Taking “shifts” at competition?

Currently, at away competitions (where we stay at a hotel), the entire team gets up super early, stays at competition all day, then everyone goes back to the hotel at the end of the day. Pit crew and sometimes drive team often stay especially late. I think that this is too exhausting, as the team gets very tired out and we are always falling asleep everywhere :ahh:. Are there teams out there who organize shifts for students? Or stagger when members arrive, leave, and work? If so how do you facilitate this? I would like to bring something like this to my team so hopefully everyone is more awake and enjoys their time at competition more :slight_smile:

If you are having burn out issues, shifts are definitely better that trying to organize arrival times. Transportation is the hardest part about varying arrival, as most teams take a bus, so multiple bus trips would be needed. Here are my suggestions if you want to implement a shift strategy.
Have multiple skills sets
If you plan to make a shift structure, your biggest importance is to make sure you always have people with multiple skills sets on each shift, so that you aren’t missing any major parts of your team in case of emergency. Also, having people who can talk in the pits is super important, as they can help facilitate many aspects of the competition, such as strategy, judge talks, and bystander explainations.
Stay close, you aren’t actually on break
While it is important to let students get to walk around, engage with other teams, and watch matches, they need to know you are at a competition, and they could be needed at any moment. Thus, release them, but make sure they can be contacted quickly. I’ve been to competitions where a full gear box was removed from the drive train, replaced with a new gear, and then reassembled in 20 minutes to make our next match. If our top tech students hadn’t been easily accessible, it could have taken much longer. Thus, know about where they will be is important.
Know who not to shift
While a scouter can be rotated throughout the competition, I highly suggest you don’t rotate your drive team during season competitions. Unlike sports were athletes get hours of practice and hundreds of games, drivers often get between 25 to 50 matches a season. Thus, practice is extremely critical, and they can’t afford to miss matches. Thus, how do you prevent burn out for these students? Make sure to keep those students well rested, and allow them to take time to sit down. My past drive coach would sit them down by a wall, and show them a video of the last match they played, so they could get off their feet while still being productive. Hydration is also super key, as well as keeping them well fed. Doing this will help them to stay going all the way to that blue banner.
You were up how late?
Students tend to stay up way too late the night before and during competition. From movies to late night talking, they will be up, passing the time some way or another. Even I as a student, part of the “responsible” room with the drive team, we eould stay up until 1:30 a.m. reviewing matches, stats, and the next days match ups. By merely improving this, many teams would be much more well rested for the event. Thus, talk with your students about how to go to bed at a responsible time, and not destroy themselves the next day.
Get students consent
Whether a mentor or concerned student, always remember that is partially a students decision, and shifts should not be forced unless there is consent. If the team wants shifts, that’s awesome, but as a student, I would have hated it. Forcing me to take a break that I didn’t need, when I could be helping the team would have been an absolute punishment. Thus, talk with students about what they think is appropriate, suggest to them the above mentioned things, and help them figure it out rather then forcing change. If you want shifts to be successful, you need students on board. Understand that students have different levels of capability, and they can help you design a plan that best fits the teams interests.

I hope this helps you. Having helped run a team this last year with 10 students on it, burn out was a very possible thing. Let me know if you have any questions!

The pit and driving crews don’t have shifts – pit crew fix and prepare the robot for the next match, and the drivers drive when they need and analyze every game. So they do have at least some breaks between matches.
Most of the team scouts the game. We need 6-7 scouts for each shift, and we have about 12 scouts, so we have shifts of about an hour, and then the scouts switch.

Except for drive team, we always have. We schedule two pit crews, and leave it to them to schedule when they swap out. Of course, on their “off” time, they are encouraged to look in on the other pits, to either learn how other teams do things, or help them out with problems they have. The scouting rotation varies from year to year based on the team size; it’s usually pretty intense on Friday at local events and throughout when traveling, but relatively calm at Bayou on Saturday as the load is spread out. When those on shifts get a break, some will go to the drive team to see if they can help (e.g. making a trip to the concession stand for them, or holding a place in line). And, as noted above, we expect everyone, especially drive and pit crews, to have phones charged and ringers on except when in the queue or on the field. Many mentors also volunteer to do a share of the match scouting, which eases things even more.

