Pressure on Drive Team

How much pressure is an appropriate amount to put on your drive team? I ask this question of students, teachers, and mentors alike. How much pressure do different members of your team place on the drive team itself? Is it enough that at the end of competition they go home and are asleep by 8:30 and don’t wake up until 15 hours later? Or is it so little that they hardly mind the outcome of a match as long as they have fun? Is there a “right” amount of pressure to put on a drive team? If a member of the drive team makes a critical mistake, at your first regional, should they be “fired” and replaced? Or should they be given time to relax and become more comfortable with the robot?

Please, don’t argue with anyone’s posts in this thread. A statement of how your team does things will be fine…there isn’t a “right” answer…I am interested in seeing how others do it.

Well from my experience as a coach on the drive team, I’d love it if everyone did everything possible to remove pressure. Our whole operating team is so $@#$@#$@#$@# nervous whenever we go up. the 15 hours of sleep after competition is no exaggeration. Of course, i may be a little biased because im one of the people making decisions on the team, so i sorta put the pressure on myself, but im pretty sure that even without their team bothering them, any drive team has more than enoughs stress.

I don’t think it’s too much to ask that your drive team get at least an 8 hour nights rest. I feel the pressure can’t be put on the driver but has to be applied to the coach. There the ones who really make it happen.
The best driver is one who can ellegantly operate the machine and is excellent at taking direction. The outcome of a match should really be decided by the coach who is running strategies through his/her head and telling the drivers what to do.

we do feel the pressure but the team member are told to yell at the coach

as a driver… i knew that there would be a substantial amount of pressure to perform well at regionals. however, i was also prepared to take this pressure, no matter how much was set upon my shoulders. upon signing up for this position, i knew that pressure would come my way, and i was willing to take it all.

i am fortunate enough to be on a team where my peers are more encouraging rather than being negative after a bad match. they suggest better ways of doing things, as opposed to trashing the way things were done before. being a driver for four years, my mentors know exactly how much pressure I can take from them, and they try to avoid pushing me over this limit.

also, i am not only recieving the pressure, but i also tend to pressure my team mates, and especially the rest of the drive team. teamwork is necessary when driving, and i expect the arm operator to do exactly what we’re being told to do, and not doing whatever he wants.

all in all, pressure from our peers and mentors is needed to perform well. pressure to an extent is good, and it keeps the drivers on their toes. however, once a person pushes the drive team over the edge with this pressure, then things can turn ugly pretty quickly, and this should be avoided (afterall, we are here to have fun arent we? :yikes: )

the drive team puts enough pressure on itself that they really don’t need other people doing it for them.

if a coach is applying pressure on a driver, then you really need to find a new coach. This year, the coaches only job should be feeding balls to the human player, and maybe watching the other side of the field to alert the driver to opportunities that may present themselves. all strategy and decision making authority rests within the driver, as he or she is the only one who can truly affect on the spot decisions. trying to have a coach making the decisions and then telling the driver what to do allows for way too much confusion in a match - concentrating all of that strategy within only the driver eliminates that confusion.

don’t be hard on the drivers, just trust them to do what it is they do.

15 hours of sleep… are you kidding? I’m lucky if I get 4-5 at a competition, and I havent noticed it affect me adversely yet!

I think that there shouldnt be much pressure on the drive team at all. I believe they do their best when left to do their own thing.


after youve been doing FIRST for several years you realize you cant take the competitions too seriously

on our team we designed our bot to perform certain functions, and we see the competition as a chance to see how well we designed and built it

so we measure our success based on how well our bot does what we wanted it to - and all we ask from our drive team is to do their best to make the bot perform the way we intended

and we also stress that 25 of us spent 6 weeks designing and building this thing - and they only have 2 minutes on the field to make it do its stuff, so if the match doesnt go well they should not feel like they let us down - because they are only a small part of the whole team

if our team was perfect our bot would be perfect - it would do everything and do it well - it would be a dream to drive - a child could operate it

but we never had a perfect bot - so the driver has a less than perfect machine to work with -why would we expect the drive team to be perfect?

