GP, Ramming, and Practice

I am one of the most outspoken supporters of physical, defensive play, and will continue to be an outspoken supporter of it. That should only serve to show how serious of a problem I view it as.

There are times for hard contact defense, and there are times where it shouldn’t happen. Namely amognst those times are practice matches. You gain nothing by winning, and are penelized nothing be losing. The true point of practice matches is to test and get practice. By playing defense on another bot you are denying them a chance to test and practice effectively. IF you are testing a defensive mechanism, such as a blocking arm or autonomous mode, that’s one thing, but otherwise you have no excuse for playing hardcore phsyical defense. The only results that can stem from that is damage and low scoring matches.
I won’t mention team numbers, but here are a few examples from Peachtree today of horribly innapropriate actions of defensive acts. After having their shots blocked by the other bot, a team retaliates by pushing them all the way across the field, onto their ramp, and when the opponents try to force their way off of the ramp, they tip over.
In another match, one alliance has far more offensive potential than the other. Instead of just playing superior offense and testing shooters, herders, etc, the defensive alliance repeatedly rams the opposing alliance’s biggest offensive threat.
In another match, there are 4 robots in front of one ramp. Instead of allowing the action to diffuse, one bot attempts to push another onto its ramps, causing that robot to tip over.
In the second match (practice matches are held in batches of 2), that team rams the same team it tipped hard into the wall, causing it to be disabled for the remainder of the match.

Two words, Gracious Professionalism. Learn them, Respect them, Live them.

I agree with you to a certain extent but then again a practice is supposed to be practice for a real match in real situations where this will really happen and you must learn to deal with it at some point or else you will get pushed around during matches. You can practice functionality outside of matches and accuracy maybe in one or two practice matches if the other team agrees with your plan but communication is key. good luck at competition

I do not think by hitting other robots in practice is a good thing. practice is to work out your bugs of the robot and you can not do that by getting hit from other robots. I can see the last practice match you might try to push another robot to see how you stand up to them but to do any harm in anyway to the other robots during practice is very wrong.

You have to wait until the real game to show how strong you are :slight_smile:

We do like defense but not during the practice round avoid any contact if possible but if hit then all bets are off.

I agree with Lil Lavery, during practice there is no need for defensive measures. What you should be focusing on is testing your robot. Like was said is you are defensive, try and find another defensive robot to match up against. Its always helpful and GP if you go talk with your opponents as well as your alliance before the match. This way everyone on the field can know what’s going on and can accommodate for people wanting to test certain things. Also remember you don’t have to have a backbot on Thursday so please take that into consideration as well.

Informing those that are on the field at that time is the best way to go about doing things. That way everyone is on the same page and everyone can test out their robots. ITS JUST PRACTICE. Remember those words. You have all day Friday and Saturday to prove yourself, let Thursday be for tweaking.

There’s a saying that applies here, “practice what you play!” In a game that requires a full period of defense, it would be foolhardy to do otherwise.

On the other hand, cheap shots on the practice field should not be taken kindly to. I’m sure the refs will make a mental note of them as they anticipate the main event.

If you want to play defense then play it by herding a buch of balls fromthe floor or the Human player. From a programmers stand point thursday is very important. Programmers need to see what the robot is doing in order to change it. If we are continuously rammed or pushed around (even in a way that is totally legal) then it is difficult to tell if every thing is working.

It is extremely important to atleast have your early practice matches. If every thing goes well and all the robots in a match are working then all 6 partners can decide to play it just like it would really be played. Practice day is for tweaking, you need to let teams do that.

Some defensive measures are okay to test (for example, you want to see if your robot is capable of blocking other robot’s shots). However excessive defense and playing nothing but it for the entire practice match (which robs the opposing team of practice time) is completely unncessary. I have a personal experience with too much defense in practice, last year our robot was rammed so hard by another robot that it bent part of our drive sprockets at about a 30-40 degree angle. In my opinion it is rather unsporstmanlike to damage an opponents robot on practice day, especially when most teams are already busy fixing self inflicted damage or malfunctioning designs.

As a ref at Pittsburgh last year I can tell you that us ref’s paid little attention to the robots. We were still trying to streamline our calls, and understand the rules as best as we could. I would’nt rely on ref’s on thursday to take note or robots simply because they are busy still learning the rules.

