How to be a good drive coach?

#1

So this year I am going to be the coach on the drive team for the first time and I could use some advise. What do your coaches usually watch for/ keep track of during the matches? What responsibilities do they have throughout the day? What is important to tell the drivers and what isn’t? What should I communicate to my alliance partner during the match? Is there anything else that is important to know? I understand that the coaches must know the rules and have a good sense of strategy. This is my 4th year on my team so I understand how everything works, its just my first time on the drive team and I don’t want to let my team down. Thanks!

#2

Our coach helps with strategy with other teams along with the drivers. Instead of watching you’re bot, let the drivers do that. Instead, tell them what they should do next, such as score that game price over there, or play defense on that bot. Time updates once in a while are also nice to know as a driver.

2 Likes
#3

I have a clear agreement with my drive coach that he will never do this to me. In fact, most of the time my coach is walking behind other alliance partners assisting them with observation.

Time calls are very important. Knowing how much time is left on the clock can strongly influence how the match is played. Inform your alliance of the score status. Are you winning? Losing? By how much?

Be aware of the status of your alliance’s robots and those of the opposing alliance. Call out when a robot is stuck on a game piece, or is dead in the corner of the field.

Lastly, don’t yell at your drivers. The driver/operator do a huge service to the team by taking on a lot of the stress of a competition. The last thing to do would be to yell at them. They know when something is broken and don’t need any help identifying that for the most part.

Good luck with the rest of your season.

3 Likes
#4

Just talk with your drive team and figure out what they need. Some drivers can pay attention to more stuff than others. Some drivers need you to micromanage while others can be more independent. Talk with your drive team regularly both before the competition and between matches.

There will be a bit of a learning curve when you get to your first competition. There isn’t really a way around it. Just find things to take away from each match tha you can do better.

4 Likes
#5

Make sure all members of the drive team are always where they need to be…

6 Likes
#6

With the cargo ship being a large obstacle in the middle of the field, keeping an eye on defense robots is key for a coach.

If your robot is in the depot/loading station area, and the drive team are collecting a game element, it would be good to tell them if they should go to the right or left of the ship in advance, alerting them to an incoming defender that may be blocking their originally intended path.

Same goes for retracting any mechanism outside of the robot. Drive coach should alert teams to incoming defenders so they can take appropriate actions to protect those extensions from getting caught on the cargo ship or rocket.

1 Like
#7

This is most important thing you can get from this thread. Most of the people responding to this thread have never been on a driveteam, and never will be. Reach out to a previous drive coach for your team and ask them what they did, Sit down with your driver and operator and ask them what they would like beforehand. That will allow you to be efficient and use your time competitively.

3 Likes
#8

This varies between coaches and the coach/driver/HP relationship, but here are some typical things you need to do:

  • Make sure everyone knows where everyone is going to be at all times
  • Work with your drivers/HP to figure out what they need to do their job well. Some drivers need constant instruction, the best drivers don’t
  • Pow-wow with the other teams before the match to figure out who is doing what, when and how
  • Give drivers/HPs the cues they need throughout the match (clock alerts, which cargo ship slots have balls in them, there’s a D bot coming, etc)
4 Likes
#9

Also talk with your alliance coaches during the match, it’s very common to have to change tactics or strategy mid match, depending on how things are going, which robots break, etc.

3 Likes
#10

Keep tabs on the ref closest to your bot. If they’re pointing at your bot and doing a countdown (they wave their arm up and down like a boxing match) figure out what you’re doing wrong quick.

I saw a playoff match from Orange County where the bot playing defense had their hatch grabber outside their frame for the whole match. Ref repeated a 5s countdown. The end result was something like 35 points in penalties and the record high score for the opposing alliance. I believe it was a tiebreaker match too, so they were capable of winning previously.

