Opinions on Drive team

Who should be Driver, Operator, Drive Coach, Technician, and Human Players?

I am currently the Driver (Was part-time HP 9 grade, Operator 10). Another student is the Operator (No drive team experience). Drive Coach is one of our mentors. Technician is highly likely to be 1 of 2 pit crew members. Human Player (3rd year on team, 2nd year of Human Player).

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Technician: person who does most electrical.
Human: future drive team
Drive team: listen to the coach, think, drive really well
Coach: whoever is best at strategy and leading (mentor or student)

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Our philosophy for the past 5 years or so has been a cycle or freshman drivers aging up into being drive coach after 2 years.

Driver 1 and 2: Underclassmen
Human Player: Underclassmen unless the game requires something more advanced like Steamworks, then tryouts for anyone
Drive Coach: Previous primary driver (generally they end up being the lead mechanical person too)
Technician: Programmer with the strongest arms, though we tend to swap this person out with others as needed (ie: another mechanical expert, electrical expert, etc…)

Right now, we’ve got 3 Freshman as Driver 1, 2, and HP. They’re all friends that communicate really well together, and they’ve been playing Forza games for years. We got him a helmet.

We also make a point to never have an adult as the drive coach. We find mentors presence commands a certain amount of intimidation from alliance partners, and the power goes to their heads. In fact, it ends up being a minor factor when we’re picking alliance partners. In our 13 years, we’ve literally only had a mentor be the drive coach for one match, and that was because our normal student coach had photo-bombing accident and split open his head.

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My opinion is… do you have a defined process for selecting the members? Is it based on measurable criteria designed to give you the best drive team and the best chance of winning? Because without that, any statements about age, prior experience, or other roles held on the team really don’t matter.


Drive Coach: Main strategy person, student only
Driver/op: Engaged students who know as much as possible about the bot
Tech: Electrical/Software
Human Player: Future Driver/Op

Driver/Operator/Human Player: Tryouts every year. Whoever is the best at that role each year gets the position. One exception is we try to avoid first years. We want them to get some experience on the team and understand what competition is like first.

Drive Coach: Mentor, someone who deeply understands strategy.

Technician: Student, lead programmer

We kind of did, it was mainly the students that had the most experience on the team that were willing to be Driver and Operator. Anyone can be Human Player from freshman to returning. We swapped people out even on qualification matches. Not so sure if our mentor is willing to give up his spot for a student who wants to be on drive team but Drive Coach is the only one available. Technician- we do not have a personal programmer, last year we had the strongest student to help lift the robot off the field.

We also count hours- our 2 mentors like that as a way to keep track of students’ commitment during build season. It also tells a lot about them as being dishonest about the time, taking 15 minutes breaks when we needed them for specific mechanism parts. This year is 60 hours to be eligible for competition.

My opinion of how this has been going? I do not like it. This style is not efficient at all and commitment doesn’t measure from hours but activity done. There are always a few students that catch my eye of potential and passion in FRC that I know can be reliable on the Drive Team. With the way we choose the members, freshman aren’t able to drive or operate yet as it is HIGHLY preferred that they have human player history.

No, we do not do off seasons due to budget. I know a lot of teams use it for new roles and the feel of what it’s like at an official one.

Also, our assistant mentor is retiring this year. Our lead mentor does not want to be responsible for everything as it is very long hours and for himself, it is just too much. With that, we do not know of a new mentor so 1665 may be dying out this year.

(sponsors are up to date on TBA)

For us, we recruit early for drivers. We always look for upcoming freshmen/sophomores that want to drive, and do tryouts on a 3/4 year cycle. Once we find the freshman/sophomore that we want to drive, they retain that position until they graduate. Same goes for operator. This ensures consistency and builds up valuable competition experience.

Even if the selected person is not the greatest at driving their freshman/sophomore year, by the time that they are seniors, they will become really good, because by that time they will be driving for their 3rd or 4th year.

As a driver myself, I cannot stress consistency enough. Take the time to get to know your operator, human player, and drive coach. Effective communication is key. Having the same drive team across 3 or 4 years really helps.

In terms of who we allow to tryout, it is really open to anyone. Again, once a driver wins the starting job, they are locked in on our team. We want to take people that we know will be committed for all 4 years and have contributed to the team in some way, but that is all.

