Driving Experience

I was wondering how much experience some other drivers/drive teams have in competition. Being a rookie driver this year I found driving a bit stressful but extremely fulfilling for the team after we won the SBPLI Regional with help from 572 and 870. Also if anyone has any good tips or just want to talk about your driving experiences.

I’ve been on the playing field for three years, driving the last two of them. I advise dancing, and just having a good time. It’s a game remeber.

I have been on the team for 3 years, I started in 2003 as the arm driver, but when our arm made us top heavy we took it off and I then became the human player. 2004 I controlled the arm system, but drove the robot in 5-6 matches. This year my last year I controlled just the arm system. So it is up to me and the main driver Jon to train a new rookie driver that will be on the team for at least another 3 years.

You know…I saw this thread and I was like “Hey I could say great things aboud Chris and Liz…” then I look at who started it and it’s you! :mad:

Every team at some point or another will have to have “rookie” drivers, eventually the drivers graduate. But that’s why we practice before the competition!

And you’ve been doing great Chris! :slight_smile:

We havn’t had a set structure for drivers and what not, just people sign up, we have tests, and the best people get it. This year there was a lack of people somehow. So our head machinist ended up driver, I became arm operator. We had another machinist be our coach. Human player was the one thing that we had plenty of volunteers for.

But of course on thursday, a lot of people complained about them wanting to drive but never getting the chance, so we got to the practice arena, let them have a go, and the most promising go in on a match on thursday. Well the match was totaly botched, so now we were “stuck” with being driver and arm operator. (we really didn’t want to be driver or arm operator at first…)

No driver “legacy” for us…

I drove several years in high school.
My main pieces of advice:
-Soft hands
-Drive it like you stole it
-Know the game inside and out
-listen to your coach
-communicate with the other team
-7 in the goal, none on the floor*

Driving is stressful but very rewarding, the 2 minutes of a match can whiz by at the speed of light, or they can be the longest 2 minutes of your life.

*This is a reference to sweet repeat several years back. Only people on my team or people that have heard the story really get that piece of advice:)

This is my 1st year driving at a competition but i have driven previous years robots since i joined the team. I find that on the field if you don’t make it a big deal you are less stressful. I know last year i got really nervous at Midwest when i was the human player for a match because i made it such a huge deal. This year however I’m on the field as calm as can be because I know that even if we don’t win I will still have fun. The most stressful times for me are just after the match waiting for the score. I guess it is just up to how you deal with it.

Our drivers are both rookie drivers. It was hard because the first time they got to work together was at our first regional. After a day of practice matches, they were more confident and their confidence and ability improved after each match and now they’re as good as any.

Well this has been my first year as the main driver actually driving at the official competitions but I have driven since 2003 at the off season competitions. The best advice I can give is get as much driving time you can for practice, if that means driving around the shop with an old robot or if you are fortunate enough to have a practice bot it is good just to get time behind the sticks so it comes more naturally to you during a real match.

Mike M.

Hi. Before I graduated I was the driver for our team for all 4 years during high school (120+ FIRST matches not including off-season events). Now I came back and we have two brand new drivers and I am now their “unofficial” official driving coach. Anyway, I know that your first year driving can be a very stressful experience, especially if your are a freshman and really don’t know what in the world your doing. Anyway some good advice that I always tell our two drivers is to just PLAY YOUR GAME. If you go out there succeed in accomplishing your goals, whether personal or within the alliance, you succeeded. No matter what the score was and people will recognize you and your robot for that. Driving and operating the robot becomes easier with time, the more you drive the more comfortable you are with the robot, your second driver and your coach. Everything will soon run like a well oiled machine. Good luck and keep up the good work, cant be too bad if you already won a regional :wink:

I spent my freshman and sophomore years as the Operator (ie button/arm driver). I was the driver in my junior year (only went to Canadian Super Regional) and still have that position this year.

