How do I help my team understand why we weren't picked?


I’ve been chewing on this for awhile now and I wanted to ask all of you if you had any ideas.

During alliance selection on Newton I walked onto the floor 90% certain we weren’t going to be picked. I knew that people wanted bots who could help them get 4 rotors and we hadn’t proved we could do that. I also knew that people wanted bots with side auto gears and we also hadn’t proved we could do that. Sure we beat both the #2 and #3 ranked teams and ended up ranked 22nd, sure we could truck anyone (if you think your drive-train is more powerful than ours I challenge you to a pushing match :p), sure we had a 100% climb rate.

But I knew that none of those things (especially rank) mattered if we couldn’t pull of an auto gear or pull our weight for four rotors (we scored max 3 gears in matches where we weren’t playing D). So I fully expected not to be picked, sure it was disappointing but I was quite happy that we just finished our most successful season (robot performance wise) in our 20 year existence.

Some of my team members were upset however. I tried to cheer them up but they felt like we should have been picked (which is totally fair). But it seemed like it really got them down in them dumps.

So… sorry for the long rant… but I suppose what I’m asking is how to I help my team focus on all that we have accomplished rather than what we did not?


Appreciate the little things. There were moments my team was worried we wouldn’t make it to district championship. We celebrated when we were picked at our first event. Our first year at Worlds (2015), we didn’t get picked either but it was an honor to be at Worlds and be able to play with the big teams and even have a shot at working with them.


It looks like your team is headed in the right direction, engineering-wise. This is definitely something to celebrate. While it’s been known to happen that a team goes from not being picked one year to almost powerhouse level the next, the most common way for teams to become competitive is slowly building up a repertoire of correct practices over a few years. If your team is to continue in this direction, they need to never lose hope, and ride the momentum they currently have. The success you had this year can motivate improvements for next year, and every year from now on.

That’s all I got.


Try running a debrief and reflection session with the team. Have your whole team sit down and highlight not only your team’s strengths throughout the season but what you could improve on for the next. Gives people a good mindset for improvement rather than failure.

If you need any help feel free to PM me.


Remember that all but 8 teams ended their season by losing. It is normal to want to focus on that since it is the most recent thing in your mind, but remind yourself of all of the positives. From a quick look at TBA it looks like this is your team’s first time at champs since 2011 which is definitely something to be proud of. Also, playing with your shiny finalist medals should help cheer you up.

As far as not getting picked, it seems like you already have a pretty good understanding of why. If others are having a hard time understanding, showing concrete scouting data and critically rewatching matches can help. I know that I have sometimes thought the robot made 5 goals and then watched the video and realized it only scored 2. It is hard to accurately gauge performance during the excitement of the match, especially for the drive team.


Not trying to kick a team when they’re down, but this is a case where OPR was an accurate indicator.

Team 159 ranked 67th out of 67 teams at Newton in rotor4Engaged relative performance according to Event component OPR.


Our team has been extremely fortunate to be in a picking position or to be picked numerous times over our four-year existence. As one of the mentors for our strategy and scouting team, we recognize that sometimes we just aren’t delivering a consistent enough performance in the areas that other teams are looking-for to warrant being picked. Scouting data drives our decisions for choosing partners. We realize that if we are not picked, it is likely because we are either not meeting the criteria others need, or delivering consistently enough, or both. Your team should feel very proud that you were chosen for playoffs at one regional and were in a position of choosing partners at your second regional, and made it to Champs.


Exactly my thoughts.

It is important that you realize - usually even before the competition - where or not you are likely going to be a top 8 seed in an event. Let’s face it - it’s usually a pretty easy guess since you know how your robot can perform. If you are NOT going to be in those top 8, then it’s time to think very hard about what they are going to look for in a top pick. Very, very rarely do teams pick other teams who have played defense. Your stats simply won’t justify taking the chance.

I speak from experience. Going into Champs in St. Louis, we had a shooter on our bot. It wasn’t much of a shooter since we added it at States, but there was a real possibility we could get it working enough to make some shots in auto. But we KNEW that we weren’t a good enough shooter to be in the top 8. So that shooter got ripped off the robot on Wednesday and saved us 27 pounds. It made us that much faster on the field, and that much quicker on the climb. It also focused our team like a laser beam on what we knew would be important for us to get picked. Running gears like a demon, climbing every time, and hitting autos.

It was a hard decision but it was very much the right one to insure that we got some looks from other scouting teams on Daly.


You definitely need to have an incredible, or at least a consistent auto. The picking teams need to be able to count on a certain level of play. I watched your matches and you had great pushing power! But auto is key key key.


So, as many people have pointed out, focus on the good from this season and look ahead to next season. Also though make sure your team is light-hearted enough about the whole thing to move on quickly and rather painlessly, this is after all just a game we are all playing and there will be another round. From someone who understands questionably not getting picked (we ranked 11th at a comp in 2014 and weren’t picked) it definitely is not the worst thing that could have happened. When we weren’t picked back in 2014 we came back in 2015 with something to prove, and we did, 2015 was our best year since 2010.

It sounds like you already have a good idea of what could have been better this year so take that and analyze next year’s game with those thoughts in mind and remember what could have been better and make it better. If you are not sure how to make it better please reach out to the rest of the community, we are ready and willing to help! Also reach out to your local mechanical hobbyist community, whether it be trains, cars, or various flying objects, they all use a ton of similar stuff and similar practices and can give you good ideas.

