Drive Team Decisions

Our team is having a hard time with making up its mind on who is going to be our drive team and we dont know how to settle it either. We only have one team member who has experience on the drive team. We do not have a robot to practice on until we get to competition and we fear that is way too late to decide our drive team. How does your team usually decide decisions like this?

Our team usually has the same problem with not having a practice bot and if we need a new drive team, we usually have who we believe to be the best drive during practice matches and/or on the practice field at events.

If you’re team absolutely needs to decide a drive team before the competition, I would personally make sure the drivers understand how your team wants to play the game and is able to work with other teams on your alliance, both on the field and pre-match strategy. As a driver for 3 years, and a coach for part of this year, teams that work well together can pull off amazing feats, even if the drivers aren’t necessarily the best out there.

I hope you do well with whoever you have drive!

see who knows the rules the best. seems fair.

1- I suggest you find people who know well the robot (and the code), so if something goes wrong, they will know how to deal with it.

2-you need someone who knows how to work with the driver station (connection issues, dashboard, joysticks)

3- you need you drivers to play well under pressure. It’s not because they are good in practice that it will be the same on a real field.

4- you need to trust your drive team; you give them absolute control over the outcome of your season

5- your drivers MUST have read the rules AT LEAST 100 times

Must have someone fluent in the code, someone fluent in mechanical repairs, someone that is competent at driving. All must know the rules.

We had this same problem last year. What we did is we rotated the drive team with the top candidates (gamers tend to be the better drivers) through our first few matches. We reached a decision at the end of day one of qualifications by which team preformed best, and stuck with that team for the rest of the year.

check this power point out by Karthik a mentor from 1114. He does a lot with strategy and building a team. Page 25 is when he starts talking about Drive Team and such.

It needs to be students who can handle multiple tasks under pressure, are sharp enough to remember rules and game plans, know the robot well (ideally one person who is heavily involved in programming and one who is heavily involved in the build,) and who can represent your team well. What a good drive team does goes far beyond the 2:15 most people are thinking of.

The controls are the least part of it, honestly, and that part can be learned with no previous experience. Other things that aren’t important to driver skill: gender, seniority (other than a possible link with experience), or having the most desire to be the driver.

Your drivers publicly represent the team, so they need to be able to deal with the alliance partners and volunteers and each other in positive ways.

In my opinion, the importance of communication and interpersonal skills trump the driving skills.

This year we decided who our driveteam would be via a two part testing/tryout process. First we gave all students who wanted to be driveteam members a written rules/general team policy/strategy test. Then anyone who met a certain cutoff (75% IIRC) moved on to the practical tryout. For this part the students used the practice robot and worked with the coach to determine who makes the final cut. At this point we had two full driveteams and after more practice we decided which was the competition drive team and which was the backup driveteam.

Pre-season I went and let people drive a course I designed to test different skill levels. After seeing base skill level I brought in a technique I wanted them to learn and saw how receptive they are to learning complex mechanical driving skills. I took the best of them and then went and trained one group on high speed driving and the other I had specialize in high precision driving.

They all need to understand the rules.
Understand how to get the most points with your robot. That might be in a helping role for a more capable alliance partner.
The coach needs to understand strategy and how to negotiate with the alliance partners.
Human player needs to know what the penalties are and how not to get them.
The drivers need to know what the robot is capable of and understand the controls.

Suggest you get inspected early and get in as many practice matches as you can. Use the matches to work on skills.

Also make it clear that its not a pretty job either. As good as you look doing things right out on the field I’ve seen things turn sour. A lot of time drivers mistake programmers disappointment in code not running for disappointment in a driver ability. Drivers get the most flak out of any role I have seen on a team. “Why didn’t you score this or rush that?” Drivers get that a lot.

**Watch these videos: Driver Qualities Drive Coach Qualities Selecting a drive team**

I would say that previous posters have it just about right.

Skill can be learned… but you’ll need time to do that. You should be first to unbag and first to go for inspection at your event. The sooner you have that full pass, the sooner you can hit the filler line. If you’re in early enough, you just might be able to get 2-3 matches in a row.

Communication, on the other hand, is difficult to learn. If you find a drive team combination that appears to read each other’s minds, you probably have a good drive team.

Cool under pressure… goes without saying.

The COACH should be the one to take the heat from everybody else that’s aimed at the drivers. Ideally, the coach has some experience… or not… but needs a thick skin.

And finally… know the rules. The drive team should know the rules inside and out, specifically the Game and to a lesser extent the Tournament sections. And the Q&A as well, at least anything pertaining to those sections.

At this point, you’re at best a week from your event? Pick the guy with experience, and then pick mature, level headed people that can work with the experienced guy under pressure. Don’t pick anyone who doesn’t know the rules. Work on this aspect of your team for next year.


Next time, build 2 robots. Bag one, practice with the other. See who are the best drivers by practicing with the practice bot. For now just practice with previous year robots and see who is the best/most comfortable.

This is definitely discussed a lot over the seasons. See below thread for an example:

We don’t necessarily pick our drivers for the best driving skills. Our drivers must know the rules of the game well - backwards and forwards. They must be able to communicate with the other drive team members and be able to follow the drive coach’s instructions without discussion or argument (talk about what happened after the match, not during). They must also be GP at all times - we consider them to be our team’s ambassadors… A lot of these skills are more character qualities - they can be learned and practiced. However, we feel that, robot driving can improve during the season with some practice… The other selection criteria are more improvements over years.

The drive coach (which has been a student on our team since a few matches into our rookie year) must be a tough negotiator, who can assert the team’s strengths but is capable of recognizing a good compromise.

The human player must be good at whatever the HP does that year (this year, it may be either tote feeding or littering, depending on your robot design).

All of them must be able to handle the pressure and put a good face forward for the team.

I also agree with the post about making two robots next year. Last year, we had a prototype (Woody, named after his structural elements) and competition 'bot (Buzz, an aluminum-chassis 'bot named after Andy’s other favorite toy). Practicing with Woody was a lot better than not practicing at all, but this year we built two (nearly) identical robots and bagged the incrementally better one. If it hadn’t been for the hours and hours of driver practice between bag and regional, we’d never have figured out that we could pick up and carry and stack two totes at a time on the same level (totally serendipitous) or how to roll totes over (we had flipping as a thing we wanted to do, but the way that works is not at all what we planned). Without those abilities, we would not have been picked up to be part of a championship alliance.