Drive Team Selection


Hello CD! Kaitlyn from 5943 here.

Our team is currently in the process of trying to pick the right drive team(s). As of right now, we are having people sign up, and then they will be paired with someone else and will get a turn driving and running drills with the robot. With this being our 4th year as a team, we’re still pretty new to everything. So we have a few questions.

  • How does your team pick drivers?
  • How is your driver practice structured?
  • Is it better to practice basic movements, or to have a practice more structured around the year’s game?
  • Do you have a backup drive team?
  • If so, how often do they get to drive at competition?
  • Do you have “specialized” drive teams? (Ex. One group for offense, one group that’s better at defense, etc.)

Any and all information would be of help. Thank you :slight_smile:


Here is the criteria 166 adopted for the 2019 season and further. It’s a mashed up doc of 254’s and 2168’s with some 166 tied in.

Team 166’s Drive Team expectations

I’m happy to answer any questions that you have!

NOTE: In the doc, I mention a content form that selected members have to sign. We won’t be releasing that to the public as it contains sensitive team information.


We generally start training students fairly early in their time, maybe a couple years in. Practice is “here’s the robot, do the tasks” (if we have a robot available).

Cardinal rule: Do NOT switch drive teams at competition regularly. Some teams will DNP you, and your drivers won’t get enough time to be really really good. However, you DO want a backup drive team (individual or group) who has some driving on the practice fields/your shop space, etc. Too easy to lose a driver due to illness or inability to make the competition and not have somebody who can step up; have a backup available.

Practice the game tasks wherever possible–you’ll pick up basic driving as you go.


Both groups are playing with the same robot. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have one group get good at both over the course of an event versus two groups that split stick time?

What if you field your offensive drive team but your mechanisms fail, forcing you onto defense?
What if you field your defensive drive team but a partner needs you to rotate to an offensive role mid-match?

  • I consult with my assistant coach (and also the student coach – if obvious). We mash out where people fit best. They have to apply for up to 2-3 positions. The rubric is mostly in my head by that point, that they are coming to practice and committed, that they show aptitude for learning and communication, that they really want it, and that they are good team members otherwise.

  • I’ll try to do once a week after school through the fall and build, and then also mix in some weekend practice. When we have a working robot, then hopefully having as much time as we can muster. I try to work in some strategy or match watching for those not driving at the moment.

  • Competitive trials are pretty useful. Shows you who really thinks about it. I set up a course that they have to drive, with just some simple objects (drive around weighted bucket 3x & 3x reverse, cross over a small obstacle foward and backwards – small ramp this year, go through a set of chairs behind a white board using vision, push this rolling chair 10 feet, etc. For fun I made two starting lines (also the end line) and told them they could do the task in any order. Made them really think about it. One kids dropped his time from 3+ minutes to 33 seconds in just one afternoon.

  • No. See prior discussions. I have a bad taste from allowing it my first year as Drive Mentor. I know who I would ask generally if they are available. It is probably advisable to have a second person on the drive team that you know is capable of driving. We also don’t have a second robot and so very little extra practice time to devote to a backup.

  • See above.

1 Like

I’ve spent a lot of time refining 1405’s Driver Selection process since joining. It’s become a mix of traditional driver practice, and a job selection process. Students drive their end of the process on their own. I set expectations and provide minimal direction behind that. This ensures students are committed to the role and show some initiative. This includes an application/interview process (application due kickoff day, they schedule their own interview with me within Week 1). After that, we so a test, like most teams. This, combined with standard driver practice and other assessments, helps us pick a drive team.

We do practice almost year-round, including a night dedicated to it during the build season. Its taken a while but team is fully behind and understands the importance of driver practice, and drive team night is “sacred”. A culture like that is important to building a successful drive team. It needs to be something students covet, not just another job. During the off season, practice structure is loose. We practice a variety of things, from basic drills to game-specific tasks and in between. Drivers create their own obstacle course, based on what they feel they need to work on. I provide feedback and insight on their course and during their practice. I track times and results and make a form of a leaderboard. Healthy competition and a competitive environment is also important. When students begin pushing each other to new heights, that’s when you can really start to hit your stride.

We are a smaller team. I establish backups if quantity of applicants support it. Everyone practices their role equally (driver, operator, human player, etc), but once competition hits, we role with one team. I try to keep the set primary drive team in play at all times. Only a serious conduct issue or medical concern would prompt me to adjust that.

I think that pretty much covers the key points. If you have any more questions, let me know.

1 Like

Oh, and one other thing:


At offseason events, try new drivers. If you’ve already identified a primary and a backup, have them split the time 2/3 -1/3, or something like that. If you haven’t, rotate among interested team members that meet the team’s requirements until you find someone that is really good.


Hey, 4911 drive team here.
We pick drivers during the off-season, usually by running driver practices that all people interested can attend. We have a wooden half or quarter field to run drills. Driver and operators are randomly assorted, with each pairing being timed and put in a spreadsheet with drive captain entering qualitative data based on communication and possible improvements.

Typically drills start with basic movements like figure eights, driving up to a precise point quickly (depth perception), or just pathing between the previous season’s scoring objectives but then move on to game strategies we ran during competition season and scoring while under defense, courtesy of the other driver candidates. Later drills involve direction from the driving captain at random points, although typically we structure drive team so that most basic tasks and pathing is arranged by the operator speaking to the driver.

