Petition: Lower technical foul values to make this game better

**The 50-pt value of technical fouls are very influential in this year’s game. Many of you have voiced your concerns. **

So, I did some math homework tonight to assess the situation. Here are my observations:

  1. We have played 49 regional final matches so far. Average score in the finals is 106 pts (before fouls). 29 of these matches (59%) were decided by less than 50 pts. In other words, one technical foul (calls or non-calls) would have swung the outcome of these very important matches.

  2. Most of the G40s called were inconsequential (e.g. human players over-stretching their arms a little bit.) These are very hard for referees to judge reliably. *

  3. In week 1, alliances who were penalized by technical fouls may not know which team or which play caused the penalty, making it very difficult for them to adjust.

If you feel the same way as I do (or differently), please comment below.
(Yes for support, No for no support; either way, feel free to elaborate.)

FIRST is about encouraging students to pick up STEM. I believe this game could do a better job at that by adjusting to actual plays. The finals would be even more thrilling and engaging.

Thanks for your help.

EDIT: – It’s week 2 only, and rules do change to gain clarity and effectiveness in achieving the goals. GDC cannot possibly predict the impact of penalties perfectly every year before the build season starts. In other words, it’s not too late.*

As much as I would like to see the point value for a technical foul to go down, there is a point where we can’t always get what we want. If we were able to complain about a rule enough to change it there really wouldn’t be a point in having rules.

I think that we should all try to get used to it with the 5 weeks of competition left and try to make the best of it.

I think that it should stay the same. The rules were released with the fouls/point’s in it. Teams should have built robots that did not break these rules. In the case of G40 its a safety thing more then any thing else and should be followed regardless of the intent of the contact.
It was a design constraint from the very start, or at the very least the drives should know how to not break the rules.


I see a lot of people (not necessarily this OP) talking about how it is “impossible to make up 50 points”. This may be true - catching up the equivalent of a 3-assist-and-truss-high-goal is not easy. Defense this year makes it harder.

In 2013 a tech foul was roughly equivalent to 7 discs. 7 discs weren’t a lot by the end of the year – but wait. Discs were a capped resource. It could have been literally impossible to recover from a technical foul last year, if both the alliances were scoring all frisbees and all climbing to 30. Should the value have been reduced last year?

Same question applies to 2011 and penalties.

The core reason for me taking the time to analyze this:

**Would this change improve this game’s ability to achieve FIRST’s goal of increasing high-school students interest in STEM?
Would love to hear your thoughts.

Re team’s ability to recover from a 50-pt foul? The statistics for the finals is: 41% yes, 59% no.

I do not know if I’m for changing the rules this year that is a tricky subject since teams have spent a long time designing for these rules.

I’m definitely for FIRST doing a better job with game design in the future, the weights on these penalties and the pressure they put on the referees doesn’t allow our sport to be as compelling as it could be.

The refs in FRC have one of the hardest jobs, because in most years it is nearly impossible to be completely correct all the time because the rules and demands of the position don’t allow you to be. The field is too large and you’re always going to miss something that according to the rules has to be called a penalty even if it has no effect on the outcome of the match.

Having just gotten back from an event, a few thoughts… In some cases, a 50-pt foul is completely appropriate. Looking at a single elimination match this afternoon in which there were two technical fouls called (one on each alliance), the penalty was appropriate for the action that caused it. The first was a G28, in which a full speed collision, combined with contact inside the frame perimeter, resulting in a part breaking and a robot’s radio dangling on the field, putting that robot out of commission for the entire match. The second was for a G30, in which a robot tipped another robot, paused, then continued pushing until the other robot was completely down, putting it out of commission for the entire match.

These matches were typically around 100 points, and loosing an alliance partner significantly decreases a team’s potential total (it eliminates an assist from every subsequent cycle and forces the alliance into a 3v2 situation, putting them at a disadvantage both offensively and defensively). A 50 point penalty, IMO, is entirely appropriate.

On the other hand, some penalties do seem to be more than they’re really worth. For example, receiving a technical foul for accidentally herding the other alliance’s ball for a few seconds (G12).

As for G40, as was specifically mentioned here… I personally see it as a safety issue, and as such deserves a strict penalty. I don’t think there was a single G40 called in the LSR elimination matches this weekend, though - FIRST’s update last week really seemed to make sense, the refs were calling it appropriately, and over the day thursday and friday teams learned how to avoid it.

And for those wondering, I found the LSR elimination matches to be some of the most entertaining, suspenseful, and exciting matches I’ve ever seen in my 8 years of doing FIRST. This really did turn out to be a great game.

