Correlation between driving skill and practice field availability

I’ve been doing some research, and found out that a lot (not all) of the real successful teams in FIRST have a large area to practice in, or at least enough room for a practice field. Does anyone think these two could be related? If so, I’m hoping to use it as a fact for a presentation given to my school about why we need a bigger room to practice in (It’s currently tiny).

Yes. I know that one of the top drivers in FRC (in his day–he’s graduated) wore multiple sets of wheels out practicing during his career. You don’t need a full practice field, per se, but a 1/2-length or 1/3 width could do the work very well (depending on the year), and anything larger would be simply extra room to get other robots out there with you.


All of the good teams I know build practice robots and practice on large fields (whether or not they are their own).

Without a practice field, you cannot practice. You will get no more than about an hour of field time during a normal FRC competition (assuming you play through the finals). An hour of drive practice (an entire competition worth) is not a ton of time during the build season, but can immensely help driver skills training. When you have a large enough area to do full field drills, you can run up to full speed very easily, and get a much better feel for how the robot will actually handle on the field. Carpet is important for this. As a final thought, it’s very hard to program an autonomous if the field isn’t big enough to run it fully.

Another thing you might want to compare between teams is work hours and dedication, and building a practice robot. I know of a team (who works across the street from us, we use their practice field occasionally) who works harder than any team I know. When we go to practice (in between competitions), they are always spending late nights (past midnight) practicing, letting their robot cool and building minibots, practicing some more, fixing whatever breaks, etc. while their robot is sitting in its bag in the corner, only to pull it out for a two hour unbag winow and practice some more.

Related? Very likely. Does having a practice field cause you to perform better? Not necessarily, but likely.

It’s pretty likely that teams that perform better on a regular basis are also teams that seek out additional resources, which could include a practice field. Basically, the teams that have practice fields are probably also the teams that work harder.

In the end, if you think you’ll perform better with a practice field and you can reasonably explain why, that’s better than any correlational study. Allow me to point out the fallacy of the Appeal to Common Practice.

If you’re looking for reasons why a practice field could be beneficial, then just ignore me. This thread would be a great place for that.

Thanks for all of your input! I really appreciate it! I was just talking to my team mate who had the idea of a collapsible field, Like, we bring a roll of carpet (with tape, etc.), have mobile scoring pegs, etc. Would that be a viable option?

A very viable option and wise decision. A per se “modular” practice field is a great way to prep and test.

Our team uses the school cafeteria during build season as a practice field. Our scoring pegs, walls, and other field components are all easily broken down and placed back in storage by Sunday night (if over the weekend), or every night (if during the work week). The only hassle is the full roll of carpet we have from the 2010 CT Regional. It’s best to have a smaller carpet if only testing key robot functions.

Thanks! We would mainly be testing smaller robot functions, but not too small. We would still need a place easy enough to fit, but enough room for actual driver practice. We currently use the library, but we have to bring EVERYTHING over there, including robots, minibot poles, tubes, computers, drive stations, scoring racks, EVERYTHING. Plus, it’s all the way on the other side of campus. We are trying to get either a bigger room, closer to the middle of school, or another room to use. The school says “maybe soon”, but never does anything. We had the idea of having a storage in the library where we can put field parts when not being used, but we’re not sure if the library will let us. If we can get a large carpet, we may be able to practice in the cafeteria, since there is a storage area in the back our lead mentor is in charge of.

Practice field + Practice bot + Iteration = awesome sauce

And who doesn’t like Awesome sauce?!

Would it be possible to acquire a truck trailer to store parts ‘n’ stuffs in? We use a classroom for general storage (robots, computers, electronics, tools), and have a trailer located outside that holds travel supplies, game pieces, and raw materials. Our practice field components are stored beneath a stairwell.

Having a shed of sorts may be a viable option if your school allows it. As long as it is secured properly and isn’t found as an eye sore I’m sure it’ll work as a solution.

We have a storage bin, but it’s very messy and needs to be cleaned out (on to do list). But, it’s on the far side of campus, only next to the thousands of yards of fields our school uses for its highly esteemed sports programs. :frowning:

Make a robot that’ll pick it up… :rolleyes:

But where are we going to store that? :rolleyes:

In a bin that another robot you made… made. :cool:

Challenge accepted. :cool:

Having a practice field definitely helps, but you can be successful without one. My senior year, I drove for Breakaway, and I only got to drive the robot the night before ship, in an area that wasnt big enough for me to get the robot up to full speed. We also didnt have a practice robot. We went 30-13 on the season, won a regional, and made it to the semi finals at champs. I do wish we would have had a practice field/the time to practice.

09 and 11 had about the same amount of drive practice, but didnt quite have the same success.

Re-quoted for truth.

I think a better title for the thread might be “Correlation between driving skill and driving practice”

I mean, think about it: Don’t you get better at something you do often? Why do you think a 45 year old car driver is so much more likely to not have accidents that, say, an 18 year old?

It has been said that it takes 5,000 hours of doing something to get really good at it (after which improvements are negligible). But the first hours bring a greater relative improvement than the last hours.

If you driver practices several hundred hours, they might not win a competition, but they will surely get the robot to perform to its highest capabilities. (Manipulator operators as well).

You don’t need a 27 x 54 foot regulation field, but yes - having an adequately-sized practice space and the time to practice (with either your early-completed competition bot or with a practice bot) has a strong correlation with winning.

Exactly what I wanted to say.

The more you drive the faster you learn what does and doesn’t work as well as where the weak points in your design are.

This is why we made 5 improvements between our 1st pass roller claw and the final championship version. We found the weak points in practice and iterated until we had it right.

If you can take care of this learning at practice rather than at the regional you are ahead of the game.

This past year, we had a decent amount of practice prior to our competition. I absolutely know this helped. Even though we didn’t have a full field, we had a large area of carpet and we built a rack of pegs. Putting in a few hours of tube hanging definitely helped becasue we went in to our first competition already knowing the motions of hanging tubes. We don’t build a practice robot (time contraints) but we have used prior years robots to drive before our new base is up and running.

In 2010, our drivers had almost no practice whatsoever, so everything was learned at competition. With the 2011 season being my first year on the Drive Team (as Coach), I would definitely say the pre-competition practice helped me, and our drivers. I would guess that it helped our Human Player, but our cafeteria had lower ceilings so I don’t know what it was like to practice throwing.