Tips for transitioning from mentoring FRC to FTC

I’ve been mentoring FRC for the last 4 years but I’m switching to mentoring an FTC team. What are the similarities and differences in mentoring FTC teams? How relevant are FRC skills in FTC? What are some resources I can use to learn about FTC?


I think the answers are a little on the it depends side. Working with a team (regardless of program) is going to be reliant on age/experience of the members, resources available to the team, as well as what the team’s goals/culture are.

I mentor four FTC teams and an FRC team. We run our FTC teams (jr high) as a beginner robotics program that transitions into our FRC team (high school). Given this progression, we treat the programs fairly similar. Both programs design a robot in a 3D cad software (onshape), fabricate components using standard shop tools, program the robot to perform expected tasks (java), complete presentation documentation, and practice/compete.

Given that our FTC program is all middle school, we have to spend more efforts managing them to stay focused on tasks as well as adhering to a schedule versus our high school group which is a bit more knowledgeable and self sufficient.

For the scale of FTC, there are a lot more options for prefabricated build systems making it less of a requirement to need part fabrication abilities. This is probably one of the more noticeable differences between FTC and FRC.

I’ll plug Game Manual 0 as a resource for getting into FTC. Lots of good content about the program and some of the more nuanced topics that people often just don’t know about.


Big First question. Is it a High School or Junior High FTC team?

Other questions:
How long is the season? When will they be competing? (4 month vs 6-8 months is a big difference)
Is the team doing CAD? Do they want to be?
At what level are they working? Using nearly Kit parts only, 3d printing additional parts, cutting custom parts?


I went from mentoring well-established FRC teams for 8 years to starting an all-middle school rookie FTC team last year. A couple takeaways:

  • Going from high school to middle school, expect the kids to need a LOT more hand-holding, direct supervision, and individual attention in order to be successful.
  • Not sure if it’s normal for their age or if the pandemic set them back, but my middle school students were VERY low in teamwork and communication. Over and over, one student in each group would “take over” and start doing everything themselves while the other(s) in their group watched and got bored. It took a LOT of targeted coaching to get them able to include each other and actually share the work.
  • 2 hour meetings, twice a week was about as much as my middle schoolers could handle. It was VERY challenging with just two mentors to keep all the kids engaged for most of the meeting. We typically had four groups of 2-3 kids working on different parts of the robot, so at any given time there were usually half the kids working with one of the mentors and half the kids waiting for help. I think if we had done more hours most of the kids would have been bored for a lot of the extra time. More mentors would have helped more than more hours.
  • Just building a kitbot drivetrain was very challenging for 13 year olds with no prior robotics experience. It barely worked at our first competition, worked better at the second, and we finished our elevator kit and custom claw the night before our 3rd competition (mid-December)
  • Find out which kit/vendor ecosystem is most commonly used in your region. We got the Rev kit, almost every other team at our competitions had Gobilda and as a result they weren’t able to help very much when we had issues with our gearboxes
  • I highly recommend mechanum wheels. They are by far the most popular drivetrain, and drove circles around our Rev kit’s traction+omnis

Feel free to DM me if you have any questions!


Unlike FRC, this is pretty region dependent. Different areas will have very different competition schedules, and it can greatly affect overall season strategy.


The biggest change you need to be aware of moving to FTC is that FTC mentors need to have a hands off attitude towards the robot compared to FRC. I stress to all the FTC Mentors at our club that mentors do not design, build, fabricate, program or fix the robot - FTC Mentors are there to guide the robot build by asking pointed questions to make sure the team has thought through their choices. If you are a hands on Mentor, this will be an ongoing challenge for you. The other major difference is the challenge of squeezing everything your teams needs on their bot within the 18 cubic inch limit😁. Every team needs someone with small hands to reach that bolt holding your intake together! The skills required are very similar between the two programs, and although FRC has a more intense build season due to the time frame, success in FTC requires teams to maintain the same focus on designing a robot you can build, not one you wish you could build. One suggestion for success (if your program allows it) is to make sure your students know it is OK to stay in FTC right through to grade 12. As mentioned by others, Game Manual 0 is a great resource plus the FTC Discord channel and lots of teams put out great how to videos. I’d be happy to answer any specific questions if you send me a DM. Good luck!


It is worth noting that while the exact expectations might be different, this is not different from taking an active role as a mentor and seeking to enrich the student experience as a mentor.

I view it as a similar process to FRC, the bar is simply that getting to “you do/I help” and “you do/I watch” is significantly easier in FTC due to the scale and the knock-on effects of that. Put simply, it’s significantly easier for students to act independently when working at the FTC scale and the mentoring time balance should reflect that.


I very much know this, that is why I am asking the question. I am in Michigan meaning middle schoolers competing on a 3-4 month timeline. It is treated as very much learning skills and keeping kids engaged to make it to FRC for their highest point of exerience. If this a flagship program of high schoolers competiting on the world stage with the 6-8 month game, there is completely different advice and it will feel a lot like their FRC experience.

For middle schoolers, get them used to using tools. Keep the kids interested, engaged and learning. The hardest part attempting is keeping all kids involved. We have done additioanal projects to give other teammates stuff to do. I think smaller teams are extremely helpful.

For all, @Allison_K did 2 wonderful seminars on teaching FTC this year. My biggest takeaway (and I think her intended takeaway) was how do you get kids to grasp the concepts and move from Rote learning and doing to higher levels or learning and doing (deliberate and Intuitive). How do you empower the kids to dive in and grasp it. How do you do justice to the inevitable multiple skill levels of students in your program in a way that they are inspired, learn, and grow.

Rote Learning/doing - Using directions, written, watched, or direct telling to learn or do. Often questions like: What do I do next…, How do I do this…,
Deliberate Learning/doing: Reasoning through the steps needed to be taken, asking for guidance. Often questions like Would I do this next…, Are we trying to do… ,etc.
Intuitive Learning/Doing: Doing the steps namely without guidance based on experience. Mostly questions pushing the boundries and doing innovative things.