Keeping the Pits Streamlined

So, this season team 20 has had some issues with too many people in the pits. There would be 10+ people in the pit, with just as many hanging out in the aisle in front of the pit. of course everyone should have a chance to check out the robot after a stellar match, but how do you draw the line? We have a pit crew that tries to get work done (and does an excellent job), but with no policy in place, it is difficult to deal with such crowds. Thus, we are looking to implement a policy for next season. I have several ideas, but I wanted to see what other teams do first. So, my question for you is, does your team have a policy as to how many/who gets to be in the pit? If so, what is the policy? Do any other teams stick out as having an effective policy?

Our team has a simple rule of, if you’re not working on the robot or supervising the robot. Stay outside of the pit. It’s okay to stand in front of the pit though, just don’t get in the way of other robots/teams.

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First, make sure your pit is organized and planned out before you get to the event. An organized pit holds more people.

Second, assign only a few competition roles to the pit. Take shifts if you want, or only have your most technically oriented / charismatic students in the pits (Mechanical / Electrical captains, etc) at a time. Have a pit boss student or mentor that manages who’s in the pits all the time, making sure they kindly turn away students who don’t need to be there.

Our team has, at any time, the safety captain, a few mechanically oriented students, programmers, the drive team, and (if we need it) team reps to talk to other teams and judges in the pits. Most of these roles overlap, and many of the roles don’t actually require people having to stand in our pits the whole time, so in reality we’ll end up with like 6 or 7 people in the pits at the time. If you have a different job or no reason to be there, as a team we say ahead of time to avoid being in our pits for an extended period of time.

So in short, plan ahead, assign roles, and work together.

This comment confuses me. Why does your team need to check out your robot after a stellar match? Your team knows what your robot looks like, the only reasons they have to be in the pit are for working on the robot or liaising with judges and/or other teams. Assign these roles either for the whole weekend or in shifts, make other people aware that it is harmful to the team for them to be in the pit.

A system I have contemplated implementing is “Pit Passes” in control of a mentor. The Pit Crew would have Pit Passes for the whole weekend and others may be granted temporary passes as necessary. Only those with passes would be allowed in the pit for more than a few minutes.

This is exactly what we do and it works great. Couldn’t have said it better.

Pit passes are a bit hostile and create an additional task at a competition.

Make sure students also have roles in the stands.

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We TechnoKats set a schedule every year and if you aren’t on the schedule, then you are in the stands. The scouting group has a similar schedule as to make sure we have scouts at all times, yet no one person scouts all day.

Actually I disagree with this and every year i try my best to kick all TechnoKats in front of the pit out if they aren’t susposed to be there. Imagine this, you are at BoilerMaker regional, and your team, and every other team has 3-5 people standing outside of the pit. Since BMR has very limited space in the aisles, there is no room to get through. This is bad if you are running late and need to get the robot through, or if the people outside of the pits are messing around and they block judges. If I had one thing to ask of all teams, please don’t stand in front of your pit.

It’s generally known that our team runs to the pits after a match. The scouts hang around waiting for their next assignment from the scout leader, the builders all rush back to make sure everything still works, the safety captain is almost always there, and everyone wants to talk to the drivers to makes sure that things went well during the match and no major issues came up.

So for me, or anyone else on my team, to tell people on my team to stay in the stands would be unfair. They have a full right to come down and check out the robot, talk to people, get status updates, etc. And it’s understandable that right after a match is almost always the worst, but it generally clears out.

The only thing I can suggest is to make sure the pit crew know who they are. The pit crew need first priority. As far as people standing in the aisle, we generally let them hang around for a few minutes but we generally encourage them to move to stands.

This year i instituted a 5 min rule. If you weren’t part of the pit crew or doing something “helpful” you had 5 min to be near our pit at any one time. That didn’t mean they couldn’t be in the pits, they just couldn’t be crowding our pit.

@ Vikesrock - I agree with you 100% but the head mentors feel differently. I’d love to have a system where only a select few get to be in the pit, but they want everyone to have a chance.

@ Schnabel - I also agree, people standing in front of the pit is not ok. I feel that if someone is standing in front of the pit, rather than in the pit, they most likely aren’t doing anything useful.

@ ttldomination - This is exactly what happens with our team

One other thing I’d like to ask about. I was considering opening the pit during lunch hour, as there will be less activity, except at one of our regionals this season judges came by the pit during lunch. We’d like to keep pit crowds to their lowest when judges come around, so is this the exception, or should we plan on judge visits at any time?

One thing some teams do (I don’t know how many, but every team I’ve been on / near in FRC / FTC has done it) is that if there are judges in the pits, keep walking unless it’s vitally important (like, say, bringing the robot to a match). If you weren’t involved with the construction of a particular component and a judge would ask you about it, it would put you in a weird situation. I mean, we don’t tell people “never talk to judges” or something, but if the pits full of judges, then the pit’s full, you know? A crowd swarming the judges isn’t really a good idea; we love judges but we’re not here to crowd surf them :slight_smile:

Judges normally don’t come around in lunch unless they got interrupted by a match or you’re doing something very right. If people want to stop by the pits, lunch would be the time to do it.

