. Our team keeps the same drive team for the season, and some teams keep the same positions (primary driver, mostly) for years (Simbotics comes to mind).

This I’m sure will come off rather harshly to some but…

The more drive time any student gets the more proficient they will be.

Drivers being more proficient increases the liklihood that you will either seed or be picked.

Driver mistakes and penalties coming from a lack of practice,field time, poor or lack of understanding the rules are frowned upon by alliance partners as they cost not only your own team but also your partners.

In other words continuity is a good thing for many reasons which will benefit your team’s performance.

Whatever you decide to do, be sure that everyone knows the rules for the position they are going to fill. Coaches can’t drive, and can only touch the controls to avoid catastrophy. Only the human player can use the trident to put the ball on the ball return.

There was one human player last year who racked up penalty after penalty in the Outpost because he didn’t know the position. He stood up, didn’t use the seatbelt, stuck his hand through the hole, all kinds of things. That doesn’t win you any games.

And you can’t change positions during the match.

TEAM: Four representatives from a registered FRC team that interact with their ROBOT and their ALLIANCE partners to play Breakaway. Positions on the TEAM include:
COACH: A student or adult mentor designated as the team coach and advisor during the MATCH and identified as the person wearing the designated “COACH” pin or button. There is one COACH per TEAM.
DRIVER: A pre-college student team member responsible for operating and controlling the ROBOT. There are two DRIVERS per TEAM.
HUMAN PLAYER: A pre-college student team member responsible for properly returning BALLS to the FIELD. There is one HUMAN PLAYER per TEAM. The HUMAN PLAYER is the only TEAM MEMBER that may handle the TRIDENT.

<G50> TEAM Positions during TELEOPERATED PERIOD - During the TELEOPERATED PERIOD, the DRIVERS, COACH and HUMAN PLAYER may travel anywhere within the ALLIANCE STATION, but they must stay within the ALLIANCE STATION boundaries, and not step outside the designated area. Violation: One PENALTY for each violation. Exceptions will be allowed in cases involving TEAM member safety.
<G51> DRIVERS Operating ROBOTS - During a MATCH, the OPERATOR CONSOLE shall be operated solely by the DRIVERS. Violation: Disablement and RED CARD.

Between matches, anything goes (well, other than an adult driver or human player).

During matches is tougher to call. I’ll assume that somehow, you manage to have some way of switching really quickly. Note that if someone is free, they can handle a ball (but the HP has to handle the trident).

Assuming that there is no explicit difference between the HP badges and the DRIVER badges (or other means of identification), you have a tough situation to call if a team decided to trade positions other than coach during a match.

WITHOUT Q&A clarification, I’d have to say driver-driver trades only.

WITH Q&A clarification, who knows?

I’d say to ask Q&A.

Gary, got anything that I don’t (e.g., ref-only material)? I can’t find anything in the rules to support that you can’t switch during the match. The only Q&A I can find on the subject is, which simply says that you can’t give up one position to get an extra in another position.

No reference that specifically says you can’t switch during a match. It just makes sense. If you identify someone as a HP who is allowed to handle the trident (or remove balls from the corral during auto), how are you going to tell the ref that you have a new HP? The ref will see the wrong person doing something, and take action accordingly.

Or any friends…

Given two robots, one fairly good and one simple. If the team with the simple robot practices and becomes proficient, they will beat the robot with more functionality every time. there simply is no substitute for practice. When asked “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” the answer is “Practice, practice, practice!”

I saw this in action at the Chesapeake regional.
Very simple robots – no elevation mechanism, some with no kicking mechanism – driven smart and well, scoring like crazy.

I heard the adage: “Good drivers will beat better robots!” in my very first competition.

There’s no substitute for crisp execution on the field. One driver mistake can cost a an alliance a match. Top teams establish their drive teams early and they practice, practice, practice! You’ll even see them on the practice field at competitions when they’re not on the playing field.

Unless you are concerned your driver is going to miss an event, you should stick with one drive team.

Switching around on practice day to decide among a small group of students who does what is better so that back up kids have a chance in case they are called into duty (hopefully not). Keeping up with consistency is a very good idea especially in the qualification and elimination matches.

Everyone else has pretty much covered it all on the topics of whether your drive team members can switch positions and why consistency in the drive team is valued during a competition However, if you’d really like to give multiple people driving experience, there’s no reason you can’t. It just doesn’t have to be during your regional. You can have drivers practice ahead of time with an old or secondary robot so they get a feel for the way the robot reacts to what they’re doing and become more proficient. If you work on this before the competitions, you can practice switching pairs of drivers and coaches to see who works best together to play as the competition drive team. You can also rotate your drive teams at off-season competitions to give them more competition experience, as it is not the same as driving alone in an empty room. These could both be ways to allow multiple students to practice multiple drive team roles. Ultimately it depends on your team’s resources and values this year- will you have any old or practice robots, are you going to any off-season competitions, and do you feel strongly about students having multiple roles during regionals specifically.