How much scouting should a team that doesn't expect to pick do


At this year’s CowTown Throwdown offseason competition, our team (1777) ended up as the 7th seed alliance captain. We didn’t expect to be in the top 8 as a switch-only robot, so our scouting data wasn’t as in-depth or as well-analyzed as it should have been. Because of this, we panicked during alliance selections due to our unpreparedness.

Even if you don’t expect to be picking in alliance selections, it’s always a possibility, and you should be prepared for that. Try to at least make some general “this team is good, that team is less good” notes to reference in case you end up ranking higher than you expect.


I suggest starting them off with something WORTH scouting (at least in their eyes)
It may be harder to get a new team motivated to scout for a potential pick. Only through it all away if you’re not picked.

Start out small. (which after writing this, is not small strategically)
Look at the schedule and where possible, have the team scout the next teams you will be playing with and against.
When they meet up with their next alliance members they will have more information than most teams seem to have.

You can come in with info like “hey their alliance only has one bot capable of the rocket have our weakest scorer defend them”
"you guys rocked it on the last rampbot, you should have no problem on ours :wink: "

A lot of times I see alliances meet up and the first thing out of their mouths is “ok, what can you do?”

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My team has a pretty robust scouting system that provides pre-match data for each qual match, yet I still typically open conversations with alliance partners with a “what do you guys like to do?” or another similar question. It’s just a convenient way of opening up the strategy conversation in a way that invites all teams to participate in the discussion.


We’ve always created at least basic scouting lists since we were rookies. At least 2 of our 4 years so far we were picked by an alliance captain who had no clue who they wanted to pick after us, so they just picked who we told them to.

Definitely start at least basic scouting - it keeps students engaged in matches and may be more helpful than you expect.


Scouting has benefits besides alliance picks. You can use scouting data to plan strategies in quals matches. You can play around your alliances strengths and minimize your weaknesses.

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As the Strategy Lead for my team I often get the comments of “We never use this anyways” or “It doesn’t matter whether or not we scout”. So every year I try to explain that while I cant watch every single match and memorize every team, if you give me data and good notes it can be like I did. That way we have the information we need to make effective strategies that give us a solid chance to win. I’ve been the 2nd picked team on alliances and made the strategy for the entire alliance because I had superior data to them and more experience making strategies for playoffs.


Sorry, not dissing the question itself, but a lot of teams during quals have no clue what the others on their alliance can do.

Not all, but a lot of teams either have no scouts or won’t get good updates until the end of the day. To both new and older teams, “scouting for the next match is always good” is what I’m getting at.

Some teams like yours have a good handle on this, but I’m writing this for those who don’t or believe it’s not worth it cuz they don’t think they’ll be picked for elims.


Please, if you’re going to sell your team, have some idea of who you are talking to. While this might be beneficial for your team and team-who-is-picking-for-the-first-time, remember that Teams-Who-Pick-Often probably have a robust scouting system that they trust more than anything else. Unless you’re going to say “hey we had a blip in our performance in match X because component Y failed and we fixed it,” going to Teams-Who-Pick-Often with your data is not going to have any real effect.

Great robots get passed over more often than they should but it has more to do with bad scouting or bad prioritization on the picking teams’ ends than it does with selling themselves. Or it has to do with strategy, or shoddy build, or a messy pit*.

TL;DR: Teams with data trust their data. Teams without data (or with bad data) generally make bad decisions.

*If Team A and Team B are even in stats, I’d rather go with the team who’s pit looks clean and organized - its telling about how the team operates and what they will be like to work with.

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In my experience, the easiest way by far to get people interested in scouting is show that it adds value. The quickest way to get this started at the competition immediately is to scout the first round of matches, then use that data to immediately plan a strategy for the 2nd round of matches. After that round, take it back to the scouting team and show that “see, you’re awesome data helped us to plan an awesome strategy with the other teams that made our alliance score X more points!” Continue to repeat for the rest of the event, and if you’re in a picking position, you use the same feedback loop with picking partners Y and Z to your alliance. You can change culture super quickly this way.


Just because you don’t think you’re going to get picked doesn’t mean you shouldn’t scout. There are a lot of benefits to scouting now.

For one it gets you in the healthy habit now. It’s better to get into it and begin generating that culture now, since from what i’ve seen a healthy and proper scouting culture is developed overtime. And it’ll be easier to retain it rather than gunning for it later.

