Training Rookie Drivers

I have been reading through a lot of old threads, most notably this thread from 2004, and I’m thinking about what is going to be best for 229 when i head off to college next year. I have had a lot of ideas and thoughts about what may be the best role on the team for me as competition season roles around and as it is almost that time of year when teams will be deciding on their drive teams.

The question I am posing both to myself, my team, and the Chief Delphi community at large is this…

If a team has a graduating drive team that has been in the box the past few years, should they look to their younger students to continue on instead of sticking with their veteran drivers?

Obviously skill, maturity, knowledge, communication skills, and the ability to keep cool under pressure are extremely important when choosing a drive team. I am well aware of these facts. But, if your team had a veteran drive team matched with a rookie drive team that was almost, if not at equal strength skill wise, would you go with your rookies or stick with your trained veterans? Should I step down and let the future of 229 take the reigns, or should i stick with it through the end? The possibility of coaching has been brought to my attention numerous times despite the fact that 229 has never had a high schooler coach (which i know some people may disagree with). I understand that it is my decision to make, but I am interested in what you may have to say onthe subject.

I know this may not be the most complete post I’ve ever had, then again it may be the most complete post I have ever had, so post any questions you may have.


Two questions:

How many possible drivers do you guys have and is it really crime to have a main drive team and a “backup” drive team?

Drive team has never really been a problem on our team. Its really just been a spur of the moment thing. However, if you have to make a decision I say implement a test.

Our team leader this year, was faced with the difficult decision of choosing 2 out of 10 kids who wanted to be the driver for this year. The only fair way of choosing the driver was to implement an obstical course and grade according to things like speed accuracy and precision. This way choosing a driver doesn’t fall under your juristiction but falls under their shoulders to do well on your designed test.

The first two people (first and second place) should be drivers and make a “back up drive team,” so that the people who didn’t get in can feel apart of the drive team.

If it all comes down to just seniority then I say pick the older people and make the younger people backup and have them drive once in a while (an easy match)

Hope this helps

This might sound crazy to some but team 1625 has always had more than one set of drivers. Our rookie year we said anyone who wanted to drive could drive and came up with three pretty decent drive teams. This past year we only had two but some teams still thought we were crazy. This year we are planning on two and mixing and matching rookies with veteran drivers. I don’t know if this helps but it seems to work for our team.

Here are your options as I see them:

  1. Step back, let the rookies drive, and possibly suffer performance loss due to lack of experience.

  2. Drive, and let the rookies have their turn next year, When option 1. will take over, because you can’t drive anymore.

The way I see it in my situation is… I have spent 3 years cultivating my driving skills, why step out when I am at my “prime”. This is as well prepared as I will ever be to drive a FIRST robot in competition, and I think it would be a shame not to use me. Next year, a rookie who has a large hand in building the robot will take my place, and the cycle will start all over.
I can train the drivers during build season…without them driving in a competition.

This next part isn’t really on topic, but If any of the seniors in the driveteam ever asked to drive the robot, I would not hesitate to let them. They already know the pressures of being in the box, and anyone can figure out how to steer a robot.

Besides, training new drive-teams is what off-seasons are for. :stuck_out_tongue:

Drive to your heart’s content Jay. The problem with having graduating drivers step down is it doesn’t really solve anything. In fact, it makes it much harder to create consistent and experienced drivers. It shortens a drivers “lifespan” from a maximum of 4 years, to a maximum of 3 (and therefor their time to practice and learn to drive, even if they aren’t on the drive team). The problem with not allowing seniors to drive is what happens a couple years from now:
“I’m a junior driver, and my team doesn’t allow seniors to drive, so this is my last year eligible to drive. Should I pass the torch to the sophomore driver so he can gain experience this year and help the future of the team?”

Really though, it comes down to the goals of your team. Does your team want to succeed this year, or is it building and prepping for the future? Are you dabbling in new technology and design idea/philosophy to try and prep for the future? Or are you sticking by the proven and true and making tweaks to try and push you over the top?

Team 229 has 7 students trying out for varying roles on our drive team. We have had a back-up driver/ back-up drivers since at least 2004, the first year I went out for drive team.

Kellen, I have seen multiple teams use more than one set of drivers, 1547 did it this past year and seeded 8th at GTR. I am a true believer in whatever your team feels works best. Whether it is who builds, who drives, who coaches, who mentors, who designs, as long as there is some inspiring going on… but that is awhole separate discussion that happens far to often :stuck_out_tongue:

We have never wanted to use two drive teams, for the simple reason that we feel our drivers earn their position for the entire season, not just half the season. We do however bring inour back-up drive team for atleast our last two practice matches before quals begin. We do this to allow our up and coming drivers a little taste of the action so that they come back more excited next year, not so ta ht they feel like part of the drive team, because our drive team is simply a few members of 229 that represent the team as a whole on the field.

Sean, what I am thinking about is getting the team into a cycle of senior/sophomore driveteam combination, so that you always have an experienced driver in the box, and you continue a cycle of teaching, while staying competitive. This was the make up of our drive team in 2005, and we managed to have a fairly successful season.


25 has the track record of letting the seniors drive. Then when they graduate, you put a group of sophmores on the sticks, because they have one year of experience. It’s worked decently for us. We have a three year cycle, thats pretty good wed say. Our seniors go out near the top normally. And its much better to have a seasoned veteran in there, than have a completely new driver every year. We just felt mcuh more comfortable doing this. Granted, some other teams do it much differently and have equal success. We just seemed to find that it worked for us.

