Min meeting time required to be competitive?

There are a couple active threads on avoiding burnout & improving work ethic. Both seem to assume a generous amount of team meeting time (or at least open shop time).

Some teams are highly meeting time constrained by their school or other sponsoring entity. I’m aware of such a team whose students want the team to be competitive, which I’ll define as qualifying for DCMPs every year and CMPs every fourth year on average in a highly competitive district with many teams that qualify for CMPs every year.

I feel the students will need to successfully lobby for more time to achieve their goal. My question to you is… Assuming good, mature team practices in areas like training, succession, etc. and assuming good funding, a good set of mentors… what is the minimum meeting time needed to be competitive (as defined)?

  • Pre-season hours per week?
  • Build season hours during each week? And on the weekend? (Is at least one long weekend day required)?
  • Competition season hours per week?
  • Summer hours per week or month (required to achieve this goal?)?

Clarification after some responses This team does custom design/build on top of kitbot (though they feel huge pressure to develop swerve after it dominated the district last year). I don’t think they or their mentors would choose to go Everybot.


I will preface with the requirements: My current team makes DCMP every year, in Indiana, but does so without worry. We qualified for Champs 5 years ago, and would have last year if not for the downgrade to one champ location. So we are close to those requirements.

In the Preaseson, we are currently meeting 6 hours a week, 3 per night on two nights for full team meeetings. Administrative and leadership meetings are extra.

During build season for this upcoming year, 22, 20, and 19, our hours have been 4 weeknights at 3 hours each, and a 7 hour saturday, that can be extended if needed by 2-3 hours. So 19-22 hours.

Between competitions we meet the same as during build season, but we take the day after competition off.

Summer are usually considered optional project meetings. Last summer we met 3 hours a week.

Before 2019, we met slightly more hours, but due to the mentor pool we had to shift our timing.

I would enjoy extending those weeknight meetings maybe another hour earlier to add 4 hours a week, but we do not have the availability.

Hope this gives some perspective.


I think we’ll need to be extremely clear by what we mean by ‘meeting time’ and be sure to include time spent outside meetings. I suspect the majority of competitive teams work outside meetings (CAD, reviewing code, making purchases…). I know I probably spend at least an equal amount of time working on robotics at home rather than in meetings.


Fully agree. I would say most of our students do not do much outside meeting time, but our student leadership does quite a bit, and our mentor leaders do a ton outside of meetings.


Good point. I’m asking about actual team meeting time / available shop time, separate from individuals doing CAD, programming, inventory housekeeping, etc. at other times.

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I know of multiple teams that work outside of meeting. The healthiest reason for this is if one particular sub-team has a disproportional amount of work, so meetings are canceled for all but that sub-team. CAD, Business, and Software can, in many cases, do the work from home, saving everyone time.


I dont know if this helps but this is my team’s schedule. It also depends on what you mean by “competitive”

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If I were attempting to minimize time (with no other goal except to be competitive) and I knew everything I knew now, I would say 6 hours a week with 4 students (enough for a drive team).

Week one: Build kit bot chassis with wiring and basic drive code

Week two: Hold driver tryouts. The driver must spend 3 hours a week driving the kit bot with multiple different exercises.

Week three and four: Manufacture all components to build the everybot. Assemble everything that can be not put on the robot chassis.

Week five: Reserved so any assemble/wiring that will render the drive chassis “out of service”. There is no drive practice this week. Add stock code provided by Kitbot.

Week six - seven: Drive 5 of 6 hours a week. The last hour is reserved for programming to test the auto’s they have been writing in the background.

Week eight (Week one comp): Go to an early comp and get more practice and understand your flaws and weaknesses.

This schedule is 100% doable, but would take a very skilled team. With the right mentors, I think it’s definitely possible.


He defined it in his post.


Qualifying for CMPS is hard as it is but I guess it has alot to do with commitment and hours, but not spending so much time that you’ll get burnt out.

The more time you spend figuring out how to prototype your robot and your wants and needs before build season starts is a good way to begin. After that its just about how you schedule your projects before your first district event.

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I fully agree.


I feel we might be over qualified for “competitive” since the last year we did not get to Championship was 2016 but I will throw our schedule in to the ring:

Preseason: ~8 hours a week starting in late July until mid October mostly Tuesday night and Saturday then we will switch to ~2.5 hours until kickoff mostly used for teaching new members, teaching old members new skills and then a design competition.