I completely understand this one. As of late, we haven’t done any off season competitions. However, what we do instead is have prospective drivers practice as much as possible with kitbots/stripped down robots from previous years. We try to preserve robots from previous years as much as possible, so it gives people some practice.

It’s great that you have young talent on your team! Being more specific, on our team, I was a human player when I was a freshman, but our driver that year was a senior. We use the human player position as a stepping stone to replace a graduating member behind the glass, and it can be really beneficial; however, if you can build an all freshman drive team, you will be in a really good place 2 or 3 years from now.

This. Our team shares the same philosophy. I have seen the argument that mentor drive coaches are better for consistency, and while I agree, I think having a student serves a more approachable figure for drivers and operators. Keeping the lines of communication free and open is crucial. However, we are thorough in our selection process for drive coach, and reserve the position only for upperclassmen/seniors who have either previous drive team experience or extensive strategy knowledge, and are able to take constructive criticism.

Sorry for making this so long, hope it helped. Best of luck! :smile:

While I agree that the 4 year cycle of drivers is important, we’ve had bad experiences when we do a hard cut from one driver to another with no overlap. We prefer the driver do 2 years at the wheel, and then 2 years as drive coach, bringing up the next new drivers. Rinse and repeat.

Mentors are generally there to help pass on knowledge, but we don’t have that driver experience, so it needs to be passed down by a previous driver.


You bring up a valid point. I completely agree with you that doing a sudden change in drivers can be problematic.

On our team, we let the youngest member on drive team/prospective driver that year have some hands on experience on a practice field, so that knowledge gets passed down. I definitely see where you are coming from though.

Sorry about that, I should have done a better job of clarifying earlier.

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I am currently a junior.

In '17, the driver was a senior and the operator was a junior. In '18, I became the operator, the '17 operator became the driver. Now '19, I’m the driver.

There was talk of 330 having a driver for 7 years in 2016 when they got back up twice. How is this possible? IF 2016 were the driver’s senior year, they would have been driving since Fifth grade. And they would have been under the age limit (14).

Please correct me on this. I need the answer.

Since we do not have a consistent programmer, is there a default programming code for a west coast drive that we can just plug in and flash a rio connected to a kitbot and practice?

AFAIK there is no age limit, also the driver could have been a “super-senior”

330 is a community team of (mostly) home schooled kids (brought together through a church, that has now closed down) rather than a school, so they have it open to just about any grade. I don’t remember if it was 7 years, but it was definitely longer than 4 year, and he was amazing.

Also, from what I understand, the ages they list (14-18) are not rigid rules (especially on the younger side), but general guidelines. I know our team has had several 13-year-old 8th Graders join early.

Technician: someone who knows the robot inside and out and has at least 2 years on the team.
Driver: The fastest, best robot driver you can get, at least 2 years experience and a programmer
Operator:Simply someone that knows what they’re doing and can do the task quickly preferably at least 2 years, 1 year is fine.
Human Player:same as operator
Drive coach: preferably a student so that it is an all student driven drive team, mentors can do it too if it’s needed. At least 2 years experience and has a team leadership role past or present.

Also a fun way to do Technician testing if you are a leader of sorts, Take your robot cart into your school,large open area or place to form a track let’s say your school has a courtyard you loop around that and go to finish line. Give 3-4 people some boards and protect the robot cart with noodles, the obstacles (people with boards) can just hide behind corners, crevasses, or be in plain view. If the Technician-to-be cannot drive around an obstacle raise it up after 5 seconds. The technician cannot hit,tap or lightly touch the obstacle with the obstacle, it counts as a point deducted. The points you start with are 2 points, you either gain 1 point for every match safely completed or lose one for every obstacle you hit. There are three matches and they make one full round. You cannot simply stop for no reason, you have to wait for the obstacle to appear before stopping or moving around them. Your technician and cart must be inside a frame perimeter of your pit size without the cart or has to fit inside a 8’ x 4’ square.obstacles can switch after every pass or match. The fastest time and the most points at the end wins, if there is a tie the highest score on the game manual test or written test of FRC Drive team qualification wins. Have fun and don’t hit any obstacles if you choose this test. My team loved the test

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