As for Lil’ Lavery, 100% on the nose with this. Defense in practice is so low; for those teams who didn’t have a chance to test prior to ship and thursday being thier only day to test, those teams who built their bot in probably 3 weeks with the mindset of defense and who have had the other 3 weeks to practice driving should respect the teams who need to comb out their robot. What satisfaction do you defensive teams get?

I know that my team has tested our defensive capability during practice matches but we did it in a controller manner. We would usually ask our alliance partners or somebody on the opposing team if it was okay if we play defense/test our strength against them. Then at a prescribed time we’d go and try to push each other or we’d attempt to play defense on them. As a team that desperately uses every single practice opportunity we get(we’ll be on our 3rd or 4th major drive train set up by the end of our second regional) We also understand that some teams really want to test their defense capability. Usually any team we ask to practice with or on is a robot that seems pretty sure of itself already. A team that is still working out the kinks is not fair play in my book.

I’m going to play devils advocate here.

While I tend to agree with lil Lavery (see my other posts on in brutal play), playing defense is part of the game. As a matter of fact, most winning alliances this year have played very brutal defense. If you cannot play offense while someone is hounding you defensively, then you will not do well this year. Therefore, I would suggest you thank those that are showing you what your capabilities are in **REAL GAME ** situations, rather than asking them to ‘take it easy’ on you.


At the FLR there was a goal setup by the pit area that teams could use to test their light trackers and shooters.

Practice on thrusday should be like practice for a football or basketball game - you sort of play, but you dont put your own team-mates in the hospital in a practice game.

The matches are setup like real games, except for the time. If FIRST didnt want this time to be ‘like a real match’ they could have let the teams on the field for 10 minutes to do what they want.

There is a simple answer for this problem. Make up yellow signs or triangles or something you can put on your robot. If your robot has not yet been inspected, or you are still missing stuff (like bumpers) on thrusday, you put the big yellow triangle on your bot, and all the teams are told this means “NO CONTACT!”

Then teams who want to mix it up on thursday and see how well they can push each other around will know which bots want to play, and which ones are being tested and debugged.

I agree with Lil Lavery and there should be no ramming during pratice matches. Yes, I totally agree that it is not fair and not showing GP.

I would like to add that all of this is for “FUN” “SERIOUS” " "COMPETITION” and some seem to forget that all the teams put countless hours of work into their bot to COMPETE, each of us holding great personal pride in our creations. (For most of us this is FUN and SERIOUS)

Now for the COMPETITION side of things! “FUN” & “SERIOUS”

I don’t think anyone will argue the value developing a strategy that brings out our bots abilities is important to refine. When it comes to competition we all push hard and strive to be the best. That is what it is all about. Excitement! (FUN) Gracious Professionalism

GP (SERIOUS) is key for all to enjoy this side of competition! Ramming during practice or even during the FINALS and playing defense are two different things that accomplish two different goals. Both give you a REPUTIATION…Good or BAD

All I suggest that once a bot is down (tipped over, disabled…) it accomplishes nothing by ramming it. Defense is great but broken bots make for empty spots on the field…

We learned first hand what it feels like to be rammed continuously while being down. It hurts. Not the bot but our pride. We can fix anything and get back out on the field, but fixing a REPUTATION takes longer both on and off the field!

I wish All Teams the best in the continuous game of LIFE

During the first 20 sec of a practice match last year, a robot rammed us while we were disabled in the human player loading station. It ripped a tread off our bot and we were unable to continue the practice match. After the match, the referees talked to their drivers. I applaud the refs for communicating that this behavior is unacceptable and would garner penalties (30+ pts) in a real match. I encourage other refs to provide similar feedback based on practice matches.

Some defense is needed during the practice matches… oUr robot works perfectly in the shop, we make 9/10 shots. We got on the field, and even the slightest pushing was throwing our accuracy off. I’d rather find out about this on Thursday, when we can refine our strategy to deal with it, then on Friday or Saturday, when the matches actually count.

Ramming shouldn’t be done Thursday, but if you are getting pushed around, then the other team is probably helping you figure out what you need to do to counter it.

Reading through the above posts, I agree with many of the points being made from both sides. However, I do want to bring up a few points, coming from the point of view of a historically “defensive” team:

  1. Robots playing defense need time to practice too. Good defensive driving requires just as much finesse and practice as does offensive driving/operating.

