Rookie Entry Requirements Are Too Loose


Yes, it is likely that many teams are better off joining FRC after participating in the other programs for several years.

One of the rookie teams I saw last weekend had worked their way up through FLL and VEX. They had a more thoroughly engineered robot than most of the other teams and were the only rookie team that could reliably score multiple game pieces in each and every match. They were the first pick of the first seed. They could actually do a credible job of mentoring other rookie teams because they had learned how to study the rules, develop game strategies and how to build and drive robots through those other programs.


We do something like this in Turkey - When we hear of new teams we call them and ask what help they might need and hook them up if needed.


Also, these dollar amounts would not fly here in Turkey. I’m going to guess that most of my local teams who do not travel abroad compete for under $10.000/yr. you can fly and house a whole team for an event for like $1.000 (TL6.000) within Turkey. Also the resource thing, maybe wouldn’t fly either, because most of the resources still aren’t in Turkish, though we’re doing our best to translate as much as we can.

Don’t forget - the FIRST Robotics Competition is international.


We couldn’t have completed a single one of those requirements when we were rookies, and I think we are doing pretty well now. Our students in our rookie year undoubtedly got a significantly worse experience than our students do now, but the important thing is that we ARE providing good experiences now. It took a lot of fumbling to get there but I don’t think we would have a team now if stringent rookie requirements had been in place.

While it is certainly true that very low resource teams aren’t set up to succeed in FRC, it’s hard to create stiff rules around their entrance. Better requirement communication or a more formal on-boarding process can help but there will still be an element of “holy crap I didn’t understand how beneficial these other resources could be. Let alone, what those resources even were”.


Let’s try to invert the discussion surrounding what Manchester provides as resources for starting a team. Here is the page you go to when you click “start a team” under the FIRST Robotics Competition submenu under the programs menu on the FIRST website.

Click the link, read through, and ask yourself: “is this sufficient to help achieve the outcomes that strengthen the 5 strategic pillars of FIRST? Why or why not? If you find it necessary, what can Manchester do to change this? How can exisiting community members change this?”


FIRST has a ways to go on some of these pillars, but Sustainability is right there with Expand and Diversity. Sustainability is the one in question on this thread.

The resources are missing one very big one: a list of existing teams with contacts in your local area. In my experience, the Regional Director holds that contact list very close and will only pass along messages. That doesn’t readily facilitate communication among teams.

The financial resource link has a number of items which I’m not going to review. But one task that I can think of as a requirement is the complete of the business plan template provided that can then be reviewed for completeness and realism. Just walking through that exercise probably would give teams a good picture of what they need to do to be sustainable.


Yes, the requirements should be adjusted for differences in the cost of living across nations.


In order to sign up as a coach for Youth Rugby, I had to watch a number of training videos and pass some short quizzes at the end to achieve my certification that would allow me to coach. What strikes me on that “Start a team” page is that it quickly leads you down a branching tree of links it seems slightly confusing and overwhelming, even to someone who’s been involved in FIRST for over a decade. Maybe part of the “make horses drink” problem could be addressed by requiring the 2 team main contacts to go through a training process that presents them with some of this documentation and videos and answering some questions about the content, just to make sure they have covered the basics and not gotten too lost down the rabbit hole of links.


And event requires them to watch the KOP chassis videos and provides them with the instructions at this time.


Not sure if I’m adding or just repeating or perhaps sitting on the fence, but here’s my take based on my experiences:
I heartily agree with OP that it somehow seems to be far easier to start a team than to maintain one, and this is a problem. I am also on record in other threads (what topics were called when these happened) as stating that I consider teams who do not have an annual budget (excluding build space) of at least 3x the annual entry fee are living “below the poverty line”. That said, I do NOT want to “increase rookie requirements” - because teams which manage to operate below the “poverty line” may well be the not just the only way, but perhaps the best way to inspire their students. And I can’t help but think that someone raised and inspired in an under-funded environment is more likely to become the next Marcel Bich.


