Tips for defensive drivers

I already drove focusing 100% on defense at one regional (NYTR). Our team is now mounting mechanisms and getting our elevator working. Our robot will be scoring with the front of the bot (open frame) and using the back of our bot for defense (closed frame).
I was wondering if anyone else out there has driven focusing mainly on defense, or seen some really good defense tactics, and has some tips on how to play it well, without racking up penalties.

The best advice I can give you is to have someone in your station with an eye on the refs. There are only a handful of defensive rules this year and the most common ones will include a counting motion. If you see that, you likely need to react somehow. If you aren’t sure if you’re being counted for a pin, drive 6 feet away from the nearest robot. If that isn’t enough to stop the count, you likely have two robots on defense or something you didn’t mean to have sticking out.

Disabled robots are robots. They can “earn” and draw fouls. Please never e-stop your robot (have seen it done with the robot in bad spots).

Know the rules very well. There’s always interesting gaps in the rules that allow for some fun defensive strategies. I can see a couple this year and I’m waiting to see them in game play.


Jeff hit the nail on the head with the rules aspect, i’ll try to add some robot centered guidance.

You need to know the capabilities and design of the robots you are playing against. How long does it take them to move from rocket/cargo bay to loading station? Once they get to the objective, how long does it take them to line up? These times will change throughout the season/event as drivers get comfortable with their robot. With respect to design, how well do they hold each game piece? Can they be pushed head on and/or sideways? These are a few of the data points you can recall quickly to react to different game situations and implement into your initial defensive strategy.


Something else to note, survey the robots on the opposing side. If they can only do the cargo ship and have the potential of filling it play a zone like defense. If they have one main scorer then bully them

One thing to keep in mind is that teams with a solid swerve drive or top tier teams with experienced drivers can usually break defense pretty quickly. In some situations it might have more of an affect to play one on one defense on the second best team on the alliance.

yeah, i had this experience at NYTR with 2791. I was able to slow them down but it was more effective and earned us more wins if i focused on the other two robots on the alliance.
On a more specific note: Would you suggest “zone” defense or “robot” defense. is it better to go one on one with a robot or block their way to scoring. I’d assume it probably depends on the robot. i did both ways at my last competition but i didnt pay close enough attention to notice which one was more effective.

Instead of just banging on another bot, just try to get in the way as much as possible. Stop in front of them, tap their corners, and if there are multiple opponents near each other get in between them to make a congested situation. Doing these things slows cycles, protects others robots and your robot, and helps prevent pin counts since you aren’t pinning them by getting in their way. Create congestion, confusion, and slow their cycles down as much as possible.

Also remember that you don’t have to be doing something the whole match. If a bot you’re defending goes into the hab zone, wait for them. When they come back out, get in their way and prevent them from scoring. Usually their teammate will cycle when they’re picking up and you can slow them down too.

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  1. Increase your scoring options. The more options you have the more places you can go. That makes it harder for a defender to read what you are doing and react appropriately.

  2. Know how your robot interacts with other robots. When your robot starts getting pushed you want the pushing to be away from your turning point. This is easier for omnidirectional drive bases which can change their turning points. I actually like mecanum in matchups because a good driver can roll out of a pin.

  3. Speaking of contact, shaped bumpers can really help. Hard to push someone where you want if bumpers are angled.

  4. Coordinate with your team. Our drive coaches focus on field awareness so our drivers can focus on scoring, don’t let your drivers get blind sided.

  5. Don’t reset pins early. Pinning states if you pursue a robot that had pinned you the timer is reset. Make sure you reset pins when you have enough space to clear out and you don’t just get chained into pins.

I feel like I’m missing stuff hopefully a 1339 lurker calls me out.

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