Driving requires first knowing how to use the robot without thinking about it whether you’re going forwards or in reverse. It should be like walking - completely subconcious. Beyond that, it’s being able to handle the pressure and to think clearly while listening to a coach who does his job scouting the field and an operator who has worked with you either in competition or in practice. It’s a team effort. My drive team consists of me (4 years on field), Alex the Operator (3 years on field), and Shu the Coach (3 years on field). Nine seniors and two juniors are leaving the team after this year so I expect to have prospective drivers practice with this year’s robot a lot both this school year and in the fall. An offseason competition would be a great help too in understanding the pressure and how to feel unconstrained by a time limit. Just some thoughts.

as someone already mentioned, soft hands, and know your robot and its limits. there was a nice quote a long time ago tho,
a good driver will know the robots limits and a great driver’s robot wont have limits . or sumthing of the sorts. i think,

This is my Third year on the team and Second as the main driver. Last year i kinda got left with this position; however, now i enjoy the thrill and pressure. For rookie drivers: “Dont care about the results, just stick to what you do the best, DRIVE!”. For me, when i drive, somehow the crowd is irrelevant. The 2 minutes pass very quickly and its hard for me to notice that i am in an arena, driving in front of 1000+ people.

Communication is that key. You four(2 drivers, coach, human player) should act as if you were a single person. The only part thats hard is the wait while waiting in line to play.i Have drove about 30 Matches so far. I plan to take that 50+ this year. Its a great honour for me to be the team Captain and main driver; i hope that i make my team proud. :slight_smile:

I agree soft on the sticks is a good idea and that is why we also programmed in a power gradiant into our controls, making our robot glide on the playing field. I was also wondering if anyone else does like me and has a hard time always seeing what everyone else is doing, although I have gotten significantly better since my first regional.

Revolver, I think “tunnel vision” is something that most drivers encounter. That’s what the coach is there for. In my opinion, the drivers should keep their eyes on the robot, and the coach should be able to watch the whole field and the other robots.

I was the operator for one season, but we (Jordan, the main driver, and I) drove in three preseason events and the whole OCCRA competition, which is something like 4 or 5 competitions. By the time the FIRST competition season came around, we knew what we were doing and managed to do a pretty good job.

I’ve pretty much got it under control and can scope out the surrounding area, although sometimes theres just too much going on to see it all.

I have been an arm operator on my team since my freshman year (last year). I know how it feels to have tunnel vision and try to work with someone who is oblivious to the world around him.

I was wondering how many teams rotate their drivers. We rotated our drivers last year, up until the elimination round, when we combined the two drive teams into one team. This year we are only rotating during practice days, but we still have two completely different drive teams.

We get a little practice before we ship, but not a lot. Practice days help, especially when it comes to strategy.

This year was my first year driving, after being one of our alternating human players last year, i had some experience on the field, but i was nervous first day of matches, because in the practice matches me and the other driver did not do as well as expected, our first day of matches we didnt do to good, but on the last day of qualifying and towards the end of the first day we finally got the hang of it and won 4 in a row on the last day of qualifying matches, (we got the semifinals and we capped the most in our alliance) so i think that regionals actually helped me gain experience and now i kno wat to do at nats and i wont be as nervous, like many of you have said, its just relaxing up there and concentrating, once you can do that, ur set

05-Drive-still going 23 matches so far
06-Sr. year… oh yeah

250-ish matches has taught me a few things
…being a driver isn’t driving fast and pushing hard, it is maximizing the abilities of your robot and operator.
…there is no point in being nervous, it is just a game
…your coach is the real driver, he knows everything that the robot is going to do, the drivers are just there to implement that.


My advice to rookie drivers is to talk with your alliance members before matches. Make a plan that you’re all happy with, otherwise you’ll be unhappy with the results. Case in point: Our team switched drivers half way through the elims and the new rookie driver didn’t coordinate with the two other teams, who I don’t think talked to each other. They both went on defense while our rookie driver tried to give our alliance some actual points. It was our lowest scoring match if memory serves me correctly.

After that match I made sure our team talked with the alliance members before each remaining elim match, and our strategy improved, although our record certainly didn’t. We finished elims 4 wins and 8 losses, 3 of those wins were from our first three matches. We had a lot of people rotating around the driver, operator, and human player spots, but for the last 5 or so matches we locked the positions and had a good combination that scored consistently. It’s weird to be happy with your team’s performance despite losing again and again. Thanks to the Dukes and the High Rollers for seeing through the record.

Rookie drivers: be sure to talk with your alliance members and if you have any questions, ask away. Have fun and before you know it you’ll be reminiscing on CD about your driving days to tomorrow’s rookies.