Suggested goals for young teams

Being a young team is hard enough without being expected to compete at the Einstein level. It’s all about setting realistic goals. I thought maybe you’d like to see what some yound teams set as their goals:

On my first Rookie team, we wanted to be effective at scoring in our first year.
We wanted to be in the top half of the field in our second year.
We wanted to be picked in our third year.

Ok, so we failed on our rookie year, but notice that it didn’t keep us from shooting higher on our second year (17 of 54, that’s a big check). In our third year, we ended up actually picking (yet another big win)

Make your goals reasonable and keep shooting higher.

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So something I’ve found successful with a not so young team is having off field goals as well.
Submit for xxx award.
Have xxx students comfortable with yyy process/tool.
On field can be really noisy and imo can miss some of the other team improvement stuff.

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Think all this makes sense.

One of the good “hacks” for low resource teams/rookies is to keep it simple, and skip unnecessary aspects of the game. As long as your team is doing something productive (ie scoring points) for the whole match, I consider that a good strategy. 4272 did 2 extremely simple robots in both 2017 and 2018, and it worked great for us (usually ranked top 8, and always played in elims). In 2017 we ignored gears, and in 2018 we ignored the center scale. By optimizing on just a couple things, we could be the “best” at them.

FRC 7457 did a great job in 2019 keeping their robot simple, and won 2 events with it as the alliance captain. The ignored the rocket, and any kind of ground pickup. Really focused on their Hab 3 climb instead, and it worked great.

So that would be my recommendation to any rookies. A simple robot, or a well practiced (and maybe even slightly improved) Everybot will absolutely go far.

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There is only one way to be unsuccessful as a rookie team, and that is to not come back the following year. Since covid may have blocked teams in 2020 and 2021, A lot of long established teams are really sort of rookies now.

My first team, 255 were rookies in 1999. They were the Champs in 2000, but that’s not what’s important. One of the team captains had been in a street gang. FIRST was part of turning his life around. It led to a college scholarship, and a successful life as a high school teacher. Just remember what the I in FIRST stands for.

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I consider 7179 Crossfire the best rookie team of the last decade. They built a short robot focused on the switch in 2018 and made the final of the Lone Star Regional as the alliance captain. (They were on our 2019 Champs alliance as our first pick.)

Focusing on a single key task is the most important decision by a rookie. Being sure to accomplish the minimal auto period and end game tasks are important, even if the robot doesn’t accomplish anything during teleop other than driving around.

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3 good goals for a young team:

  1. Build the KOP drivetrain, and wire it well so that you will always be mobile on the field.
  2. Pick one task that is very useful and do it to the best of your ability. Consider what might complement a high level robot (translation: “What can we do while a veteran team does [2018 scale, 2019 rocket, etc.]?”)
  3. Earn some points in the autonomous period.

I think that would be my goal list for a rookie team. If your team is ambitious, the next goal would be to contribute towards earning a ranking point somehow.

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When we got started back in fall of '15 what we heard was that a rookie season was a success if you just got a robot running. I told the team I thought that would be underachieving. As it happens we had our best season to date and were #8 alliance captains. Fun times. We were too dumb to outsmart ourselves back then…

build an Everybot. Been a great strategy for young teams the past few years IMO. Team 118 usually publishes it just a week or so after kickoff

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My “good goals” for younger, inexperienced teams and team members.

  1. Understand the concepts/designs that you plan on using completely.
  • What are the benefits?
  • What are the drawbacks?
  • Why do you want to do one? (hint: “b/c everyone else does it” isn’t a valid answer)
  • Can you explain every little detail about the design to a freshman or judge and have them comprehend it all and the “why” aspect?
  • How do the key components work?/What makes them work?
  • How does every component interact with one another?
  • How is it even supposed to work in the first place?
  1. K.I.S.S. (Keep it stupid simple)
  • The number of times I have seen young teams try to tackle something complex (turret, pink arm, swerve, etc) and then not be able to execute it, is scary. Don’t be the team to show up to your first comp of the season with a non-working robot because you spent all your time working on a super complex item.
  1. 10 hours (min) of drive time before your first comp.
  • A great drive team can take a junk robot and do extremely well. A junk drive team with a great robot won’t.
  • It’s also a good idea to have this time to work out kinks in robot programming.
  1. Qualify for DCMP or Worlds on robot merit only, not from an award.
  • While there isn’t anything wrong with qualifying via an award. It’s more satisfying to qualify based on your bot’s/team’s performance b/c you then know that your hard work is paying off.
  1. Sustain the team and maintain the skills the team has acquired.
  • This is can be harder if 6 isn’t met.
  • What’s the point in learning something if you’re not going to remember it?
  1. Everyone on the team considers each other as friends.
  • This makes things fun.
  • Typically if you’re having fun, your performance will improve.
  • Nobody will be afraid to ask questions or share relevant information.
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I think the best goals are easily defined or measurable and aren’t dependent on outside factors. So, for a rookie/younger team, I would have goals like these:

  • Attend every match / have robot ready for every match
  • Get the easy auto points every match (ie: drive off line)
  • Have fewer than 2 breakdowns that prevent scoring per event
  • Have fewer than 3 penalties per event
  • Successfully complete end game in >50% of matches
  • Score at least one game piece in >75% of matches
  • Complete qualification match strategies and picklist

I would shy away from goals revolving around winning events or making playoffs as they are often too dependent on outside factors and variance. I think we know of examples where some really really great teams didn’t win or really not so good teams got picked. But, if you focus on the smaller, more controllable factors, the end results should follow more time than not.

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I believe its important to have a consensus team goal with metrics to measure the end of year results before reveal. Once the game is released, your build objectives should address your team goals. Want to qualify for district champs/world champs great. How can your team develop a product and skills to make that happen. Want to learn great stuff with friends, maybe you end up with different build objectives (not everyone is in it to maximize competitiveness). Maybe your team goal is to stretch your abilities by making a turret or articulated arm or other just to build the students. We have different goals different years. But these don’t have to be mutually exclusive either.

If you want to build for competition but are thin on student experience/skill, focus on the one task in the game at a time and do it well. In 2019, our students we in their third year but still developing their skills so we build for level 3 hab because we felt that one achievement would qualify us for worlds if we were consistent. During the season, we only missed the climb a handful of times in 125 matches. We also looked for a climb solution with minimal moving parts to simplify design and reduce failure points. Our first tournament that year, we probably spent less than an hour in the pit making repairs in 2 days. We regularly scored only 18 points a match (drive off level 2, hab 3 climb), but built with strong drive train and pneumatic wheels for defense. While our offensive contribution wasn’t much, the point differential we contributed was large. And our drive team was really good.

Point is…we kept it simple, stayed in our lane technically (didn’t place a cargo piece all season), built student skills throughout the season to allow us to be more aggressive the following season. Learned more about vision control but never mastered it. This approach allowed us build students and to compete at the highest level that year and our success on the field and winning awards was a happy by product of our approach.

This year, we are near rookie skill level again as I suspect many teams are. Fingers crossed that we listen to our own advice from years gone by.

In the best capacity you can muster, prototype the heck out of whatever game tasks you decide to tackle.

Consider using mechanical design calculators to check if your design is sound.

Ask for help, and don’t be afraid to borrow ideas from other teams, it’s what #openalliance is all about.

Drive the heck out of your robot before your competitions and make sure you are aware of any fouls.

Make sure you build within the size and weight limits, weight your robot often.

imo, build the everybot and spend your energy iterating the heck out of it + maybe adding functionality depending on the game (2019 an everybot with a 3 stage climber would’ve been an absolute DEMON to play against, especially early season)

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There are lots of great suggestions here.

For an ‘on the floor’ goal for a young team, I would put this high on my list:

Play every second of every match scheduled. Don’t miss any matches for ANY reason. Don’t even miss part of match for any reason. Figure how you can break and fix that!

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#1 suggestion from 7498 is get some experience in smaller robotics programs before taking the plunge into FRC. 7179 Crossfire had VEX experience. FRC 7457 suPURDUEper I think had prior robotics experience. FRC 7498 Wingus & Dingus had VEX & FTC experience. All 3 teams did very well as rookies with the later 2 making an appearance at IRI 2019.

#2 keep it simple but don’t restrict yourself to a single task. Good example of this is 7498’s 2019 robot where we helped with just lower levels of the rocket rather than being cargo only. Achieved by keeping the lift mechanism constrained to a single stage and thus easy build and 100% reliable. Hatches level 1 & 2, Ball level 1 & cargo ship. When executed well with an experienced driver (see above prior competition experience) that was sufficient to be a highly valued team on an alliance.

#3 be reliable by building reliable. Anything that breaks probably shouldn’t be on the robot.

I have seen two of those teams up close and their prior experience made them very unlike the majority of rookie teams. Clearly, they had analyzed the games much more thoroughly than most other rookies and chose roles that matched their abilities and they executed those roles extremely well. This lead to much better on-field performance than one normally sees in rookie teams.

There has been a lot of good suggestions given already. It would be best if rookie teams set their goals after watching one of Karthik’s “Effective FIRST Strategies” seminars.

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=karthik+effective+first+strategies

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An alliance with TWO Everybots made the Texas Cup final last June. 'Nuff said…

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