If we succeed, we succeed as a team

if we fail, we fail as a team

but either way, we are a team - we go home together

and celebrate our accomplishments, whatever they are

and try to learn from our mistakes.

let me clarify. I am not saying that the drive team should or should not get a certain amount of sleep. I am saying that because of the amount of pressure put on them they went home and simply couldnt function, so “crashed out” for a LONG time.

15 hours when you get back from competition. I do about the same during the competition. I really run on adrenaline the whole time. [edit] too late with the post, but “crashed out” sounds just about right [/edit]

As for the coach not being able to make decisions, i dont agree. I think i have been pretty effective at coach but this is because i had experience driving at the last regional. I really dont think anyone should be coach without driving and playing a couple of matches (at least practice rounds). You really need to know what your robot can do, and you cant get that from watching.

that’s beautifully said, Ken, but when the drive team is some of the same 25 that gave their time, its hard not to be really stressed out. It becomes 2 minutes that have to make your 6 weeks worthwhile.

i know (from experience) how much pressure the drivers put on themselves. i know the thing that gets me all nervous before a match is if im going to perform well or not. it’s in the back of my mind all the time in competition. i can’t help but think, that if we lose a match, it’s my fault. we (as many other teams ive seen) all have great robots, very capable of winning, so it seems like if it’s not a technical problem, it’s all driver error. despite all the encouragement i get from the instructors and team mates, i still get REAL nervous. giving drivers any MORE pressure will probably not help them out at all.

Max - we got picked by 211 to be alliance partners at Pittsburgh - when the elim matches were starting our two drivers were in the pitts, half asleep on the floor

not that they were up all night - they were just very relaxed and laid back

BTW - are you really an engineer? 17year old engineer? thats amazing :^)

A driver feels all the same pressure a star athelete would on a football team before their homecoming game…and this pressure is felt every match.

This is coming from a four year drive team member and lifelong basketball player…remember experiance varies with everyone.

This is a hairy topic…Its similar to that of sports teams…being on the drive team means that you are accepting a certian level of pressure. Its no different that being on a basketball team or football team or whatever. And if you make an error or lose a match just get back up and try it agian.

The amount of pressure really does stem from the drive team and the personalities is the point im trying to make.


hahahah, well i didnt want to put student because i want people to know what my function on the team is. As you pointed out, the thing that might stop me from calling myself an engineer is experience, but what im doing can’t be mistaken for anything other than engineering, so there i am. We have essentially a single mentor (though a dedicated one) involved in robot design and construction, so basically everything is up to the students. Another reason we are stressed like hell.

As a fellow driver, I can tell you how it works on our team.

The drivers and the robot are the real “avatars” for teams, as the robot is what several people have labored over for several weeks and the drivers are the ones who best qualify to operate it.

The drive team is responsible for getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night, and we spend a lot of our free time concentrating on the game, thinking about possible strategies, and going over future matches in our heads.

The team itself gives the drive team fairly free reign - as long as the drivers act responsibly on (and off) the field, no blame is given, and the drivers appreciate that. Mistakes can be made on the field, but as long as they are learned from, it’s okay.

Pressure imposed on the drive team from external forces (team memebers, mentors) is, in my opinion, unjustified and possibly harmful. A good driver is under pressure already - as an avatar of the team, it is his/her goal to present the team is the best possible manner (once again, on and off the field), and this pressure to perform to one’s best in every way is more than enough pressure for any individual. Outside pressure can only distract a committed driver from his goals.

For the most part, it’s up to other members of the drive team and the team itself to recognize when a drive team member is pressuring himself/herself too much, and try and loosen them up a bit. Sure, matches get lost, bad things happen, you make a terrible mistake that costs your alliance the game - but don’t focus so hard on your failures that you are unable to succeed.

I’d say these are distilled words of wisdom from our drive coach, Andy.

Well, being a new coach, I think there is a very fine balance of “pressure” or rather teamwork that needs to be applied within the driveteam. I do not feel that a driver or operator should be the ones making all the strategy decisions. In this game especially, there are so many things going on, that there is no way the driver can see what the best move is all the time. That’s why you have a coach, operator, and human player as extra sets of eyes.