Secondly, as mentioned by others, you can use the information to help with qualifiers as well as elims. Even if it’s just your first event, as it goes on if you have the right information jotted down you can help your drive team by giving them information that might be crucial for winning a match that you might have otherwise lost. And who knows? That one match might have gotten you into a picking position.

Thirdly, it has also been mentioned that if you are picked scouting data is an appealing thing to have. Not only can it be something you’re chosen for specifically if you have a good way of displaying your data, it can also help your captain pick their second (or third) pick for your alliance.

Now since you are new to it, starting out slow isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And every team culture is different, and you just might need to find the best way for your team to scout and that might take time. So take it slow and find the best method for your team. It is definitely worth starting now.


We always scout every match even if we do not expect to be picking. If you have good scouting data and a lot of it an alliance could select you for strategy help.

We do three different types of scouting Pit Scouting, Tablet Scouting, and Super Scouting.

Pit Scouting: Have a group of kids go to the pits and ask every team what they can do and how their robot works
Tablet Scouting: We have 6 kids sit in the stands in shifts and watch matches and use our tablets to get quantitative data on teams. We compile all of this data in Tableau so we can look at graphs and tables to make our strategy meeting easier if we do make a pick list.
Super Scouting: 4-6 kids are assigned certain teams to scout and sit in the stands and watch matches to get qualitative data about each robot. The super scouters help to make the pick list with drive team and our strategy mentors and should be experts on the robots that they are assigned.

If you want more info on what we do we have a link to our strategy presentation on our wiki:

It is on the front page in the top right box titled “The Ins and Outs of Strategy in FRC”

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There are often other teams who will share their scouting data or are willing to collaborate on the scouting work. For Steamworks, the team I was mentoring only had enough team members for the drive team so I didn’t even mention scouting to them. The team captain was terrified for the half an hour that we were ranked 6th. He was very relieved when we fell back to 13th and got picked in the first round by a team working out of the same facility :sweat_smile:


As much as you can because it WILL backfire on you.

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AS a scouting mentor, I’ve bailed out several newer teams that were unprepared to be alliance captains by either helping them prepare their draft lists, or connecting them with another team that I know had been scouting but wasn’t an alliance captain. After watching a team fumble badly at a competition a few years ago, I decided that I would try to avoid having that happen at any competition that I was attending.

As an off season announcer, I now regularly notify teams in the top 12 to have a draft list prepared in case they are an alliance captain.


Scouting is just important for strategy as draft picks. We now have a live electronic link to our drive team for developing match strategies. Look into ways to provide that data on a near real time basis. Google Sheets is one good basis way to do that.

It also is a great way to engage the students sitting in the stands. It’s very important to convey to them the importance of their scouting effort to keep them motivated.

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You aren’t a picking alliance right up until you are. It’s always good to be prepared.

It’s also nice to have some information about the teams you’re about to play with/against. If your alliance-mate says they can score 3 goals in auto reliably, but your data says they have never scored more than 1, then maybe you say that your 2 scoring auto should be in position to do the auto scoring. Or knowing that the other alliance has one power house, and two so-so robots, you know you need to aggressively defend against that power house, and that should be enough to win.

Obviously the more info you get the better, but there is a limit based on interest, resources, and time, so you’ll have to find the right amount of info you collect.


are you us at vagle 2018?


Ding! I have been shocked by a lucky schedule draw and slipped into the 8th alliance captain slot. Crazy things happen.

We used a scouting spreadsheet that allowed us to have match previews for the upcoming matches, letting us see what was coming up. By tracking teams’ performance throughout the event, we could inform our drive team with what was really going on. Usually phrased as “we should win this match”, “if we execute, we can win this match”, or “we gotta be perfect to win this match”. After all, there’s a reason we still play the matches.

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This almost happened to my team at our Week 2 competition this season. We were ranked 11th after qualifications and because the #1 team picked the #2 team, #9 moved into the 8th slot. Our drive team almost had a heart attack because we hadn’t made a pick list yet :joy:

Lesson learned: Scout at least a little bit and make a rough, but an educated list of the best teams.

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At the Esky event last year my team picked the last seed. Always have a rough idea of who you want to work with just in case you are a first pick. No matter where you are ranked