Starting a new team is hard and can be a drag if all you do is not win. I wish every rookie team could have an opportunity to go to a Championship. There they will see the ultimate expression of First. They will learn what it takes. They will enjoy it.

Team success is not a rulebook, team success is internal to the team themselves. It gets harder as you approach several years in as the core that started the team ages out. What gets kids, sponsors and mentors/parents excited is being somewhat successful Then that past helps propel you forward until you reach critical mass.

First should tap the breaks on expansion and figure out how to get more teams involved in the Championships especially younger teams every event should have RAS. If they want these younger teams becoming the new core then expand. Right now volunteers are already stretched way thin, it’s hard to commit to 3-days per in multiple events. With ever more events each year.


Umm im just alittle confused, I clearly stated that it wasn’t a known fact I’m not gonna go do a survey to prove the hypothesis right or wrong but I’m willing to bet most new mentors have prior FIRST experience now a days , and I’m not trolling never have I just state what I belive which everyone has a right too, not my fault if someone is offended by it.


I am a mentor for a British team. We have one sponsor who provide entry fee and around $1000 a year in build budget. The company also pays for flights to the NYC regional each year. We only run the program for students in the last two years of high school, with around 20 new students each year with a handful of the previous years students.

This is our 5th year at FIRST. We have already made it to knockout stages twice.

Under your rules, we would not be eligible to be a rookie. The difference it has made to the students is incalculable. Students have moved into STEM subjects for university, learned valuable skills and made friends from all over the world.

You use what you have. Not every team is able to pay massive amounts for budget and staff. This post is coming off as very elitist…


This could not be more far from the truth. Many new mentors are teachers with no FIRST experience. A rookie team would be very lucky to have a FIRST alum mentor.


Mark, when developing a budget for our FRC organization, we calculate the total annual cost of operations, even if the cash does not flow through our hands. It’s important to recognize and include the “externalities”… costs of participation borne by sponsors, families, community members, etc… If you do the same, I think you’ll see that your team’s budget is on par with the expectations being discussed in this thread.

$1k robot building + $5k veteran registration + 20*($375 flights) = $13.5k

Situations like yours are no longer uncommon in an increasingly global FRC. This is where an application-based screening system would shine. The application would want you to address the specific challenges you’ll face as a result of your team’s geographical location in relation to the competition venue and to other teams. In your response you’d be able to lay out all the additional preparation you’ve had to do to successfully overcome this extra difficulty.


I’m 100% on board with this along with raising the entry requirements. If you do a bit of both, you reduce that band of failure opportunities in between.


There’s an implicit central thesis to this whole thread, but it’s one I would like to see some sort of data to back-up. That implicit thesis is that a failed team is worse than a team that never happened.

We all agree that a new, healthy team is a good outcome.
We all agree that a failed team is a sub-optimal outcome.
Where I sense the actual disagreement happening is whether or not a potential team being denied is a good or bad outcome.


I think where a lot of people are getting stuck is; no one is advocating for denying people entry into FIRST. What people are advocating for is guiding those people that may not be a good fit in FRC to another program like FTC.

No one is advocating for a solution where students are not given the opportunity to be inspired. What we’d like to see is a solution where students can continue to be inspired because the program is sustainable.

If a team fails, that means any of the future students that would have joined the program no longer have the ability to. But if you can set a team up to be successful in a program that fits their resources better you will see long term inspiration.


Instead of imagining a sieve, imagine a low-head dam. Raising the height of the barrier is intended to raise the level of preparedness prior to traversing the barrier. The steady-state flow rate is unaffected.


Can confirm, we were a rookie team last year and we did not have a single mentor or even student (besides the two who started the team and our coach who coached a team in Recycle rush) who knew what FIRST was. A lot of rookie teams don’t know what they’re getting themselves into and honestly need more resources at their disposable for getting help and older team needs to make sure to reach out to rookie teams near them. If we didn’t have two teams who helped us/even gave us advice last year, we would’ve had a rough time.