Ideas on how to train drivers

I’m the coach on my team and I’m looking for ideas on how to train my driving team (on the real robot) ,
our driving team has some driving experience but not a lot plus this year we are building a swerve drive system so I wanted to ask for ideas on training new and experienced drivers specifically on swerve drive but also in general.

edit: grammar and added stuff.

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Have you tried xrc simulator?

You can replicate the behind the glass feeling and get a crash course on how to drive swerve with all the obstacles in the way:

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I would recommend then trying to play from the Behind the Glass view and not the arcade view of right behind the robot. Especially if training on anything field centric versus robot centric.

For teams who do not have anything currently setup for training: Take a look at the 2021 Infinite Recharge drive challenges. These actually do a pretty good job of providing a template to start with, is very low resource and you can just build from there.

Start at section 2.4.4

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thank for the idea but I was looking for training on the real robot (we have a built swerve drive robot)

While you can jump straight into game-specific driving and techniques, something that gets overlooked often is giving your drivers a very solid feel for how the robot handles, and slowly introducing relevant elements.
Pretty much every time I’m in a new car I go down to the massive TRW parking lots, which are notably unobstructed and paved in asphalt, not concrete, and figure out what the handling limitations are. One car has wild oversteer owing to poor weight balance and suspension, and it’s useful to experience exactly what that feels like and figure out how to recover.
Throw out some cones on an open carpet and have your driver follow specific patterns, then change the cone spacing, change their viewpoint, dim the lights, etc. After that add in a task like “touch this tote, without pushing it, and then follow this cone path as fast as you can” or “drive down this narrow tote hallway without touching the sides”. Even things that don’t necessarily show up in an FRC match are useful to get a better understanding of the robot, especially for a first-time driver or if you’ve moved to a new drive system.
Once that’s all solid you bring in the real loading stations, goals, especially the driver station and anything that might block your view, etc.

Though I understand it can be difficult to have a complete robot assembled for driver practice, try to get the weight and 3D center of mass placement close. Your drivers need to be able to trust the robot and anticipate what it should do; in 2019 I was picking up on nearly imperceptible comms issue because the response time from joystick to robot was off at certain points during the match.

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One the FRC classic docs on this is Drive like a Falcon

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I’m not sure if this is a joke i’m just not getting but that “link” is just colored text and not actually linked to anything.

Link to past CD discussion with doc link in context failed - must not have pasted right - fixed it

I second this, I’ve used the 2168 drivers manual for a number of years.

take a look at 1690’s driver training video.

As @troy_dietz wrote, start easy to let them get a feel for handling, then get more and more complex. Straight lines, then figure-8s, then ‘stop here’. Add visual obstacles and increase the need for precision.

Also pick typical game tasks: line up with a feeding port, drive around (past) a moving opponent, smooth turns, and the like.

Last: dedicate several batteries to the practices with someone to manage them. The drivers (train more than one!) will benefit immensely from 7-10 hours a week!

I have said this many times: a great driver can win with a mediocre robot, while a mediocre driver will lose with the world’s best robot.

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Drills to get a feel for the handling of the robot like I’ve seen quite a few people mention are very important.

If you have the space and and extra bot, have the driver try to complete an objective while another bot plays defense on them. It doesn’t have to be a scoring related objective (but it can be), it can also be things like getting to a certain location as efficiently as they can, or retrieving a game piece.

Lastly, don’t overlook knowing the rules. How thorough a driver’s knowledge of the rules is can make the difference between winning and losing a close match.

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Drill on worst case scenario. Like absolutely ridiculous worst case scenarios. DC is assisting with another team’s defense, intake reversed, one swerve module is down, 6072 is defending you, and a ceiling panel fell onto the goal. Not only will your drivers be prepared in that ridiculous situation, but they will become highly comfortable navigating change, keeping their cool, handling worst-case in matches, and prepared with solutions to even the most ridiculous on-field problems. The solutions don’t need to be theoretically optimal, they need to be better-than-bad, made quickly, and communicated across the alliance.

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Hmmm, that happened to us last Saturday at ramp riot lol. It is a great idea to practice in sub optimal situations.

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Last Saturday at Ramp Riot your DC was assisting with another team’s defense while the intake was reversed, one swerve module was down, 6072 (west coast) was defending you, and a ceiling panel fell into the high hub? I knew I should have gone.

During the final at Ramp Riot, one of 2539’s swerve modules was inoperable and they were driving while one of their alliance partners had constant radio power issues (becoming an intermittent obstacle on the field), their other alliance partner had a broken intake, and they had played through the entire lower bracket after losing their first match of the double elim. So, I’ll call it close enough.

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I found the at home challenges from 2021 are good for drills and simple practice driving. I tend to modify them a little bit (depending on the current layout of our room and how much space current field elements take up.)
We have pvc pipes filled with sand and cones

I also will get another robot and have them practice evading defense, and even practice defending.

It’s hard to give the operator practice when that aspect changes literally every year. But you can get creative and make something work.

I would think about types of skills you want to reinforce and then create competitive scenarios using those skills. Whether that is:

  • Lining up to a wall/object
  • Making a tight maneuver (2021 course)
  • Blind maneuvers (video assist) (sandstorm)
  • Orientation onto a spot
  • Crossing barriers efficiently (2020 switch generator)
  • Reverse driving
  • Defense avoidance/handling
  • Situational awareness & decision making

I try for drills to not just be repetition, at least in the beginning, but to be scored by time or points, with individuals or pairs trying to get the best score for that session/drill.

We start inviting everyone to try driving and operating in the Fall, and we start with challenges that are more general and not necessarily a game task, to make it easier for new drivers to participate. As you get further along in Feb & March, you will reduce participants just to drivers and work more on game tasks and repetitions of them, with extra drilling to reinforce some skill and with defense when available. At that point, you still keep score but compare to their own progress.

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I will absolutely be using this in my off season training this year thank you

Surprised this hasn’t been brought up yet in this thread, but watch match videos, like a lot of them. Match videos expose you to the most in-game scenarios and teach you “what to do”, such as match strategy, playing defense, and playing against defense. Even if practice time is very limited for whatever reason, you can still be a good driver if you watch match videos and learn what you need to do. A driver with decent mechanical skills but great game knowledge, situational awareness, and ability to play as or against defense is still a good driver.

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