My Team Needs Help Scouting

I found scouting hard to do.
Why my team has never scout before.
I believe that scouting makes the drives stronger because they now what the other team can do. As a rookie mentor am asking for help. All am asking for key points to make it easier to do, where to collect data from.

I did scouting my rookie year in 05, and I found that having an easy to read form is extremely helpful. Pit scouting is also useful. Be sure to use actual data, not “rate the drivers on a scale of 1 to 10”. Also work the “scouts” in shifts, first 6 kids do the first 3 matches or so, that way everyone has a chance to go to the pits or chill and the kids all put in an effort and have a good time.

What our team does is, we have a group of people always in the audience with their clipboards and papers. THe papers have (what we think are) key points to other teams’ robots. The papers were printed out before hand and the team made a collective decision on what should be on the scouting sheet. So each scouter gets their own paper for a team and fills out/ answers the questions on the sheet. We get good info and from it, we are able to educated decisions during alliance selections

Hope that was helpful!! :slight_smile:

Welcome to the scouting world of FIRST! One of your team members came to 340 with the same type of question on our forum. On the fourth page of this thread, you will find his question as well as some of the teams responses. I hope this is helpful.

I was part of the scouting team on 384 in some part all 4 years of my involvement with them. There are a few tips and tricks to scouting I’ve found out, but I’ll ask one of my friends who is better with this stuff to post too (where are you Jeff?)

1.) Create a form. Have it easy to fill out, understand, and handle. Have
some check boxes, some written areas, and have one for every team there.

2.) Get everyone involved. I find that assigning 10 teams to a group of 2 people works great, as they work together on a set of teams, though it can be pushed up to 15 teams if you don’t have enough kids.

3.) Have kids walk the pits and stay in the stands. This allows them to see the robots up close and talk to people, yet they can sit back and watch what they REALLY do compared to others.

4.) Compile lists. LISTS ARE FUN! How much fun? VERY. Top tube scorers, best auton, etc.

5.) Make sure the kids know what scouting is for. Some don’t, and just throw random $@#$@#$@#$@# down. You don’t want that. Make sure they know that scouting is just as important as field play.

Hope this helps!

Our team also has groups of 8 that we rotate throughout the day for scouting. We assign each student a set of robots to look at, and if they have more than one robot in a match, they give the sheet to another person. Before every match and eliminations, our coach and drivers get data about their alliance and the opposing one, which helps a lot when strategizing.

We’ve been refining our scouting program for a few years, and this year’s is in the white-pages if you want to look at it. It may seem like an information overload at first, but is pretty efficient. Here’s the link:

Feel free to pm/email me if you have any questions!

Yep, what Bree said. And some things I have learned as a first year member and a continuous scouter:
First of all, be prepared and it helps to have a paper designated to each robot. I also suggest that you have one person, especially in the instance of a game like this year’s, that is solely in charge of monitoring which robot is scoring and where. Other categories on our sheets include the type of drive, and for this year, whether they were a scorer, ramp, lift, or defense, and how well they performed that. Any other strategies you notice them using should be noted as well. I also think that you could have maybe a strengths and weaknesses table. There are so many ways you could do it; you might just have to experiment until you find what works best for your team and what the drive team is happy seeing.:slight_smile:
And it helps to organize the papers in a single file folder or something, and put one person in charge of it so you know where it’s at, at all times.
It also helps if everyone in the stands or pits scouting knows what they’re doing. Plan ahead, and maybe explain things that are not common knowledge.
To be an effective scouter, you also need to remain focused and train the members of your team that will be scouting to not get too distracted by your robot, so that way your data will still be valid.

I hope this helps and if I think of anything else, I will add it.:slight_smile:

Oh, and don’t forget plenty of pens and pencils.:smiley:

Check out CD-Media for examples of pit scouting sheets to get an idea of what others do, for example, here is my team’s pit scouting sheet. We had about 5-6 people that did the pit scouting at Palmetto, and this was far too few. I’d recommend at least ten, and more if you can. (Although, part of the reason our scout count was so low was that only about four people on the team knew what everything on the sheet meant, and one (me) was busy programming/driving, so for us it was hard to assign more people, you may find that you have find a similar problem)

For match scouting I’d highly recommend using a computer application, and just going off of pure numbers. Although a team of skilled and observant scouts can probably get better information, a numerical, computerized method really eliminates a lot of guesswork, bias for “showy” teams, and so on. However, it is imperative that a computerized scouting systems get good data, Garbage In, Garbage Out, as they say. Anyway, this year we used 768’s excellent application, next year we hope to make our own.

