Next year, there will be some juniors who haven't been to a competition yet: What to do?

I’m sure most teams are going to be dealing with this in the 2022 season where team members have been to very few competitions. This poses issues for general team experience, technical knowledge, and more which we would like to avoid. Obviously, there was opportunity to remedy this in the 2021 season but multiple factors (not being able to meet in person for extended periods of time, funding, etc.) stopped us from doing this. If I could go back in time, there are 1000s of things I would change about how we ran our team/season in 2021 but no reason to dwell on that.

What should we do between now and the start of the 2022 season to prepare our team and get kids to a level of adequate preparedness? What is your team doing?

I’ve had a few ideas:

  • Build an EveryBot for underclassmen to gain experience and then submit that robot at an offseason along with our normal robot ($)

  • Build an entirely new offseason bot over the summer for 2021 ($$$)

  • Rebuild all of our mechanical and programming training programs which we should do over the summer anyways. (?)

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4130 does this every summer, and this has probably been the most effective training item we have ever done. We tend to call it the “Freshman Bot” as only underclassmen are allowed to work on it.

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Since we did not build a new robot for the Skills Challenges but just iterated our 2020 robot to improve it, we’re going with an off-season/summer robot build this year. It does have the goal of teaching the younger team members (mostly freshmen/rising sophomores) about design and build techniques and is also allowing our older members to experiment with some designs they had wanted to try for 2021 but hadn’t been able to execute due to Covid restrictions on team activity. We’ll be entering it (along with our 2020 robot) at our fall off-season events here in NC (THOR) as two sub-teams (FIRST NC allows this for THOR, since only some NC teams choose to participate and it helps flesh out a full event field.) It will give our younger members direct event experience as well, including drive team experience, which will be very good for them going into the 2022 season.

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Your best bet is to make sure you have all the basics down really really well. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember what these are, so I always look back at the Compass alliance pathways. These pathways are excellent for understand the basics. I commonly go back to them to check what we are “missing”. Often, it’s a lot more than you would think.
By making sure you have the basics down, you will be most prepared to go into the competition to iterate on the more advanced stuff. Rely on you’re mentors experience. If you ware lacking mentors, consider buddying up with another team with some more experience!
If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask!

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Thanks for refreshing my memories on this valuable resource. I’ll search CD for others. For 2020, we did not have the chance to compete and this year, we were not able to have school access to do any robots work. Of the 18 or so returning members, we will have a handful that will have actually attended any competition. We did some virtual training for CAD and programming to compensate, but I always consider the learnings from attending an event being “half” the season… Closest off season is 4 hours away, we can’t afford it… As mentors, we need to realize that preparation for next season is different and go back to some fundamentals( more than the usual ) with the freshman that will join in early fall.

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It’s going to be a little odd getting students doing scouting this next year. We will have very few students that have done it and no leads.

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This is so true. Also, with the overall lack of in-season strategy knowledge, doing mock kickoffs with old FRC games or vex games seems really interesting. Personally, I have enjoyed doing 2016 mock kickoffs as there are so many decisions to make regarding which defenses to prioritize, it shows students that it is rarely advantageous to try to do every aspect of the game, and the fun decision of the low bar. My team also did a mock kickoff of vex turning point my freshmen year which was fun as well. Bonus points if you have the students pretend to be robots and play it out (might be a bit hard with social distancing though).

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This could be good. A nice reset on “Scouting is boring” and “You just sit in the stands” culture.

There will be a lot of challenges, but a good opportunity to reset team culture on a few areas.

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This worked out well for us in 2020, when about 75% of our team were new. We went to one competition before everything shut down, and put a lot of emphasis on treating scouting as fun and interesting. A surprising number of our new members said at the end that they really liked scouting, some even preferred it to working in the pit. Here’s some tips for anyone trying to do a similar reset:

  • Make sure every kid (except maybe the drive team) does at least a couple hours of scouting, and gets to spend at least a couple hours doing something else (pit crew, media, etc)
  • Put a mentor in the stands who the kids like and will enjoying hanging out with
  • For the rest of the mentors: when you come to the stands, ask the scouts lots of questions about the other robots (best/coolest/most interesting robot you’ve seen today? any robots I should go check out in the pits? any robots with interesting auton routines? who do you think will win this next match? etc). It gives them a chance to feel like an expert
  • Probably obvious, but act like scouting will be fun. Most of our scouts had never been to a competition before, and they loved seeing all the different robots. Often they would see a cool robot in a match, and then during their next break go talk to that team in the pits to learn more about it. Some of them didn’t enjoy the high intensity of working in the pit and were glad to go back to the stands after where they could relax a little more. Some just really enjoyed watching matches. We were careful to not even joke about scouting being a drag, and approached it as “scouting is important and kinda fun and everyone’s going to pitch in to get it done”, and most kids ended up feeling positively about the experience.
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Let’s reset and end the practice of yelling “ROBOT!” in the pits.

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A no “free hugs”.

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That was a thing people did at events? ew

Are there events without this?

hugs react is applicable finally