You can still have everyone get the chance to be in the pit, but is there really that much to do other than “fix the robot” and “talk to teams” (which is better done walking between pits)? It’s not a terribly exciting place to be most of the time.

Do you have everyone on your team assigned to a role at competition? Our team helps get around the problem with stand scouting; we basically don’t have enough people between stand scouting, pit recon, and the other competiton jobs to have anyone who’s free to stand around for more than a half hour or so, and those people on break usually want to check out other robots.

Our team sometimes has problems with this too. We basically say that if you’re not scouting or doing something else in the stands, you can come to the pits for a few minutes as long as you don’t get in anybody’s way while they are working. We also encourage students to go around and look at the other robots and watch matches to get a better understanding of the other robots. This typically keeps the crowding to a minimum on our team.

I noticed about six or seven of my teammates hanging around ‘supervising’ in the aisle at competition, so I took a moment to ask each one, “what are you doing?” and if they answered ‘nothing’ or mumbled some BS answer, I sent them to the stands.

My concerns with judges are the same. The reason people want to be in the pit is that most of the “cool” kids on the team are either pit crew or drivers, they draw people to the pit. We have something like 60 kids at competitions, so its hard to find roles for all them. Many of them aren’t reliable enough to effectively scout, unfortunately. That’s something else we’re working on…

I try this also, but since the head mentors had the “anyone can see the robot” policy, I never got very far.

Nice thread Dan :stuck_out_tongue:

If I may add something, Dan, myself and another pit captain were thinking about having ‘pit credits’ where a student that participates during the build season is given a credit by the mentor he/she was working with. This credit is worth, say, 15 minutes in the pit. This way the students that did the most during the build season would be able to reap the benefits of their hard work

However, this system seems a bit complicated to me. We have quite a large team, so managing who has what # of credits could become confusing, and if we gave the credits out as pieces of paper kids could lose them …

Anyone have any ideas on how this system could be improved?

I think our system of pit credits is a good idea, the only problem is that our team isn’t good at keeping record of things. However, instead of handing out the credits as pieces of paper, maybe coins would be a better idea (emulate the safety credits at each competition, maybe?). Maybe have each student write their initials on a piece of masking tape and put it on the coin itself. When they visit the pit, they can just hand in their coin in a bag.

A simple posted schedule of crew time assignments works well. Students are assigned pit, strategy, data collecting, free time or Chairman’s booth.

My team dosent’ usually have this problem(as we dont have many people)

But we give everyone different assignments(scouting,talking to judges/other teams,etc…)

Usually everyone who’s not on the drive team is in the stands or walking around the pits looking at other teams/robots/cool stuff…

I think this is because our robots’ seem to be unbreakable for some reason(I think this has something to do with us being overweight all the time too:rolleyes:) so we dont usually need more than 4 students is the pits anyways(drive team and safety captain)

If its a space problem try reorganizing your pit(worked well for us)

What 247 does is we have a specific pit crew - composed student-wise of myself, being safety captain and pit crew chief, and the drive tem, which has two more mechanical students, our marketing guy, and one of the programmers. We have two build mentors, and also an electrical mentor. That’s eight total, and drive team is usually out being briefed by our head scout, or schmoozing with other teams. Nobody really drops in after a match, they stay occupied in scouting. I
f I see another student just hanging around our pit that isn’t supposed to be there, I can just throw them out.

Keeping an organized pit is a good idea. Another pit tip - double your toolboxes as seats!
Also, we have a workbench that we replace the table they give us with. My first job on Thursday was to get that table out of there and somewhere more useful for the judges, refs, etc.

We just make the pits so unpleasant, nobody "wants’ to be there :rolleyes:

Seriously: We have taught our students to ask that question of themselves: If you are not actively repairing something, then go somewhere else.

I agree 1000%. DO NOT STAND in front of your pits! You are a safety hazard to put it politely, and a majorly annoying distraction to put it bluntly. You’re a hinderance if any judges come by, and you’ll slow down the process of strategizing with other teams drive-teams.

We assign 5 team members to the pits. 2 mechanical, 2 electrical, and one ‘whoever’. I am never afraid to send team members away if there are too many. They know that if I see them standing with nothing to do that it’s pretty likely they’re going to get something to do (and generally it won’t be much fun) - things like going to set up the lunch trailer, or going to relieve someone who’s scouting, or going to scout other teams.

Don’t be afraid to ask people to leave. The first time you don’t and someone gets hurt, you’ll feel horrible that you didn’t.

Get those extra people out of the pits. They don’t belong there.