Most of Build Season: ~16 hours of in person meetings. 6 hours on Saturday, 4 hours on Sunday, 2 hours Tuesday-Thursday. During this time leadership/passionate members will do stuff on their off time from CAD, to strategy talks, to awards prep. However none of that is required and is mostly negligible in terms of time over the course of the whole year.

End of Build Season: Scheduled meetings stay with the approximate 16 hours but if the driver or fabrication students want more time to practice or make spare parts we will open the shop on off days for them to get work done since they will spend the “scheduled” time on teaching and instructing.

Competition Season (Non competition weeks): 14 hours. We keep our Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday meetings but will usually use Wednesday as another off day. Once again opening on off days if something needs to get done but typically this works.

Summer: We will typically take a break after Championship and our End of the year party from Mid May till end of June. The only time we meet during this time is if we are attending an event such as IRI or WVROX and that is really only if we need to make upgrades or train a new driver.


I would say that our team is reasonably competitive. We’ve made to MSC 7 out of 8 years of our existence and attended CMPs twice. So…
In years past, we barely met at any point in the fall. Maybe once or twice to clean up from the previous season to get our build space ready for the next. This year we will try to meet once per week for two hours. Basically October through December, minus the holidays.
During build, we typically meet twice during the week for three hours per night and on Saturday for 7-8 hours, so up to 14 or so hours per week. Things get weird during competitions, so not even going to try to figure that out!
Most of our work does get done during this time (I wish we had students willing to work outside of meeting times! We’ve had a couple over the years but not many), although one of our mentors does put in some amount of time ordering parts outside of these hours.
We have found that having a well defined plan of action and key deadlines is good. Not that we ever keep to the schedule!


I apologize for the wall of text, but I feel like this question merits more than a short answer.

Firstly, regardless of the answer myself or anyone else here gives you, in the end the answer is basically: “it depends”. There are a lot of factors that affect the amount of time required to be competitive such as number of people (obviously), experience, work efficiency, and the ability to streamline processes.

For example, a team with an experienced CNC mill operator will take substantially less time to make the same part compared to a novice manual mill operator. Additionally, a team that can afford to outsource some manufacturing or buy more COTS solutions will get substantially more work done for the same amount of time invested.

With that said, here’s how my team works for reference:

First, some background; 5712 has qualified for our MI State Championship and the World Championship every year but one since the team was created in 2015. In the first few years, the team basically played the role of the “24th best” robot at events that would get grabbed by a high seed alliance as a 2nd pick and do well. In 2017 we started a fairly major shift in strategy to move from “the team that gets picked” to “the team that picks our partners”. This wasn’t without its growing pains, and 2017 was the one year we didn’t make it to States/Worlds. Since then, we’ve improved our performance consistently every year, until we finally seeded 1st in our home district this year and went undefeated at that event. While I certainly don’t consider us to be one of the “best” teams in the program (yet), it’s certainly something we’re striving for, and I would definitely consider us “competitive”

Our team itself consists of between 25-35 students and roughly 15 mentors on paper, but, as is common with most teams, probably only about half of that number are there regularly. Our build space has expanded over the years and today we have a dedicated building for a full practice field, machine shop space that includes a CNC Mill, CNC Router, Lathe, saws, and 3D Printers, in addition to various other tools. Additionally, we work with a few of our sponsors to manufacture some parts for our robots (in accordance with relevant rules, of course).

Now that you have that baseline information, here’s the answer to your specific question:

Pre-season hours per week?
I consider pre-season to be roughly beginning of school through kickoff. As a general rule, we try to meet two nights a week for ~2 hours (4 hours total per week) and use the time for off-season prep and prototype “projects” (more on that later). Additionally, our high school team is highly involved with mentoring our middle school FTC team, so we put some time into that as well (it’s also a good opportunity for high school student training). Occasionally we’ll add a few hours on a Saturday when we have a bigger project we want to complete.

Build season hours during each week? And on the weekend? (Is at least one long weekend day required)?
Generally speaking build season meetings run Mon-Fri for 2-3hrs per night and Saturdays for about 6 hours. Occasionally we’ll add some time on Sunday or skip a Friday, but it generally works out to about 18 hours per week. Note that, again, this is not the entire team showing up to each of these meetings, and the only somewhat required meetings are on Mon/Wed (which have more of an organizational focus). Also, sub teams (Programming, Awards/Presentation, etc) will sometimes also have their own dedicated meetings at other times.