After summer has passed, but before the first off-season event, the drive captain determines which pairing he prefers to work with: a separate pair will be designated as the backup team and compete with the practice robot at off-season events. After each off-season event, the drive captain will reevaluate the teams, and the drive teams may flip as primary drive team. We do not believe in specialized drive teams, as we believe that good offense drivers build the pathing and motor control skills necessary for good defensive driving.

Other things we look out for, aside from performance in drills:

  • Ability to improvise while under pressure: stuff breaks, play defense or figure out how to score with a broken bot.
  • Mechanical/software knowledge: in elims at higher ranked competitions there aren’t always enough buttons to let everyone take their place in fixing and maintaining the robot.
  • Trusting: The driver needs to listen to the operator, and the operator needs to listen to the drive captain.

I’ve had personal experience with swapping the primary driver position with someone else every other match, and I can confirm that for every regular drive team member added, you essentially divide the experience gained per-match by the number of people in that position.

That being said, I do agree that it is always a good idea to get potential drive team members (backups included) on a working robot long before they take over at competitions.

1 Like

If you can’t do it by anything else do it by attendance. it doesn’t matter how talented your drive team is if they aren’t there to practice driving the robot or give input to the programmers.

  1. Pretty haphazardly, honestly. We don’t usually have many students who are interested, and in the past usually one of the mentors would just pick someone. Last fall we tried to have tryouts, but the robot kept breaking so we had to keep pushing it off, and by the time we actually did it there were only a couple kids anyway. We picked our president to be drive coach, but he was super stressed out by it (to the point of feeling physically ill) so we subbed someone else in halfway through our first regional. This is an area we’re trying to improve.
  2. The last couple years we haven’t had much of it; most of our drive team are usually software students and tend to get off-track fixing bugs in the software. i.e. “we thought we could start drive practicing today but something’s catastrophically wrong in the code” or “it’ll be more useful to spend time practicing after we fix the hatch-scoring-height/robot driving crooked/etc”.
  3. Both. If the robot’s not done yet, practice driving last year’s robot around because practicing basic movements and drive team communication is better than practicing nothing. When the new robot’s ready, shift into practicing for the year’s game.
  4. Kinda, we designated one but didn’t really train him or follow up on it.
  5. Hasn’t happened yet, except at an off-season or two.
  6. No. We’d rather give one group of drivers as much practice & field time as possible.
1 Like

Our driver selection process is pretty simple, about week 5 in build season we send out a test for interested students to test there knowledge about game rules. This is just to eliminate people who know nothing about the game, which doesn’t happen very often.
Once our robot is drivable, the student that took the test each get at least one opportunity to try out for the position(s) they want (driver, operator, human player). The mentors watch, take notes, and give scores based on performance. They then meet together to discuss who makes drive team.
As far as backups go, there’s not really a set backup drive team. This year I was backup for everything, but if they needed more than one backup they could just grab someone who tried out that did well.
We really use off season Competitions as a way to get interested students time behind the glass. So there’s my 10 cents for ya.


After letting everyone who’s interested get an few hours of practice, a combination of speed/scoring drills and a bit of time working with the drive coach to make sure they can follow directions. The drive coach and head coach collaborate on the selection(s). Often, initial selection is two people for each position, and the determination of primary/backup is deferred a few days.

Some of each. It starts off more as basic movements, but becomes more structured time and less movements over the days and weeks of drive practice. Sometimes, also some “oddball” exercises to keep things interesting and improve driver confidence - in 2018, Gavin would occasionally run the vault stuffing drill in reverse - getting cubes from the exchange and building the pyramid. Third benefit - it made a great demo shtik!

We have alternates for each position for contingency purposes, but not a “backup team” per se.

At in-season competitions, rarely for drivers, occasionally for human players. Backups get a lot more stick time at offseason events.

One time 3946 had two drivers who drove for different functions. It worked a hair better than either of them would have when things went well, but it was a hot mess when the going got rough or alliance strategy intruded on our processes; no not recommend at all.


-For selection process we usually have members from the previous year maintain a position out of the 7 available (4 DT 3 Pit Crew). We do mostly a drive practice type of selection with time trials and things along those lines. Usually the our primary driver (chassis and actual driving control) gets chosen first and they usually work with others to determine the best possible secondary driver (controls not given to primary) For coach and the other positions it’s mostly whoever wants to do it gets to do an interview and the decision is partially made by mentors partially by the drivers depending on the position
-Drive practice mostly consists of practice runs with cycle times, experimenting with new strategies, testing the robot’s capabilities, getting familiar with the robot, etc
-I’d say it is better to practice more structured around the year’s game
-We have backup members for drive team, but not a whole backup team. One person is the backup for both drivers and the other is a backup for Technician, Human Player, and Coach
-Usually the backup never drives at competitions unless a systems check has to be done and the regular drive team is not around. Best case scenario the backups never have to be used during the season.
-We keep one drive team, often times it does not look very good if a team switches out drive team members on rotations


I just going to hit this topic. @Kaitlynmm569
Most general exercises can be adapted to driving for a specific game. The true goal of practicing driving is to do it fast and fluid. So the more general the techniques are the better, but they still need to be applied to situational problems that only come from actual driving during comp or a scrim.

Offensive Techniques

J hooks - 971 loved these

90 degree/7 shaped turns

Acute angle turns - 971 loved doing these too

z or s shaped turns - basically 2 acute angle turns

For example

Also figure 8’s are great for getting comfortable turning.

Defensive driving
Practice collisions.
I’m talking both t-boning and getting t-boned. Also figure out how to escape them.

Modified Pit maneuvers into t - bones - Maybe? probs not very practical