Traits of the Drivers, Coaches, and Human Players


I’m from a rookie team who still has yet to choose drivers, coaches, or human players. How do you recommend we go about finding them?

What skills should these people have? We threw around some ideas, we came up with the Programming guy, because he knows the controls; the Mechanical guy who knows how the arm will work; and kids that can improvise what to do on the spot. What other capabilities should these people have?

Matt (of Team 1676)

They also need people skills as they will need to communicate with alliances. Especially important since there are 2 partners instead of 1 this year.

go to the ECDU forum and find something about drivers

Once you have a drive base complete, get the prospective drivers out and make them drive through a course and do some tasks with the robot; eg., weaving through objects, stopping/changing directions on a dime, changing speeds just using the controllers(shows softer hands). For the coach, have the driver blindfolded(if in a safe area) and again, set up a course for the driver to run through. This time only allow the coach to direct the driver(will also show ability of driver too) and see what happens. Also, test the coach and driver with some strategy ideas. My suggestion is watch some matches from last year and have them come up with strategies for/against certain robots, and see which ones sound best/were used the best in the game.

Driver-Fast Reactions, fast thinker, good strategist, great leadership ability(very important because no one wants to see a fool who disrespects others and can make a bad name for your team driving your robot), must obviously know the game, good vision, responsible, good focus, knowledge of your own robot, good hands, and a good listener.

Coach-Very verbal, fast thinker, good strategist, good vision, focus, and the ability to talk to other coaches.

edit-also, both should be able to commit to decisions fast and stick with them. Changing ideas a lot during rounds could end up hurting you.

To tell the truth, the best way to choose your drivers is to have them practice and see which one is best. Good drivers can come from any team, really.

As far as personality goes, it’s very, very, very important that they are good listeners. I know it’s sounds kind of cheezy, but last year our drivers never really communicated, and… it wasn’t pretty :rolleyes:

Listen to Cory, he really knows what he is talking about when it comes to these things. Also, make sure whoever you pick to drive knows that no matter what they do, they should always listen to the coach. The coach is the one who is watching the field and making necessary changes to the strategy. Make sure you pick a driver and operator who always listen to their coaches and don’t decide to do what they think is right. Make sure your coach can be heard by everybody. This year it is important because you might be on one side of the player station and you might be trying to communicate with the team on the other side of the player station. Communication is key and having a well prepared team behind that player station is very important.

GO 1403!!!

I think that the drivers that you pick should know your robot inside and out and know the rules of the game even better. there are some stiff penalties in this game and a driver that keeps cool and is a good listener that gets you a 30 point penalty isn’t the kind that you want. The human player should be the calm one of the group because one false move at a high point of a match right when your bot is about to cap the tetra to win the match your human player jumps up and oops there go’s the Win. The coach should be a person who can think on the fly and be able to know what the driver is going to do at every move and then be able to Guess at what the other team is going to do and able to communicate that to the drivers.

The most important quality for a FIRST driver is maturity. Unlike driver skill, which can developed through practice and training, maturity is something that develops over a longer period of time. FIRST competitions are stressful events. You need to have someone who isn’t going to buckle under the pressure. Your driver has to be able to handle being center stage in front of thousands of screaming fans. Whether perceived or real, the driver will be feeling the weight of the expectations of his/her entire team. It takes a very strong character to handle this type of pressure and responsibility. Being able to stay calm, cool and collected through all this requires a huge amount of maturity.

I like to choose drivers who’ve shown some sort of demonstrated ability in high pressure situations. People who’ve excelled in varsity sports are natural choices. But in general, people who are task oriented, possess a sense of urgency and are determined fit the bill nicely.

Another factor is aggression. You need a driver who’s not afraid to mix it up. If your driver approaches a match with the attitude of “I don’t want to break the robot”, you’re going to have a hard time emerging victorious. In this competition, you really do need to “drive it like you stole it”. That being said, there must be limits to the aggression. A driver who is needlessly aggressive and cannot obey the rules will cause undue headaches.

Make sure they thoroughly understand the rules.
They can be as talented as can be but if they don’t take the time to understand the rules and cost you matches then it really didn’t matter how fast their decision making was or how well the drove.

Great point. I’m not a driver, but speaking from my experiences as a coach last year, training around in your team’s classroom is one thing. Driving it in front of thousands with your team counting on you is another. I remember that before every single match the adrenaline rush would get me…I handled it fine, but I thought to myself “If being coach is already a stressful task, imagine being a driver…!!!”