Competition season hours per week?
Since the elimination of bag day, we treat competition season basically like an extension of build season. Since we’re always looking for things to improve, we spend the time needed to make whatever improvements we can between events. That said, depending on our schedule of events, the focus of a given meeting may change more to event prep, rather than build.

It’s also worth noting here that our school has a program that allows you to put 1 robotics credit per year (I think) on your HS transcript if you put in 60 hours over the course of a season and attend 2 competitions. It’s not a hard requirement, but it does help incentivize attendance.

Summer hours per week or month (required to achieve this goal?)?
In our community, it’s been difficult to get a lot of student engagement in the summer due to other activities. That said, we try to meet at least once a week (maybe 2-3 hours) and will work on various projects (like I mentioned previously in the pre-season section), even if attendance is sparse.

These projects generally revolve around a capability we want to develop further. For example, several years ago, we built a small prototype tennis ball shooter to examine the effects of different types of wheeled ball shooters; This was the building blocks to the development of our turret/hood variable angle shooter that we’ve used successfully for the past 2 years. More recently, we built a swerve drive test robot over the summer and it taught us a lot about how to implement the swerve drive we put on our robot this year.

While the schedule itself isn’t particularly important, dedicating off-season time to develop skills like this is critical to the improvement of a team (build season is not an ideal time to be developing new things you’ve never tried before, if you can help it).

Lastly, I’ll say this: Fundraising, Outreach, and recruitment for a competitive team is virtually a full-time job. Our team would not be where it is today without the year-round work of some extremely dedicated individuals that seek out and maintain relationships with our sponsors and the community, and help recruit talented individuals to the team (particularly mentors). I say this not to intimidate, but just so that you don’t underestimate the amount of effort required to be competitive. Having more funding and talented people won’t guarantee you a successful robot, but it sure helps a lot!

Pre-Season: ~4hrs / week + FTC + Off-season competitions
Build Season: ~16hrs / week, including some weekend time
Comp Season: ~16hrs / week, including some weekend time + Competitions
Summer: ~2hrs / week + Off-season competitions


Have made Michigan DCMP every year since 2013 except for 2016 and 2019, and made CMP 4 times in that span.

Summer: light on meetings, mostly outreach activities
Fall: also light on meetings while FTC ramps up, but about 3-6 hours per week once that starts
Build and comp season: 19 or 21 hours (M-F 6-9pm, Sat 12-4 or 12-6) [Sat schedule has changed a bit over the years]

Meeting going to 10 or 11 are an absolute rarity and usually associated with years we don’t do so well. Don’t know how much students do on their own outside meetings, but pretty low for most except maybe for some CAD or making parts in CTE class.

Lead mentor time (me): I don’t want to know, but much more (considering I’m here on CD now)

Belated PS - we also had basically this schedule before 2013, where we never went to DCMP or CMP except off the waitlist, so take that how you will.


My team qualifies for DCMPs every year (except 2022, because we were all rookies and did badly at 1 of our events) and has gone to CMPs 13/15 times of its history. We meet Mondays-Thursdays, 6-8:30 and Saturdays between 9:30 and 3, I feel like this is plenty of time to be completive, as long as you use your time fairly efficiently. If do this then you should not have to stay late too often if at all.


My team falls far short of “DCMP yearly”, but I’ll post hours for a comparison anyway:

Autumn: ~6 hours / week (and many of the “preseason” meetings are optional)
Build: ~18 hours / week (the minimum hours to be a team member is 4/week)
End-of-school: ~3 hours / week (if we meet at all then)
Summer: no robotics

However, the distribution of hours is very uneven, as some students put in upwards of 100 build hours whereas others only show up for the ~30 hour minimum attendance.

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I’ve seen teams seed 1st and qualify for CMP on 8-10 hours a week during build and little to no offseason.

The number of hours does not matter. The way that you use them does. Build simpler.


Thanks for the response. I’m a bit skeptical. Is there anyone out there who meets my definition of competitive with this few meeting hours per week?

There is no answer you will be happy with, then. Meeting more will not give you a more competitive robot. Drive practicing more? Sure. Meeting more? Won’t change a thing. Work will expand to fill the time it’s given.

Your definition of competitive is extremely vague. In 2019, you could very easily make CMP with an everybot and a couple hours of drive practice each week.