In addition to what everyone has mentioned earlier, when you finish your form go through every point and ask yourself “How is this information essential?”. Sometimes scouting for everything is just tedious and leads to nothing. So unless you have a purpose behind a question, don’t put it on the sheet. This is how you make scouting substantially easier. I have watched teams make scouting sheets full of information that is useless and in the end the scouts only get sick of scouting. It is a long and tedious job and it is not for everybody, but it is important when the time comes for alliance selections. Therefore not torturing your scouts will help them work better and more accurately.

form personal experince here:

  1. make sure you have a group of scouters who will do nothing expect scout
  2. make up a good/easy to fill out form( dont worry about antomous mode/ trying to draw it out)
    3.rotate scouters(say after the first 25 rounds)
    4.have an organizer (this can hold your data so you can review it before pickinn allance partners)
  3. try and have area where your scout data can be put in to a computers( this year we were back loged because only one person was inputing the data)

Start slow. In the first year have sheets in a binder, second year add in a laptop, third year add in digital pictures… etc.

Don’t over work your scouts. 973 is made of 11 people. We double up on more jobs then should be possible. What that leaves me with is about, well, one scout. Last year I was the only scout, and we were in championships. Not a fun story.

Make it fun. Scouting can be one of the most fun pass times at competition. You get to go out, talk to other FIRSTers, and bother people about their robot. If you get someone who knows what they’re talking about, or is really into it, you can enjoy it a lot. Also, remember the robots as it will help you in strategy and next year when design time comes around.

I’m in my rookie year on the team, and I was one of 115’s match scouts.

A big thing you need is one pit scouting sheet, and one match scouting sheet for each team at the competition, except your’s of course.

The pit scouting sheet should be filled with info about the team’s robot’s capabilities, etc. Bringing a camera to take pics of the robots to make teams easier to identify would be nice too, 115 did it at both regionals, and pasted them to the pit scouting sheets. But that’s not really necessary, it’s really just something extra.

For match scouting, have one scout per team that is on the field, so like this year 115 had 6 scouts at work every match. The match scouting sheet should have a table that allows the scout to jot down notes of what the robot does in the match(the sheet should be made so that the same sheet has notes from all matches). For example, this year’s 115 match scouting sheet had a table with rows for autonomous, offense/defense, speed, maneuverability, ringers placed, ramp/lift, and a whole lot more.

Finally, be very organized! Order the scouting sheets by team number, and have the match scouts sit together in the same row, with a scoutmaster sitting behind them organizing. Also, make sure you pick scouts that are hard-working and always concentrating on scouting, only possible exception would be when your team is on the field, trust me, scouting a match while cheering on your team at the same time isn’t a good combo.

You could have more scouts and rotate them in and out, but that’s not necessary, I scouted every single match at Davis, and nearly 2/3 of the matches at San Jose.

Hopefully this helps, as scouting is very important for the alliance selections, even when you aren’t in the top 8. 115 won the KPCB Entreprenuership Award at Davis partially because we were really organized and hard working scouts.

After a few years of scouting, this is what I’ve learned:

Be sure to beat into the members of your team how important scouting is. You have to make sure that the data on your scouting sheets is true, or, sadly, it’s worthless.

Know how to quickly interperet the data on your scouting sheets. Have at least one member of your team who can analyze a sheet and tell you what that team is going to do in the next match. It helps if this person has watched a few matches.

Know your partners AND your opponents. You may need to suggest that a partner plays defense instead of scoring, or you may need to refrain from scoring for a match. Good data develops good strategies, and good strategies win matches.