4 Likes
#11

So I am the drive coach for team 5980. NathanStro is the driver. My role during watching is watching our alliance as a whole, the other alliance, and the time. With that info I change the strategy if needed. Before matches I strategize with other teams for the next match. I also lead the teams scouting. So I look at every team at the events we go to. I also review the data collected through scouting. During matches I don’t direct my team at all unless they make a big mistake. I give info to all members of the alliance. I give time callouts. New strategies for the match and also help a team if they are about to break a rule. For someone new to the position I suggest to know the rules, strategies, and teams you compete against. Understand what strategies will beat others.

#12

I guess i’ll provide some counterpoints to the direction that this thread seems to be going. Each drive team is different, and you should do what works best for your team, but this is what I believe to be an “ideal” setup.

Coach tells drivers what to do and where to go.

Why? The coach has the most time to look at the rest of the field, scoreboard, time left, scoring objects, other robots etc, and thus has the most information available to make the correct play in the heat of the moment.

Coaches do not tell the drivers how to drive

Just because you are telling them where to go and what to do, DOES NOT MEAN you are telling them how to drive.

Why?

That’s the driver’s job, they know how to drive best, they know what issues are happening with the robot and what they need to do.

DO SAY

“Pick up from HP”
“Score left side rocket”
“Score cargo right side closest portal, there is no cargo there yet”
“Climb now”
“Block team 1234”
“Swap to scoring hatches at xxxx location”

DO NOT SAY

“Drive forwards”
“Turn”
“Intake”
“Release”
“Score”
“Lift arm/elevator”

7 Likes
#13

This thread has me laughing a bit, but that’s great!

The thing everyone can agree on, is every drive team runs itself its’ own way. For my driveteam and I, that would never work, I play my own game and my coach gives me helpful info along the way, but I’ve also played with teams that operate under the whole “turn left, open claw” method. If it works for you and your drivers, that’s cool. Just make sure you know what your driveteam needs.

#15
  1. Call out time every 20-30 seconds
  2. The score isn’t actually that important, don’t look at it constantly
  3. Be the leader in strategy meetings with other teams and within your own team
  4. Be in the know for rankings
  5. Be 100% on the rules
  6. Your drivers should know how the game works and you should have basic phrases that you can use to tell them what to do “Left station hatch” “Center left cargo ship” etc
  7. Have fun, and be kind!
6 Likes
#16

Yes! Drive coaches (and teams) need to know the rules. (There have been so many matches I have seen so far with defenders staying out of frame)

1 Like
#17

There’s a lot that goes into coaching, and as this thread has laid bare, there’s a lot of ways to go about it. From my experience, I’ve put together a basic guide below.

Personal Philosphy
The coach is in charge of the driveteam. No ifs. No Ands. No Buts.
Two reasons:

  1. Drivers have such intense tunnel vision that they have a hard time absorbing enough of their surroundings to make proper, strategic decisions. Veteran drivers tend to be better at this, but even they need help.
  2. A driveteam shouldn’t be operating under multiple strategies. If a coach wants to do X and the driver wants to do Y, what do you do? If you’re fortunate, you can discuss this before a match, but during a match, if a coach says something, a driver shouldn’t hesitate.

Pre-Match
Review Scouting Information - Before talking with other teams, review your own scouting information and discuss the match with your own drivers and strategists. Have expectations for what teams can do and what potential strategies are in play.

Discuss Strategy with Partners - Simple enough. Go around to your alliance partners and talk about what’s going to happen. After the alliance has a strategy, make sure your drivers understand what’s going to happen.

Brief with the Pit Crew - Check with the pit crew to confirm what is or isn’t working. This is especially important after a match where your robot has sustained some damage.

During a Match
Try Not to Micro-Manage - Drivers should have the general ability to handle actions. For example, a coach shouldn’t have to dictate things like elevator down, spit out, etc. Leave the small details to your drivers and focus on larger actions such as where to get the next game pieces, where to score next, and when to go to climb.

Survey the Field - Keep an eye on the whole field and have an idea of how you’re going to respond to various events. For example, if the other alliance takes an early lead, are you going to swap to defense, if there’s only a couple more pieces left on a rocket, are you going to go help, etc. A strong unified strategy is key, but surveying the field and making smart moves is what makes truly great coaches.

