How does your team deal with pit judging?

My question is, how does your team tackle the issue of judges coming to your pit? Do you have designated people, training, binders on hand, etc?

And as for any judges, how much is decided in the pit as opposed to the impact presentation?


Our team has a specific group of trained “Team Representatives” that are scheduled on 30 minute shifts to stay in the pits. We usually hold several meetings for these representatives to train them about the history, efforts, and current state of our team.

In terms of materials, we have an abridged version of our IAP (Impact Award Presentation) presentation on a monitor for students to utilize as visual aid if they need. We also have several copies of our Tech Binder and Summary Business Plan in case judges and/or teams would like to refer to it. Finally, we keep a notebook (which I’ve just heard is officially full since we bought it) to put notes of what we’ve told judges for future training sessions and IAP Team practice.


How often is the typical team rep in the pit for?

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I think for this season, we had a total of 2-3 hours per team rep. Though, we bring around 50 members to competitions and have over 170 registered.
We usually do the shifts in 30 minute increments to give people an opportunity to have breaks. We also have a stream in our pits for them to watch when things are slow as well.


I’m a judge and Judge Advisor. The Impact award is decided in the Impact interview plus supporting submitted information. All other team awards are based on a combination of pit interviews and match observation (where appropriate).


Our team focuses on judging as more of an exercise in effective communication. Our students are awesome (and I think the vast majority of teams have awesome students) who know a lot. They understand the ins-and-outs of their robot to it’s entirety, but may have a hard time articulating this. For this reason, the team this year started treating pit judging just like we treat matches: practice, go over the plan, tackle the challenge, and review what went well and what didn’t after.

We practice pit judging in the shop, and help to teach our students to effectively communicate the work they did. We do this mostly by looking at the criteria of the awards and finding the magic words/phrases that judges tend to look for, and literally just practicing and giving our students feedback on phrasing. This practice works to help build our students confidence as well - they know the answers before we practice, but now they know how to better communicate the answer.

After the end of judging, we ask the students to go through it with us - what did the judges ask, what did you bring up, were there any surprises, how did the interaction go, did you connect with the judges, etc. We provide feedback to them here too as applicable.

Judges expect that people in the pits (not during a teams match of course) will be able to talk about whatever they want to ask about. For this reason we work with all students who will be in the pit to be ready for both technical and team attribute judging, rather than rely on specific students to be available for each type of judging.

For judging materials in the pits, we basically run with the policy “print everything”. We bring our technical binder (3 copies), our business plan (2 copies), our team operations manual, our match strategy binders, our pre/post match checklist binder, our quality binder, our technical epic planning document binder… any document the team produces, we bring it in a binder. You never know what might come up in judged conversation, and we want to be ready to talk about any of it! The binders act as a guide that students can help walk the judges through (open the binder to the intake page, talk about the intake and use the page as a guide to demonstrate it’s features and requirements, etc). In addition, we have 2 monitors in the pit which show our robot CAD, a video that the team was featured in, our pit sponsors, and scouting information on competition day 0.


(I understand that district championships do some things differently, particularly for Engineering Inspiration and Rookie All Star. I’m only experienced with Regional and Worlds judging.)

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Thank you for your thought out and detailed answer!

Usually our technician (which was me this year) is the rep for any technical parts of the robot for judges to go over, and for business, we usually have our business lead as the rep. Iirc our business team did have a business plan and a poster for the sustainability award. In my experience, I completely winged it this year when the judges came by to ask technical design questions

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We try to have people we know will be the pit prepped on anything or the specific parts they worked on. They know how to bounce around as needed.

Mechanical is talking about the ways we design and manufacture something, but XYZ can explain how the programing side comes together.

Oh, you have a question about our pneumatics and suction/vacuum, here is XYZ who took charge and can go more in-depth.

It gets the kids working together, trying to give each other their due credit/chance to maybe fill in something someone missed, and shows how they all worked as a team/come together.

I’ve had some times where we were caught during the queue line by judges and drives just have to take a crack at covering everything they can.

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We try to have everyone that is going to competition to know the basics about what we do and the people who are in the pit know very detailed information.

We have had times where judges came up to the stands to ask us about outreach so we try to make sure everyone knows what we do.