Now depending on the experience level of the operators, they can make their own decisions at any given moment to the best of their ability. Veteran operators have a hand up in the decision making capability. Rookie operators would probably need more coaching. Rookies may also feel more “pressure” simply because they don’t have the experience at operating or strategy choices, and they are always trying to do their best.

I do feel that the driver and operator need to have a very good line of calm communication, because they literally have to work together in operating that robot. As far as the coach is concerned, I think one of their main roles is to guide the strategy, while taking as much input from the student operators as possible. I think that some level of strategy should be thought out before you get to the field because that also eliminates confusion on the field. I think if all 4 drive team members have good communication, trust, and teamwork, the confusion factor will be minimized, if not eliminated.

As far as one of the original questions, I don’t think that so much pressure should be put on the student operators that they get flustered and pressurized on the field, or they may wind up making unnecessary mistakes. Nor should they be “fired” if they make a couple critical mistakes. It’s a learning process for everyone in many aspects. Each team needs to figure out what the right balance of seriousness/pressure and fun is for them, because we are to have fun, as well as go far in the competition.

This year we had driveteam try-outs. We had several candidates for each position, gave them all chances at our first regional, and by Friday morning, felt comfortable to narrow it down to one person per position based on various aspects of their performance.
Regardless, the drive team needs to know how to work calmly under pressure. You may have other team members critiquing your performance each match, but it’s typically constructive criticism to help you improve and tell you things you may have missed.
There’s always times where students/adults will freak out during matches, but in my opinion, as long as it’s not 100% of the time (or even 51%), you’re probably doing ok.

Everything’s not always about winning (even though it’s great to win!). Mistakes happen, everybody makes them, learn from it and go on. And the amount of sleep… depends on the person, but 7-8hrs should do…

and by the way, I don’t think any member of the drive team should feel they need to take full responsibility for losses, mistakes, etc. And nobody else should make you feel that way. If the drive team is being “blamed” for everything that goes wrong, then it would seem there’s something wrong with the level of team support. If you put the blame on yourself, buck up and remember that you didn’t (and shouldn’t) make every single decision that led to any result. Same goes for winning. Chances are, there’s a large number of people involved in the team’s results, not just the driveteam.

I think that’s how we do it…

Ideally, the drive team has no pressure.

Realistically, there’s pressure from everyone.

But you know what, after three years, I’ve learned to simply tune it out. As the lead driver on my team, even with an almost completely untested robot that didn’t work nearly up to par (we’ll be fixing that tomorrow, don’t you worry ;-)), I was under a lot of pressure to make everything work as it should. Well, obviously, things broke, things failed, and I didn’t drive as I should have, had everything been in mint condition.

So, I went out, and I drove, and I had fun, and you know something, we were regional finalists. No one expected that, and from the moment I stepped on the field in elims, it was all fun. Pressure was gone, if I didn’t win, well, we made it to the elims with 1/4 of a robot, we won in the game as far as I was concerned.

So, long story short, drive teams, don’t pressure them more than you need to. Veteren drivers will be able to do most of the stuff by themselves, and be pretty relaxed. New drivers, the opposite applies. Just remember, FIRST isn’t about the robot, just have fun, meet new people, and try to learn something new. Killing yourself with inhumane amounts of pressure just isn’t fun for anyone.

I’m surprised no one made any pneumatics jokes yet… :-p

OK this what we do.

Our Drive Team is not just team members that just drive the robot. The Drive Team are made up of the hardest working people on the team. I mean the ones working on the robot. This year we have 4 members on the Drive Team and those people include the one who operates our CNC machine at school and those basically everything else. this is the driver. He is the driver. then there is Shervin. He is our programmer and he does some machining. He is the operator. After him is the human player, Matt. He does some machining and stuff. Finally there is me. My name is Ali and I do some machining and I am back-up operater and full-time coach. We are the only ones that work on the robot so we know the robot the best and therfore we “play” with it.

I might also mention that even though we are a eight year them, Jeff and I are only Juniors and Shervin and Matt and Sophmores. We are the most dedicated and the smartest ones on the team

So thats basically what we do. There is more that I can only tell you in person.

Oh, I have a question. Why is it that that the Drive Team for other teams are madeup of people who don’t work on the robot? Just asking.