We don’t do shifts and after talking with teams 4063 & 1477 we have a team policy that whoever goes to the competition has a job. We have 4 kids for the pit crew, the drive team, and we try for 10ish scouts (scouts rotate their time off but every match has 6 and only 6 kids scouting assuming for 3v3 matches).

Everybody else who qualifies to go to the competition with the team volunteers for the event.

Our pit crew and/or drive team do sometimes travel to/from events separately. But, the only day this is usually an issue at a regional was Thursday when practice ends at 6pm and pits stayed open until 8 so sometimes we do send most of the team back to the hotel/school after practice ends.

On 3512, one of the students comes up with a schedule for the entire event. Our students are either scouting, in the pit crew, part of programming team, part of the drive team, or have other miscellaneous jobs such as volunteering at the event (field reset, flag carrier, judges assistant, saftey glasses table, ect.) This schedule always gives people breaks between shifts, and for food, and generally allows them some free time to mingle in the pits. Generally, the first day of competition is a lot more lax since most of scouting hasn’t started yet, so we encourage our students to go and talk to other teams.

We also usually have different shifts in the morning for leaving the hotel. The first shift leaves the hotel pretty early to get a good spot in line, and then can get a good spot in the stands for scouting. The later shift is usually the pit crew/drive team/programming team since most likely they put in a longer day the day before.

While competitions can be long, they are only a couple of days long so the students are more than willing to put in the work. It’s also helps to emphasize how important the scouting data is for alliance selection, since scouting can often be a boring, tedious job for many of the students.

My advice is have two full “pit crews” of five members maximum. When one team isn’t in the pit they should be in the stands scouting. Have the drive team bring the robot back to the pit between matches then have them step away while the pit crew prepares the robot for the next match. The drive team needs an opportunity to eat and drink. I don’t think you should have shifts with your drive team if you want to be competitive. At the very least your driver, operator, and coach should stay the same throughout all your competitions unless they get sick or something. Trust me, with a good consistent driver you can win competitions. When our intake got ruined at our first competition this season, we still made it to the finals because of our driver. Don’t switch them out at all.

Our team is pretty small in comparison to a team with the resources to do what you described in your post. Our team usually has the drive team, the team captain, and about 2-3 people that work on the robot in the pit. Everyone else has to scout. We set up the scouting so that nobody has to scout all day, and that everyone scouts the same amount.

Hope this helps!

Thank you all so much for the replies! It is very interesting and helpful to hear about many different teams’ methods. I will bring this topic up to my team and see what they think! :slight_smile:

1678 does the following at events to manage our time.

We have 2 main groups of students and adults, our scouts and the pit and drive crew.
Scouts are the largest group by a significant margin and they arrive very early to the event, often more than an hour before doors open.
Pit and drive team arrive just before doors open to the event.
Throughout the day the scouts operate in shifts in the stands so they can take breaks and check out the rest of the event.
Pit and drive operates as needed to work on the robot between matches and pit crew may need to prepare things in between matches while drive team plays a match.
When matches and any closing ceremonies are done the scouts leave the venue and head to dinner.
Pit and drive team keep working until they get kicked out of the venue doing as much work as they can until then before heading to dinner.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Our pit and drive team does not operate in shifts and are often so busy that during lunch food is either brought to them or they take turns one or two at a time to go outside to eat as quick as possible(usually just to make the pestering to go eat stop). It does depend on the event however, sometimes there can be a lot of work for pit and drive, while other times it is easy to get away from the pit.
It may not be perfect, but it’s been working okay so far.

We’ve talked about these kinds of arrangements in the past as hungry and tired scouters hate sitting idle in the stands waiting for the pits to close. Since we are usually in a bus situation, transportation has always been a problem. How do you handle transporting two separate crews?

Usually by walking, either from the venue to food or from the hotel to food. We very rarely use buses for competitions, relying on a rented van when needed. The one time we had our hotel far away from the venue(CVR 2018) we had several parent chaperones that also drove to the event and we used that to get people to the hotel. There was food withing easy walking distance of the hotel.