Motivation for scouting?


We tell our scouts each year about how key scouting is to our continuing success and giving them specific examples. This year, we kicked it off at Utah picking 399 based on data from the last 6 matches after they tanked the first 2, and 1410 off exchange and driveability data. We celebrated that we continually got one of our top 5 (usually higher) 2nd pick choices in every competition this year. Sharing these results with our scouts demonstrates the value of their work, which is just as important as our pit and drive teams.

Scouting data is what was the edge for our breakthrough in 2013 (as a 1717 mentor told me) and is what keeps us even with other teams that have deeper technical mentor resources.


As many others have said already, make sure the team recognizes the importance of scouting and make sure they realize that scouting isn’t just what they’re stuck doing because they’re not on the drive team or pit crew. They should know that what they’re doing is critical to the team doing well at the event.

Something that we did was not only use the data for picklists, but we also used it to determine qualification match strategy. We don’t usually play defense these days, but there were a couple of matches where it strategically made sense to do so based on our data.

While I’m here, I’m also going to +1 to the food comments. At times, that’s honestly what kept me motivated as the team’s lead scout. Providing lots of food to hungry students will go a long way.


No offense, I completely disagree with this approach. The best way to get good scouts who will pay attention to important details in play is to have them truly invested and interested in the game and robot. Trying to use food to “motivate” scouts doesn’t make them actually enjoy strategy or attempt to conduct it to the level of a top team, but rather makes it a task that simply acts as a prerequisite to food. It’s like giving candy to children for simply completing an assignment, regardless of the quality of it. Will the child make attempts to improve? Of course not. Second, if the senior members don’t enjoy it, pretending that they enjoy it will suck for them, and I doubt that it’ll make the other scouts more motivated. If the senior members don’t enjoy it/aren’t interested in it, why are they on strategy anyway?


You make a really valid point. From my experience people who actually enjoy what they do are best at it. Especially when it comes to things that most consider “boring.” If they know the importance of the scouting, I feel like that would be a much better motivator than making them do something they feel is pointless.


Thank you!

Sorry for the late reply. But yes, that’s what I started trying to do. I made alliances with 2 other teams, and so we only need 7 people in the stands collecting data- 3 from their team, 4 from ours. So far, we only put this in use at a preseason event, and just wanna thank you for this.



I see the fault in this approach. However, my team is around 50 active members currently. Usually, only 30 of them show up to competition, and we had it so that everyone had to scout- regardless of how much one actually liked it. Veteran members of our team would often avoid the stands, and it got to the point where there were 2 stand set ups at a competition, scouts and people sleeping. I was usually double scouting (horrible data reliability)

Instead, we made a scouting alliance with other teams, and that seems to be working out (as of a preseason competition)



Cool. I think the goal is to become an alliance facilitator rather than joining one. It would be cool to develop some white papers that outline best practices. I was entirely impressed with how 1810 treated us, made data available, etc. I’m drawing blank on our Wisconsin alliance lead but they were good but not as thought out.


For Skunk Works (FRC 1983), we try to make the scouting experience as smooth and easy as possible. We write our own scouting app for our tablets (but is scalable for any format). We make the interface as user-friendly but flexible as possible. Scheduling the scouting so nobody has to scout for more than an hour will reduce stress and frustration. As for motivation, that must be done prior to the competitions. Keep stressing the importance of scouting and why accurate, significant data is crucial to a successful season. It helps to explain your metrics and some of the technical aspects of the analysis to inspire interest and excitement. The more they know, the more they’ll be interested and want to contribute.


I think for atleast this year, we want to avoid electronic scouting. Personally, as the person running it, the fact that there is no wifi/sync method is discouraging. However, it’s gaining popularity, and as an off season project, my teammates are working on a bluetooth connectivity raspberry pi version. (I’m not sure, I’m not technical, and have an extensive amount of other projects. I should learn sometime though).

Last year, my team went to Worlds, and this taught many the importance of scouting. It is still frowned upon, due to scouting still just being manual labor. We have presentations that explain the absolute importance of scouting (Daly Division, 2018 Detroit, Alliance 1 v 8, and Alliance 8 won, partially due to bad scouting) However, they often don’t capture the rookie’s attention. Especially when we have technical projects going on during the side. How did you explain it to your team?



I copied my post from another thread that might help you with your issues. Also please reach out to our team to discuss your technical issues. We want you to succeed.

Here’s our scouting whitepapers for systems from 2013 to 2018. We’ve taken what we’ve learned from 1983, 971, 254, 1114, 118 and 148 as well as other teams. The associated threads also have useful information.

Our approach to qualitative data gathering is fairly unique but we believe that it is highly effective (although we’ve had a few “how did we miss that?” moments). We are changing our approach this year to measuring defensive effectiveness, but in general we are using the same method. We are also making a significant technical change in the visual set up as well. Come by our scouting crew at our events to see what we’re doing this year (at Central Valley, Sacramento, Boise, and hopefully Houston Champs).

2018 paper

2017 paper

2016 paper

2015 paper

2014 paper

2013 paper


We travel with only 44 students, and 10 of those are dedicated to helping other teams in the pits and working on media outreach. We have two dozen dedicated to our scouting system in some manner, so you have plenty students. There’s lots of good ideas here about motivating scouts, but most important is making them realize that team success depends on them. For us, it’s part of our triad of designing to be “good enough”, strategic drive coaching and gathering deep data for strategy and drafting.


I ran the scouting for 4327 last year, and one tip I can give you is that that the leadership needs to show that they care. If the scouting captain and the driveteam can show that what the scouts are doing is useful to the team, the scouts will be more motivated to scout well.

Rotating people through also helps. We made a schedule for each event, which I will put a picture of below (idea from another team, which I don’t remember). If the scouts can take breaks, they will like it just a little bit more.

We like to put some funny stuff and/or some motivating stuff.


The position I am pushing with the Scouting Mentor this year is that Scouting does not happen only during matches.

  1. Scouting starts during Strategy definition. The Scouting Team, or a core sub-team, has to particpate in all Strategy definition meetings to understand what the team’s game strategy will be and participate in how the team intends to mesh in with other teams in an Alliance;
  2. Scouting continues during Build Season, analyzing who the competition and potential partners will be at each regional/district tournament the team registers to participate in. That analysis should do a first rough assessment of where the team is likely, or wants, to stand in terms of competitiveness. Also, the Scouting team should be on the lookout for information published by those teams on their web page and social media, including reveal videos.
  3. As discussed, in another post, the Scouting Team may want to discuss with other Teams Scouting collaborations;
  4. Again, during Build Season, the Scouting Team needs to define the Scouting Data Collection Sheet(s) and Scouting Analysis tools.
  5. During matches, Scouting sub-teams need to run in parallel: Data Collection and Data Analysis, Match Alliance pre-match brief/negotiation and Team Briefing (Alliance make-up, role assignment within the Alliance, weaknesses/strengths of the opposing Alliance). Data Collection is labour-intensive and does require “outside” help, may they be other teams, classmates, family or friends. Don’t forget that all Data Collectors need some form of training so that the data collected be consistent and usefull;
    As you can see, being part of a Scouting team is quite an assignment. Too many people only see the Data Collection tip of the task and forget the rest.


Exactly what I did this year!

I called it Strategy- to rebrand scouting, and to cover more aspects during preseason. Strategy works of design strategy, game strategy, data analysis, and external communications.

But thank you!