If you choose to do computerized scouting, make sure you charge the batteries during lunch! Bluetooth eats battery power. :wink:

Make your draft list before 1:00 A.M on Saturday morning. :rolleyes:

648 uses a 2 part pit scouting and match scouting system. We divide up into groups on Thursday and each group takes a certain number of robots. We use a basic scouting sheet that is easy to fill out with a picture of each robot as well as a lot of just check boxes for things such as number of wheels and type in the drive system. All of this information gets entered into an excell sheet which can be sorted to only show the robots we are up with and against in our next match. A sheet with everything found out during pit scouting gets printed off before each match to find out what all we are up against. Before we even go to a competition though, a sheet to scout matches is made and critiqued. By watching webcasts, we find out what is easy and reliable to record during matches. Scouting is divided up in the matches so that each individual person scouts an individual robot. Check boxes and single number boxes make it incredibly easy to record information.
Good Luck

Like MGoelz and Bree said, 234 uses a set of forms. We try to be exact and accurate in our information. One of our flaws this year is that the scouters didn’t always know what to write. It might be a good idea to have a training session to clarify what you want on the forms. Also find a good way to get the information to the people that need it. Especially during Elimination matches, you must be efficient. It is a good idea to assign a scouter to each position on the field (Red 1,2,3 and Blue 1,2,3). This makes it much easier. In addition to this, it is helpful to have 1 or 2 people keep track simply of who is scoring and their quantity of scores. This year, it was important not to see how many tubes the alliance got, but which robot(s) on that alliance scored. This can become difficult when scouters are looking at multiple areas such as maneuverability and speed. Another great thing to look at is their “anti-defensive” abilities. What I mean by this is how good the robot reacts when another robot is playing heavy defense on them. Do they break down? Do they drive away easily? Are they pushed around easily? Some robots are more robust than others, and when you are in a drafting position, this can be an important trait.

Sorry, I had class.

Here are the things I’ve learned that I believe are the most important:

  1. If someone doesn’t want to scout, do make them. You will most likely get rushed, incomplete, inaccurate data.
  2. Scouts should be knowledgeable. Don’t send the freshmen who spent the whole season on the Vex team. If the scout doesn’t know what they’re talking about, you won’t get good information. Crap in - crap out.
  3. Only get relevant data. The last thing you want to be doing Friday night is spending 5 hours just making sense of all the crap you’ve written down.

Our scouting at championships was pretty successful this year, I’ll explain it. During matches we had a few people watching and keeping track of who was scoring, who was lifting bots and who was climbing bots. All of this was entered into an excel sheet. Basically, every time points were scored, we wrote it down. You can see how it all worked here.
The second part was pit scouting. We had a pit sheet that only had information about ramps and ground clearance. We decided that it was most important to know what ramps we could get up and what ramps other teams could get up.
That’s all we kept track of. Match strategy was formed based on who could ramp and how many ringers you could score. Our selection list was also based off these numbers.
We had 2 or 3 team members, an adult mentor doing data entry, and the drive team doing everything. It was a lot of work for those people, but generally I think it worked well.

There’s also a lot of information about about keeping people motivated and valued, but that’s a thread in itself. Read Coach John Wooden’s book.

Thank you to all of the teams that gave your suggestions they were very useful.

One of the cool things we do is use laptops for our scouts, and then use thumbdrives (we’re working on bluetooth) to transfer everything into a datebase that we can just querry. I am by no means a specialist in this but it seems to work pretty well from what I’ve seen, as long as your scouts stay focused. It seemed accurate at nationals…233 was the top scorer based on the database and 254 right behind them…But that may be too much of a hassle. Also you could use a database and just enter your forms into it, once again this requires a lot of preparation, but I think it’s worth it. Good luck.

This year we were really fortunate to have a mentor who taught us that organization is key to scouting. We made an organized graph for pit surveys with key information points. We then had another graph we filled out while watching the robots in matches. These were good because we could put our opinions on them. Lastly, if many people do the surveys it works better. Give one person 5 or 6 robots to really get to know. All the information we collected, whether survey material, or flyers handed out by the teams, we put in a box which had a folder for each team. That way we had fast and easy access to every team. -hope that helps.