paper: Subjective Scouting Booklet

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Subjective Scouting Booklet
by: IKE

This booklet is meant as a way to organize subjective scouting information into a meaningful format. Target audience is the single scout.

This booklet was created as a scouting tool. It was inspired by journals used to grade other subjects (coffee, chocolate…) in order to organize notes about attributes. While not as scientific as measured or objective data, subjective data can be extremely helpful for trying to rate several competitors in performance based competitions (horseback riding, dancing, singing…). With dedicated practice and attention to detail, subjective judging can produce impressive results.
The intention of this booklet is to act as a starting point for teams to begin their scouting programs or enhance existing programs. The booklet can be made to include a page for every team at the competition, a team list, a pick list, and a record for alliance selection and elimination results.

Scouting_booklet.pptx (536 KB)
Scouting_booklet_rev2.pptx (536 KB)
Scouting_booklet_rev3.pptx (586 KB)

For a couple of years, we have been working on various scouting systems for FRC. While objective data is great for sorting teams, choosing the 24th best machine at an event with 40 teams can be quite difficult. For this years game, only the upper 1/2 of teams could consistently hang a single tube. That means when sorting teams 20-28, frequently a lot of subjectivity is used for choosing that 3rd team.

The keys to good subjective data are:
Pay Attention- It is often hard to watch 3XXX when 217 is on the field, but remember you already know 217 is awesome. the tougher decision is whether 2XXX is better than 3XXX (picking on young teams a bit here).
Common Input: (this book is intended to be filled out by a single person). One person’s 4 may be another person’s 3, but a single person’s 4 should be better than that same person’s 3 (at least from their point of view).
Review EVERY Team-Look for weaknesses in the really good teams, and strengths in the weak teams.
Watch a Lot of Matches-Really critically watching matches will help make you a better scout, strategist, and ultimately even a better designer. Seeing a team struggle with a tube slipping around for 50seconds and then watching a similar design with a slightly different grip always have proper orientation should be a red flag to go look at both of those machines and see what the difference is. Often times the fishing pole rod, or extra 2 inch polycarb flap, or surgical tubing wrapped around the inside of the claw is a key adaptation that took a margin system to an impressive system.

I have never used this version yet in competition, but have kept similar journals for other types of judging. Please feel free to provide feedback or comments. Ideally try and use this booklet at an offseason and provide ideas on what could make it better.

Scouting is also a form of competitive benchmarking. There are entire companies that are built on the sole purpose of competitive benchmarking (JD Powers, Consumer Reports,…). If you really enjoy scouting, you may want to look into a career in benchmarking.

I like the idea and simplicity of the back pocket sized booklet. I have already printed one out for IRI and intend on using it.

I might not fully use the Spider Chart as intended but I may use it to point out robot’s key features that interest me.


  • Adding an area for previous event OPR would be a good addition to the pages.
  • As well as making the Stats box into more of a grid for multiple data points.

Looks great thank you for posting this.


I have updated the subjective scouting booklet I posted late last year. This booklet is not intended to be the end-all scouting booklet, but more as a means of getting some data to help support making a pick-list. I paired down “the wheel” to 12 categories I plan on using. If anyone uses this, I would love feedback on how to imrpove it for the future.

I am releasing version 3 of this booklet. I included some minor tweaks to the booklet, and added a “match scouting” page similar to the strategy sheets we give our coach before matches. You do not need a team of 10 scouts to have good match scouting information. The lone wolf scouter can accel in this particular area of scouting. Good scouting is often the make or break for at least a couple of your teams matches. To put this into perspective, that can be the difference between being 11-1 and 8-4. 11-1 will likely put you at the top of the charts. 8-4 will likely have you hoping to be picked.

The goal of the strategy sheet is to cover some details about what can be expected about your partners and opponents in the up coming match. To do this, I recommend watching the teams in the last mtch before your match with them. Take notes on the 3 phases of the match (Auto/hybrid, Tele-op, and Bonus). There is a big difference between “moves” and “does nothing” in Auton. A robot that just moves or “dances” as its opening move could mess with your teams Auton, so be sure to take notes on any movement during that period.

Tele-op should include general strategy and performance. Does the team play offense or defense? Howeffective are they? Do they get penalties?
Penalties can be especially frustrating. Letting your coach know you have a penalty bot on your team can help them mitigate the behaviour before the match. Partners of the best teams in the world often have fewer penalties when playing with them. I do not believe this is by accident.

Bonus needs to include wether or not they can get the bonus, and what time-frame they set up for the bonus. Often teams are not successful because they do not give themselves enough time to properly execute the bonus. Many of the highest seeding teams this year would set up for Co-Oping with 1:00-0:45 seconds left in the match because it was so important. Contrast this with a lot of teams that would have failed attempts because they waited for the “end game noise” to tell them to go to the bridge. Your notes can help your coach make your partners more successful.