Call Times - It’s important for the drivers to know how much time is left, especially around things like the end game. It’s a small task, but it seems to really help drivers.

Communicate with Other Coaches - This one is a bit tricky, but keep your alliance partners’ coaches updated. So if you need help getting on the platform, have a broken mechanism, or hear a request for help, all of these are good reasons to reach out to the other coaches.

After a Match
Debrief With Drive Team - Talk with your drivers about what went well, what went not-so-well, and what you can do to improve. If possible, review match footage. A debrief is a good way for people to decompress and is key to helping driveteams improve.

Miscellaneous
Know the Rules - Please…just please.

Stand Up For your Team - It’s no surprise that sometimes other coaches can be kind of pushy. Whether it’s an overzealous adult or a hot-shot team, sometimes other coaches can come in hot and heavy, demand you play defense or something, and generally put your team down. To that end, standup for your team and don’t let other coaches push you around.

Be Humble - There’s nothing worse than a coach who claims that their team can fill up an entire rocket but then doesn’t even score a hatch. Don’t be that coach. Be honest with your team’s current abilities and what you need out of this match and you’ll find that other driveteams will more than appreciate it.

Take Care of your Driveteam - As previously mentioned, drivers are under an incredible amount of stress. As such, getting bombarded by other people, other driveteams, and even members of your own team only makes things worse. Work with your other teammates and mentors to make sure that your driveteam is focused, relaxed, and ready to go.

6 Likes
#18
  • Be honest and confident with yourself, your drive team, and your alliance partners on the capabilities of your robot and your team. You’re doing everyone a disservice by not playing to your potential. You’re also doing everyone a disservice by not delivering on what was promised during initial match strategy discussion.
  • Project, don’t yell. On the field, you’re going to have to speak loudly and clearly. My field philosophy is that it’s better to be a little louder than necessary than to have to waste time repeating the information. One piece of advice that I’ve heard is that you should project your voice from your chest and not from your throat. this will help you maintain your voice in the long run.
  • Don’t go into match strategy discussions with any preconceived notions about “mentor vs student” drive coaches. The best alliances I’ve worked on as both a student and a mentor have treated everyone as equals.
  • Trust your drivers to do their jobs and they’ll trust you to do yours. Don’t micromanage.
  • Actively communicate with your partners throughout the match. Don’t panic if you’re having major robot issues. Communicate with your partners and develop contingency plans and triggers for those plans so that your alliance isn’t totally down one robot.
  • Debrief with your drivers. What went well? What didn’t go well? How can we do better?
  • Avoid tunnel vision. I do this by establishing a mental schedule of checking the match time, looking at partner and opposing robots, and looking at the overall field state regularly.
  • Technical competency with some aspect of the robot is a plus, but not completely necessary.
  • Stay hydrated, fed, etc. Your personal health far outweighs the results of matches.
  • As drive coach, I take the blame for team performance during matches. As long as my drivers are comfortable with their abilities and the robot, any missteps during the match are usually my calls. Be prepared to take this blame and to communicate these issues to the drivers when necessary.
2 Likes
#19

I really like the examples you have here…it really drives home the point of most drivers can get tunnel vision. Its a partnership for sure.

#20

charged batteries!

#21

We have not had a match this year but I am a drive coach and plan on telling our team call outs. We will probably do hatches early and balls late in the round. I will monitor the score and might start scoring cargo earlier depending if we’re in the lead or what not. Also end game is important. Our robot isn’t fancy so we want to make sure were not in the way of a team doing a lineup. Timing call outs might change depending on the strategy. I’ve had rounds in previous years where I can see a part break and I call out “go play defense”. Lean on the veteran teams to have final decision on strategy. We got to play with 118 and 148 last year and both times I asked their coaches how we can help them score more, most of it was avoiding high traffic areas to not clog their paths. So I just told my driver pre round hey “stay scoring on the opposite side , dont create traffic over here”.