One last thing to corroborate what janette38 said, our best years have been ones where we had consistent, flexible, and valuable auto routines. (notice the plural)


I find that it always helps to go back and look at the data post-competition and honestly evaluate your performance against other teams in your division / competition, especially when not being picked. Then sit down with your team and do a full team post-competition debrief - let everyone get everything out on the table, use the data to honestly evaluate yourself, and then make a plan in the off-season for improvement.

You could use an off-season event as a target to improve your current robot’s capabilities. If you want to be a better gear scorer, look at how other teams did it this year and modify your robot. Same with fuel and climbing. If it’s driver / operator training, you have a lot of time to just practice now too.

The off-season starts now and it’s when great teams are made by putting in the work to learn, train new members, improve their processes, etc.


Things aren’t always clear cut picking wise. I had to explain to kids why even though our last match we scored 8 gears (1 of those in auto) and climbed we didn’t get picked over much lower ranked teams. For us it was because on day one we were incredibly inconsistent. Sure we got our problems sorted out but I can’t blame other teams for not assuming that.

One thing to help in the future though is have the kids make a pick list, even if they have no chance of being an alliance captain. Be sure to put yourself on there, they might find that they wouldn’t pick them, kinda makes it easier to swallow.

That said, we won an event and didn’t make it to World’s. My kids would kill to lose in St Louis.


It’s okay for them to be disappointed; it simply means they are deeply invested in what they are doing. If that turns to anger, it’s another matter.

A helpful exercise is to create your own pick list based on data. Ranked #22, this is only an exercise in understanding why teams made the choices they did. Unlike Hub City, where we made you part of our alliance, defense was secondary to cycling gears.

When the team is ready, use this experience to focus on goals for the off-season. Go to an off-season event. Tweak your robot to improve autonomous and gear cycling. Let the underclassmen step up to do all the work under the guidance of the graduating seniors. Do you need to add sensors to make autonomous more consistent? What part of your gear cycling is inefficient? Make it better.

Lots of people will help, including me. Just send me a private message at My team and I would love to help you make those incremental improvements.


Make sure the students understand that it was based on your team’s performance. Too often I hear “oh we didn’t get picked because the alliance captains were stupid” or something like that, which just pushes the problem onto someone else instead of acknowledging the things you could improve on to get picked in the future.

I know this because I’ve done it. “Oh why would that captain pick them, they’re objectively worse than us”. Except that we don’t have the same data, strategy, or past experience that they do.

One last thing is to acknowledge the limits of your dataset. When most teams scout, they pay better attention to their own team’s performance than the other teams on the field. We had a match at Long Island where our scouts were watching us play instead of the robots they were supposed to be scouting. We noticed that our data said that our opponents got a total of 6 gears scored, when in reality, they hit four rotors and trashed us. (Having match video to watch to re-scout matches occasionally can help with this). Usually, wherever our data says we are, I try to lower us about 2 spots to account for this (it was especially egregious this year with it being difficult to scout gear scoring.)

  1. Help them create a list of successes and failures this season.

  2. Build an offseason robot with the corrected failures, and maybe practice a more advanced mechanism or a more simple one depending on how you did this season. Did you go too simple? Did you stretch yourself too far?

  3. Remember said successes and failures next season.

Turning your disappointment into action this offseason will be the most rewarding thing you and your team can do.


Sometimes, logic and passion don’t jive. Especially during or immediately following a long competition. Allow them to sit with their disappointment for a while and let it settle. Then, use that as a motivational learning experience, implementing some of the excellent suggestions offered in this thread and encouraging them to come up with their own.

20 years or 2 years, 10 years or 5 - lessons like these are tough ones but, they are valuable. They will figure it out with your guidance.



One thing we did Friday night before the draft was do our own mock draft. I took 8 kids and assigned them to be the drafter for teams 1 through 8. Then we conducted a draft with our scout data. After each pick I made them say why they made that pick.

I think the main 3 benefits of doing this are:

  1. 8 kids get to practice drafting for the next time we do draft and gave us a baseline to compare to the actual draft.
  2. It gives the kids who scouted all day a chance to become consumers of their data and reflect on why and the quality of what they produced.
  3. It really highlighted where we stood relative to the entire field of teams before the draft.

We did something similar after our last regional but doing it after the draft is a different experience.


I’ve been in a similar mindset before. Perhaps my thread from 2009 will help you out :slight_smile:

Here’s another from 2013 that’s similar:


There is a lot of good advice in this thread, but I think you may have answered you own question…

Make that list! What went right? What did you accomplish that no other team was able to? Who stepped up to the plate to handle certain tasks? What great ideas are in the works? Etc.

Besides you are not the only team to go through this sort of thing. Heck we didn’t get picked this year and we were #1 seed in Iowa! It’s really not that bad, there’s next season too, eh?

First of all, everybody’s official season is over at the moment. So you are not missing out on anything (I’ll let you all debate if FoC is part of the real/official season). Second, it’s easy to put the blame on someone/something. Carson had massive issues with the FMS and some other things that were partially our fault, partially technical. It was easy for our team to place some of the disappointment on those things and lay the issue to rest. We knew it was going to be difficult to beat our success last year, so we went in with a realist viewpoint. Just don’t dump the blame on a single member of the team.

If there is still a sour taste in people’s mouths go do something therapeutic/physically destructive that everyone can enjoy. Laser tag, sledge hammer car smash, pizza party, you name it. Just bury the season under the good times you have in the off season.

Skye Leake


Thanks to everyone who provided their input. It was all very helpful and I plan to implement it to the best of my ability. Hopefully we’ll just keep getting better.