Maintaining Fun while Scouting

How does your team try to keep scouts interested in the game while scouting long matches? Last year, we tried to do something like placing bets on robots with fake currency, but that didn’t work.

Play Bingo: Examples of squares are

  1. Anytime a teams number is announced incorrectly
  2. Anytime a joke request comes out
  3. Someone sighing at a song that is played
  4. Seeing a group of students cringe at a botched auto
  5. Hearing someone yell robot instead of excuse me
  6. Team members saying thigns they say normally

Werther’s and memes on the good days,
Werther’s and prayers on the bad days.

Betting! Over-under on statistic X, pick-em, whatever ensures they’re paying attention.

(For play money, of course.)

The FIRES Scouting app allows scouters to guess the Red and Blue Alliance scores for each match. Points are assigned to the scouter for getting the closest alliance score (a lot of points for an exact alliance score). We then show a live leader-board to see who’s “guessing” the best. Whoever wins gets a gift card of some sort.

What we’ve found is scouters want to scout…especially if they are near the top of the leader-board. Also, the scouters tend to pay attention more and start learning the aspects of the teams. The scouters end up be a valuable resource instead of just recording data.


If you have the resources, having a rotational schedule where scouts aren’t stuck there for too long seems to help. Can avoid some of the burnout, but then you need someone creating the schedule and administering it.


We use a web app to administer the scheduling

More of the making sure kids show up when they are supposed to. It’s usually the matches right after lunch that are the hardest to get the assigned people back for scouting.

4103 usually does rotations. A group of 7 sits with the lead Scouter and we rotate every hour or so (depending on how many go to the competition). I think the longest rotation was about 2 hours because of field problems

Last year, for every match a scout scouted, they could predict a match. One point for the correct alliance winning, one point for guessing the correct lead that the winning alliance had. We designed papers which had checkboxes for the winning alliance and the lead, ranging from 0-10 to 40+ points. At the end, our team had some candy and gift cards all in a pile and the scouts chose their prizes in order of their prediction score.


Make sure the scouts include team members of all ranks/seniority and let them know they are valued and appreciated. Don’t just make your rookies scout.

When you isolate a large group of people from the rest of the team for a arduous task it’s easy for the group think to devolve quickly if they feel as if what their doing doesn’t matter. This is especially so if that group is full of people who may not be as committed as others. Culture is everything.

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So what we do is have a very large scouting team. This allows us to cycle students out of the rather boring duty of scouting. This means you get an hour on or so, and then maybe two hours off. It really helps just sitting there if you know you will get to do what you want in a short amount of time.

My team has also been struggling with keeping people engaged. One far out method is to scout with another team- then scan/print/send data to them after day 1. Then, each team is only responsible for having 3 scouts in the stands.
However, that takes work.
We encourage a doodling contest on the back of our sheets. Food rewards for scouting (after the competition). We were also thinking of free merch/raffle ticket style, however, I’ve been slow to advocate that new idea.
Schedules are hard, because in the heat of the competition, people often don’t keep track of time.

Hope this helps.

The FIRES scouting app does something very similar. Each match the scouter predicts the 2 alliance scores. The closest scouter guess to the actual final score for each alliance gets a point, (5 points for an exact score guess). Between each match we show a scouting leader board. The leader board acts as an incentive to continue scouting. The end result is the scouters want to guess correctly so they start paying much closer attention to which robots are on the field and what their capabilities are. This makes the scouters a valuable resource on strategy and pick list.

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