Need help with scouting

My robotics team is small and during actual competitions we can barely get two or three kids to scout because they’re busy or just don’t want to do it. This past year we ended up being an alliance captain at both of the events we were in but our scouting system was horrible and we had hardly any usable data to pick alliances. I really need advice on how to motivate kids into scouting or if starting an alliance with another team may benefit us with scouting.


There’s a few apps out there that make keeping track of scouting easier, have you tried using those? Might make it go quicker

Do you have any recommendations for an app?

I personally haven’t tried any, but there are a few on the iOS and android app stores.

You can also combine resources with other teams at your events.

Teams that share in the scouting duties share the scouting data.

Contact teams attending your event prior to the event and ask if they’ll allow you to use their data in exchange for supplying some scouts.

This. Our Hub teams try to combine our scouting efforts at most regionals. Makes the task a lot less stressful for the teams.

My team uses Fulcrum to capture Scouting data. Fulcrum is better than google survey because based on answers that you give it it will show more or less questions. The scouts can use their phone to track the robot they watch. Fulcrum can also be sent to the pit so your game strategist see the performance of the alliance members. The con is you have to pay for it monthly.

Others have seconded this, but I think it bears repeating. If you have a small number of students available to scout, talk to another team and offer to have them join their scouting ranks. It will get the scouts some experience but will still leave them free to take shifts away from scouting and not just be stuck in the stands all day.

Make scouting mandatory to everyone not in the pit or on drive team. This is what my team does to get good data. Also, create a scouting schedule before the competition. You can assign your scouters to a 10 match block to allow them to plan for having to scout at a certain time.

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We use the Robot Scouter android app to pit/match scout. It’s super flexible and we love using it (disclaimer: it’s made and actively maintained by an alumni of our team). In addition, we try to gamify the scouting process and keep a scouting leaderboard, and reward those who scout a lot. In our experience, it creates a better scouting atmosphere and is a lot more effective (and more fun) than “requiring” everyone to scout.

My former team started using the Tableau software last season that we get in the KOP. It’s a pretty good software for compiling data and provides a good idea of how teams are performing. It does take a bit of learning if you’ve never used it before but if you have any Excel users, they can pick it up pretty quickly. I’m sure other teams on CD could give you a lot of information on how to use it successfully.

As far as motivating students to scout, there’s no single, right answer to that. Hammering away how important scouting is during the course of competition helps a bit but ensuring that someone doesn’t have to scout the entire day and having a team that can rotate in and out, can prevent the initial fear of being stuck with a pen and paper the whole day.

We are also a small team. About 2 years ago we developed something we call “scouting lite”. We had just come off 2 years of having more students and great scouring date. You can get the majority of the information you need with as little as 2-3 people scouting each match. We don’t feel like we have lost a significant amount of data.

Message me with you email and I’ll send you the powerpoint from the getting your name out there and scouting lite presentation we just did.

As for motivation I’d make sure the students understand the importance of scouting (should hopefully be easy if you made captain and didn’t have good data), and personally I try to make sure that the leaders are doing the grunt work too. I’ve been the scouting mentor for my team the last few years and the students always see me focused and filling out the forms beside them; I’d probably get only half the students if I took one of the easier jobs or “supervised” all event. Plus if I’m filling out the forms I know that I have at least one good data set each match.

But it really is true that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink. If there’s another larger team that is going to your events then I’d approach them and ask if they’re willing to partner up for scouting, even better if they’re nearby and you can practice scouting before your first event. 2-3 students, or even 4-6 is frankly too few in my opinion to comfortably get good scouting data, and teaming up will most likely be the best option even if you can get more students motivated.

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I know that my team used the people in the stands to do scouting, but it was a dreaded role due to lack of motivation. Scouting is pretty abstract, and it’s tough to get kids to get that into their heads that it’s important.

Thunderscout or FRC Krawler are both really good, with simple analytics and the ability to export data. They also both work offline and communicate/sync data over bluetooth. The problem with them is that they only work on Android.

Some teams use a superscouter approach in addition to traditional robot/scouter scouting, but I think with a few additions it could be an effective alternative. The basic gist of it is that one scouter is assigned to each alliance and ranks each team on the alliance 1-3 in a few categories, usually these categories are ones that are difficult to scout quantitatively such as speed and pushing power. If you were to employ this scouting strategy to skills in different areas specific to the game, such as scoring in the switch, or scoring in the scale. With relatively little analysis you can get a decently ranked list for each part of the game. Although this is not an ideal solution, and if in any way it is possible to get quantitative data you should, this would certainly be an improvement from having two people watch and make a list by hand.

I see you’re competing at Oklahoma and Central MO. We’re not going to Oklahoma this season, but if you’d like to partner with us at Central MO, we’d be happy to work with you. We have a fairly well-developed scouting system that can provide useful data both for upcoming matches and in a large-format for building a pick-list. Message me if you’re interested.

Gamifying scouting sounds very interesting, can you further explain how you did this?

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Give this a try: First Match Scouting System for 2019