drivers\coach selection

hi CD!
I was wandering recently how teams select decide who will serve as a driver\coach for the competitions… so tell me- how does your team select the right students?

We ask who’s all interested, then we write the names down. We group these names based on what they want to be (Driver, Operator, HP, Coach), then group them together. They then practice their specific task (drivers would drive, operators would operate, etc.) in an area. Our Head Mentor and Captain then decides who should be the main drive-team, as well as backup teams based on how well they performed their given job.

A lot of teams have a test to see how well the students know the rules before they can even try to become drive team members, but we don’t. Imo, I think getting to know the robot and practicing your rule is more beneficial.

This. This right here is an excellent way to go about determining the drive team. You’ll notice that few of the criteria has anything to do with how good you are at driving. I don’t remember who said what I’m about to say here but someone said once that once the robot is built, there’s not much else most of the team can do except sit back and watch because at that point it’s all in the drivers’ hands to do well. So, picking the drivers who can handle being on the drive team well are the ones who should be chosen to represent your team.

I think it is important to note that this works for 254 (and other top end teams) because they have a full practice field, practice robot and a lot of time to practice. For a team that doesn’t have a practice robot or field, and may just have an afternoon to practice before their first event, I would put more stock in pure diving ability.

Yeah that is a good thing to consider as well. It ultimately depends on the team and what works for them. I’m not sure what kind of team the person who started this thread comes from or what kind of resources they have, but if, like you said, they only have maybe a day or two prior to the event to practice driving, then yes, pure driving ability would make more sense at that point.

Great article that ties in with what Karthik, from Team 1114, has said.

Students apply. Take a rules test and a drivers test. The robot coach and team leadership interview the students(there is more at stake than just how well you drive. You are the face of our team which is in the FIRST HOF. We do not need someone out there burning bridges left and right and sabotaging over 25 years of hard work for personal glory) and they make their choice from there.

How much do teams practice per week during the season?

As much as possible given schedules and availability of practice space.

Typically we will make a rules test, and also conduct interviews.

Once people have taken those we make a short list for round 2, typically 50-75% of applicants, based on their scores and interviews for each position. They do a general skills test for their chosen positions.

For drivers that is pretty game specific, if it’s an open field then there will be high speed control and defense tests, if it’s crowded there will be lots of tight driving in spaces.

Manipulators are paired up with mentors or students who are experienced at driving and then coached and judged based on their response time and ability to communicate and follow directions.

Human players are given a sort of skills challenge. For example this year it was three different challenges. The first was rolling boulders on command, then rolling boulders so that they would get to a certain spot by x number of seconds. (I would say 12 seconds, and they would have to wait until they were ready to throw it, etc.)

Finally 3 or so students are selected for each of the drive team positions for final selection. All of these students have the skills and personality to make it on the right drive team. They are paired up and have to work together to control the robot (usually a prototype robot or a previous robot) through specific tasks. From this the best group is picked based on chemistry and skills. A fair balance of skills on the robot is also considered but is not a decision driver.

We test our candidate drivers in our offseason competitions. By the last competition we have a few pairs of drivers to choose from. Students are evaluated on their general maturity, response under pressure, ability to follow instructions, and then raw driving ability. Students, even those who are introverted and don’t want to speak up, are encouraged to drive during quals no matter what their skill level is. We see the broken robots as an opportunity to train the build team. :smiley:

We then plan for what training and level of practice is needed in the upcoming season. Student pairs are not broken up at that point - if one driver doesn’t work out, neither does the other. We have had a couple of years where a single student is part of multiple pairs, like this year. Before the first event we have narrowed down the drivers to two sets, choosing the best one for the first event. Yet final selections are never ‘final’ until elims at the first official event.

We have even had some week 6 surprises in recent years. In 2015 we tossed the entire plan in favor of adapting to what our students students proved they were capable of at the event, which turned out to be quite different than both the offseason events and the build season.

Seconded! We rarely field a drive team at a regional who we haven’t competed with at an off-season or two. We learn an enormous amount about how they work under pressure that way and what running them at a competition would be like.

You don’t need to just practice your drivers during the season or on the current year’s robot. The driver and manipulator need to learn to work well together. The problem of controlling a robot driving towards yourself, and the various other challenges of controlling a robot apply to previous year’s robots. Drive those too!

Everyone else has pretty much covered it. Only thing I’d want to add is be just as selective when choosing back ups. Make sure they know the controls just as well as the 1st stringers and that they have some practice. We’ve had to use back ups before and thankfully our backups were just as qualified to drive.

Good responses to this thread. Some things I wish to add that weren’t mentioned:

  • Don’t rank drivers based on rules test scores. They have time to learn the rules. What’s more important are their other attributes mentioned in 254’s driver selection doc.
  • One way to to test all these abilities is to create a mock game, make rules for this mock game, and have a mock simulation to test these basic abilities. When I was on Team 2052, 2 mentors and I came up with a mock game and tested all the drive team applicants in the mock simulation. The results were very helpful- we were able to progress heavily on the attributes that all our applicants had and we were choose the best candidate for each drive team position. The mock game simulation doesn’t even need to be robot related in order for it to be effective.

For 2876, the rules test is simply a benchmark, as rules can be taught: if they get a 70 or above, they’re eligible. It’s just a checkmark, and unless someone really gets 100%, I don’t consider it farther than that.

We currently don’t have the resources to have a running practice bot, so tryouts have to be really quick. We usually just do a communication test (if you look up “Destination Imagination Instant Challenges” those are usually where I get my ideas from) and a practical test, and both scores are weighed equally.

Another huge consideration many teams don’t consider is personality conflicts. Drive teams are going to spend a lot of time together, and fighting is often inevitable. But, if members dislike each other from the start, that’s bad.
We have more information about our processes here,

Ah yes - I forgot about the rules. I don’t quiz the kids on the rules. The kids take it upon themselves to quiz each other, but nothing is formal. Until week 6 the potential drivers are usually busy building and testing the robot within the rules, so they’ve forgotten the fine details of high-level strategy/rules by then.

They’re reminded of rules by competition time in one form or another - usually through practice, drills, and by watching Week 0 events. As the drive coach and team strategy nut, I make sure they know them by the time they hit the field.

What I think has been lacking in this thread so far is team chemistry and the importance of the building the team in the right order.

For example who is really in charge when it comes to a match. Is it the Drive Coach, the Head Driver? If you don’t know you need to figure it out. A persons ability to respond to commands really doesn’t mean much unless when your testing them its coming from the person who will be giving them those instructions during the match. I.E. Unless its the actual drive coach giving them the instructions during the test then it has little applicable value to building your team.

Building the team chemistry is key, because even if you have the best people for the individual task in a certain role, that doesn’t mean that they will click well as a team. And then you face the decision of who to replace. Which is why knowing who the the key of the drive team is really going to be important.

And once you get that team then individual team building should really be taking place. The driver and co-driver should be so in-tune and know what the other person is thinking that they shouldn’t really have to talk to each other during a match. They should have spent enough time together learning how the other person thinks that the execution of tasks across the robot is fluid. And in that same manner the coach should have to know how both the driver and co-driver think in order to be the most effective when communicating. All these things come from team building.

On a cautionary note the drive team could become almost cliquish in this manner because they could be so in-tune with each other that any outside presence could be distracting and harmful to the function of the drive team. Whether you’re okay with this or not is up to the individual team. The best way to prevent this, I believe, is to incorporate your scouting and strategy teams in practice sessions and some of the team building activities, not all. this will help alleviate some of the cliquish nature while still retaining a great since of drive team cohesion.