  2. Robots playing offense do need to take defensive play into consideration when practicing. These drivers/operators need to have practice responding to defensive play, which will certainly occur during official matches.

However, the exceptions to the aforementioned points are as follows:

  1. If a defensive robot wants to practice their defensive play during a practice match, they should notify the opposing alliance to make sure that they are prepared and willing to take defensive play against them. They should leave offensive robots alone if the team says that they wish to practice without defense in order to get their basic systems up and running.

  2. Robots playing offense, who need to get their basic systems up and running (i.e. a robot that was not yet finished upon shipment, and needed to be tested) or are trying to debug, should not have to be faced with defensive play. Therefore, it is their responsibility to ask the opposing alliance not to play defense against them.

If you felt that your robot was being unfairly targeted by defensive play during a practice match, next time, talk to the other alliance about letting you have a chance to debug.

While I do believe it is appropriate for robots to practice their defensive maneuvers, I don’t think it is appropriate when it prevents another team from debugging. But after an offensive robot is up and running without defensive interference, I think it would be wise for them to try practicing with defensive interference. That way, they can develop their own methods of repositioning and maneuvering so as to minimize the effect that defense may have on them. It is just as important for them to practice avoiding defensive interference as it is for them to practice shooting balls in the goal without intrusion.

– Jaine

I agree with Lil Lavery and there should be no ramming during pratice matches. Yes, I totally agree that it is not fair and not showing GP.

I always hate picking on individual people by quoting them, but I wanted to mention that I think the term “GP” and “gracious professionalism” are thrown around much to frequently on the forums. I don’t think it is ever healthy to take black and white stances - making broad generalizations over a fairly complex subject. Labeling a broad action - such as defense during practice rounds - as “unfair” or “un-gracious professionalism”, can be dangerous.

What if a team playing defense against an offensive robot was unaware of the fact that the offensive robot wanted to be left alone so that it could debug its shooter? I wouldn’t rush to label this as “un-GP” behavior. Rather, I would label this as being simply unaware of the situation. This is why I propose that alliances talk to each other about whether or not they should play defense during each practice round. That way, you can tell the opposing robot to leave you alone so that you can score.

Plus, I think there are times when it is appropriate to play defense during practice matches. If an offensive robot states that they would like to practice WITH defensive interference, it is perfectly GP if the defensive robot chooses to play defense against them. If there were a rule stating “ALL DEFENSE DURING PRACTICE MATCHES IS BAD” then many teams would be deprived of much needed practice.

So again, I am stating that there are times when it is appropriate, and times when it is not appropriate.

Broad generalizations are not good representations of reality.

– Jaine

ehhem… Excuse me while I take my soapbox…

Practice day’s exist to give all teams a taste of competition. They do not exist soley as a refinment and calibration period, though some teams may choose to use them as such. There are also no restrictions on gameplay during these periods. Because they are not scored or recorded however, if you wish to be left alone during the period, it would make a lot of sense to talk to the teams playing, and tell them your intentions. I’m sure all teams would avoid you if you simply asked. However, a team that plays within all constraints of the game, even during a practice match, should not be persecuted or be looked down upon because they didn’t use their time as you wanted them to.

Gracious professionalism is, when possible, being considerate towards your opponent. However, this does not include seeking your team out to see what you want to do. Not every team knows your shooter needs calibration entering a practice match.

Breaking Robots== Bad.

Playing Your Game==Good.

Just have to find the happy medium!

Pushing or ramming of other robots during the practice round without their permission is simply unacceptable. Period. I don’t care if you think they are ready, I don’t care if you think playing tough is important in the game.

The bottom line is, you do not know the condition of the other robots on the field unless you talk to the other teams about it. Certain parts of the robots might still be being worked on, wires might be loose, batteries might not be tired down completely, parts might go flying if your robot hit them without warning, robots might not have been inspected at all.

Ask the other team if they want to play rough. Go ahead if they say yes. I don’t really care what you do as long as both teams know what’s happening.

The bottom line is, talk it through first. Don’t make any assumption. I don’t care what you think is fun, or important. Other people might not see it that way. Play rough during actual rounds when everyone expect it to happen.