I believe that for the technical fouls the hard point value of 50 points is appropriate however it is the slight/inconsequential violations that are ruining the game.

More discussion of a similar issue:

G40 is the equivalent of an offsides in football giving 7 points to the other team.

Would you even consider scoring in football to be a good indicator of performance at that point?

A little more thoughts:

It’s more fun to see engaged students focusing on scoring, playing great D; rather than them focusing on avoiding big fouls.

Yes, safety should be high priority. No doubt. It’s always a balancing act. Keep the discussion going!

Yes. Oh, please, yes.

Jim Zontag of 33 did OPR analysis that said that a tech foul was literally twice the average contribution of a team to an alliance in week one. According to TBA insights data, the average match score this week is 55–essentially the same as a technical foul. This is unhealthy, and should be changed.

Imagine if in 2013 the tech foul was 50 points (that’s on par with what is is now, comparing tech foul to average alliance score). You would have had to score an extra 17 discs to make up for a tech foul. That’s more than 4 cycles. Even over your entire alliance, you could not make up that kind of point gap. There is just no way to cycle four extra times in a match. The 20 point tech foul we got last year was 7 discs, just barely possible to make up with huge cycling performance and good defense. It was harsh (and did decide matches) but wasn’t always a death sentence to an alliance.

A technical foul should be something that’s high enough you’re never going to accept it for strategic reasons. There might be a few situations (especially last year) where taking the foul made sense, but even last year it never made sense strategically to get a tech foul. I’d argue that given average scoring this year, you’re properly motivated (to never get a tech foul) by a 30 point tech foul. 50 points is excessive. You’re no more motivated by a 50 point foul than by a 30 point foul.

Another problem is not all teams are smart and not all teams know the rules. Top teams will do their very best to avoid tech fouls (in any game), but not all teams can be counted on to act that way. In quals, you can be screwed by a randomly paired team’s human player accidentally inbounding a second ball. Boom. 100 point penalty. You just lost the match. A ref thinks their HPs finger goes inside the safety zone? You just lost the match. They poke their intake into another robot as they’re trying to get the ball? Lost the match. The opponents ball accidentally lands in their robot? Lost the match.

Fine. FRC isn’t all about winning. But some of us do care about whether matches are won on the strength of the robots or on a momentary mistake by one team. That effects the level of play, and therefore whether or not were really meeting our goal of changing the culture.

FIRST needs to reduce this excessive penalty.


The intent of the rule is so people don’t get their arm ripped off when they get snagged by a robot intake

It is hard to say that a similar hazard exists from an off sides in football

That’s a bit of an exaggeration. Teams/students are consistently around operating robots on the practice and learning to work safely near machines is part of being on an FRC team. The rule could be “don’t get your hand/arm near a robot and don’t leave in the field for too long” and it would be much more enforceable and just as safe. If you’ve been in FRC for any reasonable length of time you have probably been hit by a robot and you probably weren’t injured. I am all for safety but 50 points for pointing too enthusiastically with no robots around is extreme.

Again the rules are the way they are written this year, but they should be looked at closely and drastically improved in future years.

Large hits in football can and do cause severe injury, including broken bones, paralysis, and brain injury.

Safety is an issue. But would people really be any less safe if they were only penalized 30 points for going inside the safety zone?

Another solution is to make G40 a yellow card. It only hurts the team that breaks the rule in quals, and is extremely severe, just like a 50 point penalty (which seems to be a plus for some people). Teams won’t win or lose on G40 infractions any more, and the team that violates the rule will be extremely careful from then on.

Yes. Throw up a poll in the thread?

Something should change I agree. Technical fouls swung the finals at the Arkansas regional. Technical fouls called and deliberated on after each of the last two games were over and not in real time were levied on the blue alliance. These technical fouls changed the results of the regional finals.

The technical foul levied in the last game was not even G40 but the herding the opponent’s ball penalty. I challenge anyone to not accidentally bump the ball in the high intensity, and high contact match of a finals game.

This particular game puts too much control in the referee’s hands with the size and human judgement aspect of the penalties. An honest mistake on the referee’s part can literally cost an alliance an entire regional championship.

Two weeks of regionals have passed. Changing this now would no doubt anger any teams who were negatively impacted by 50point TFs in those first 2 weeks. Yes, the 50 points is harsh - but I think it needs to stay as-is for the remainder of the season. Hopefully the GDC will take note of threads like this and factor these concerns into future game designs.

On the other hand you will anger future teams by keeping this rule in place. So if in any case someone will be mad you might as well make the game better for future players. Although I have a feeling that it will be left until next year.