The way I see it is knowing how to drive the robot is only part of it you need to know the game rules before you can think about driving. My team always has the driver hopefulls take a test on the game rules. Their score on that is combined with their work time for that season and a robot driving test, the person with the highest collective score gets to be our driver.

If you want to drive go for it, let your team’s driver selection process do its job, identify the best driver. Don’t worry about there being rookie drivers there is always going be a rookie driver at some point, and from what I’ve seen they can do just as well as a seasoned vetran.

Well, every driver starts somewhere, right? Why not now? Now is a better time then later, when it’s too late. It’s better to have a lot of experiance going into a competition, then going into a competition without any. Train the recruits during off and building season, and give them a chance to prove themselves during the competition. Myself, I have a lot of experiance from off,building, and competition itself. You done get any better without practice.

our team mainly trains their rookie drivers at out of season competitions such as iri and our past year events at battlecry. also, this year we hope to be done early and get some training in with a few new drivers. HOPEFULLY THAT IS.

We dont have a rookie driver tryout. We just have the people who want to drive, get some stick time. The team gets an equal share up until the 5th week or so on the new robot. The older robot is what we have everyone drive around on spare time. Whoever has the best skills will be the one that will drive for the season. heck, last year we had a rookie driver:ahh:

I second what Mat said. The “training” that we do is just basic stick time on the old robot. Whoever can maneuver the robot the best is privileged with being driver. Anyone can be driver. However, if you never at meetings, your not going to be driver. Simply because you didnt get much stick time to practice and your really not committed to the team. To be operator, driver, or human player… you must be committed.

The problem I see with stepping down would be the inexperience. Do you want someone out there that has not been out there before and has no clue what to do? I have been with my drive partner for 2 years now. Lst year was our rookie year in FIRST but we already had stick time through O.C.C.R.A so we could drive but the pressure is alot different and we were together in O.C.C.R.A again this year and won a championship. That is where most of our training comes from. We try to do is keep the same 2 drivers together so they know what to expect and they grow together and learn together and eventually become a solid drive team together. Also as I mentioned you want someone out there who knows what they are doing and has been a driver before because they are more inclined to deal with the pressure than what a rookie driver can deal with.:slight_smile:

You should learn to give every person on the team a chance to move around the robot. It’s really motivational and also gives the team a chance to find how apt each person is for the job.

This way you develop a couple of drivers you can count on who can count on each other as well. Consider having some “backups” also. We allow our underclassmen to drive quite frequently.

Just to clarify how 229 decides drivers, as a lot of things that have been said we do.

1st, we announce when there are open driver trainings (this is for any student who thinks they would like to drive the robot at competition)

after they have driven the robots around for a while we have driver selection. This is when you are required to do certain tasks that show efficency at the controls. You are also asked a series of questions, both about the game, and the robot. This is to make sure that the drivers we choose can speak openly to our alliance partners and judges about the robot (given everyone on the team is capable of such things we just want to make sure that the drivers know the robot even better, given if something goes wrong on the field they should know exactly what happened so that the pit crew knows were to look)

After this is all done, a committee made up of both high school teachers, the college advisor, another Clarkson Faculty member, and then 3 of the team leaders discuss who should get each position based on efficency of the controls and the speaking part.

Edit: I forgot to mention that no single individual is garaunteed the spot they had the previous year. If someone comes along that is better at that position it will be the better person that gets it.

Yeah, the only thing we do is have who ever wants to drive tries out on the old bot to see how well they do and if someone is better at driving than the original driver than that peron would take over and the second best driver would b a backup just in case something happens. :cool:

A couple of thoughts occut to me…

  1. if you go to multiple regionals use two drive teams… one new and one veteran.

  2. if you go to one regional make time for the newbies to practice on your practice day. They can also run it if yo uare well ahead or well behind on saturday. Similar to subbing in the b-team in a blowout basketball game.

Me and another teammate have been the main driving team since Aim High, which was my Sophmore year. We will be also driving every match this and next year. I personally think that having a strict, dedicated, and well trained “field team” is essential to FIRST. Some teams don’t take driving too seriously, which I think is the most important part - whats the point in having a good robot without a good driver. If one person drives, the other controls the manipulator, it gives the person a chance to know that part of the robot like the back of their hand, sees how it changes and performs as it goes through matches, etc., which wouldn’t happen if drivers were alternated. Next year’s offseason I’ll be training a new team to drive, but chances are I’ll still be there with the coach’s pin.

This year we have a solid slot for driver 1 (chassis movement), driver 2 (manipulator control and movement), and human player. That way everybody can get into the zone and work flawlessly as a team. Everybody knows what to do and how to do it.

I understand where your coming from. I’m piloting our robot this year at competition and chances are, next year too. But, during off and build season, I’m going to be training the rookies for when I and my partner (2nd driver) graduate high school. At the moment, my partner and I have the most experiance out of the whole team. besides that, our whole team wants us to pilot it this year too. Either thats dedication, or we have a problem somewhere, lol. Anyways, Like I said before in a previous post, have the most experianced drivers in competition, but train rookies during off/build season.

You gotta drive that bot like you stole it man. The rookies will have their chance next year, but why step down when its your senior year. Take them under your wing and give them all the knowledge you have, but after nationals its time to “hang up the sticks” and let them take over.

If you have earned the right to drive the robot, then drive it. The rookies will understand and they someday will have to pass the torch to their own set of rookies.