Our team has annual tryouts…all we basically do is have our candidates drive through an obstacle course. I would suggest defining your driver(s) early during build season or even before the kickoff (if you have another bot to practice with), so that way these people can train throughout those weeks til regionals.

Oh, and another thing. ALWAYS HAVE A BACKUP DRIVER!!! Or two. You never know what may go wrong…

Best of luck!!!

In addition to what everybody else has mentioned, it is also really important that the two drivers work very well together and get to know how the other one will react in certain situations. When one is trying to drive while the other is manipulating the arm to grab a tetra or cap a goal they really need to be comfortable working with one another as this sort of thing requires some coordination between the two.

I would suggest having some practice matches with old robots. It will get the drivers used to working with each other, as well as listening to the coach. Also have these practice matches timed so that the drivers get used to only having 2 minutes to accomplish the tasks.

What we normally try to do is have the tryouts like everyone has mentioned. If there are many potential drivers/ops/HPs, try to narrow it down to 2-3 max per position before your first Regional.

You can have them practice and go through many driving tests and obstacle courses, but the “real” test is at an actual competition.
If you so choose, and you are going to more than one Regional and feel you can do this, you can have your narrowed down candidates try-out during competition at the first Regional. You can then narrow it down even further, hopefully to your “final” driveteam, either during that Regional or after it’s over.

If you do this, you might find some characteristics (better or worse) in the candidates under “real” pressure at a “real” competition. A student may drive very well, and seem very calm at the shop when you’re running them thru tests, but when you get to competition, they may crack.

As a former driver turned coach, I can’t really think of much else that hasn’t already been said. Definitely give everyone a chance to drive as early as possible. There will be some that are not interested and there will be some that will rise above the rest. Mix and match your teams…run simulations with as many combinations as possible (of the two drivers).

By the time you get to regionals, you should have a primary field team and a backup field team. If you have a couple backups, thats fine. You never know what might happen (kids getting sick, etc.). On practice day, I believe we still get three practice rounds this year, so run your primary team twice and your backup team once.

Its not the same for everyone, but I never really noticed the crowd when I was a driver. The drivers should be able to react to the other teams (i.e. if they are being blocked or there is a great opportunity) but they should not be expected to see those situation on their own. That is what the coach is for. In all likelyhood you will have only a few basic strategies that you won’t really deviate from…your drivers should know those very well.

Include the scouting team with the pregame strategy sessions so that all three teams are on the same page as to who has what abilities and what the alliance is up against. If you know right away that BlueA sits at the center goal the whole match, opt for a strategy that never goes to the center goal.

Above all else - relax, have fun, and win or lose, take pride in the fact that you are able to showcase your teams efforts on the field for all to see.

Good luck!!


In my opinion, I think the best to choose a Drive Team is by looking at experience. All of our Drive team members have the most experience of the team. They all are not necessarily the oldest because our current Drive Team consists of 2 seniors, including myself, and 2 juniors. They also have to understand the rules very well. It also helps that they are good friends and have good chemistry. I have seen teams were the drivers and coaches are yelling at each other.

Just my 2 cents.

Everything already said is dead on for the traits and qualitites of the field team. But I must emphasise:

Some people may think they’re such hot shots at driving the robot in a classroom put panic under pressure.

The first year I tried out for driving, our teacher made us drive the robot around an obstical course while the rest of the team cheered and yelled as loudly as they could to try and throw off our concentration. It seems a little mean to try and distract those trying out, but that’s how it’s going to be at competition; a driver must be able to block everything out around them except for their teammates on the field with them. I think it was most definitly a good way of picking drivers and controlers.

God I miss that rush…

That’s actually an interesting method!!!..we usually keep quiet while students tryout - unless someone crashes or hits an obstacle…then everyone bursts out in laughter :yikes: (well, a few of us panicked…:ahh: )…

the guy who is driving and the guy who is “the Arm” should be grest friends, so they know what the other one wants to do.

The best trait is that only one person calls the shots. Wether its the driver, arm operator, or coach, it doesnt matter. One of you calls the shots during the match and dictates what happens.

This is my first year as a mentor for my team, Team Rush 27. I was the driver/operator for our team throughout my four years of high school. Now as a mentor I was given the job of finding and preparing this years drivers for what they are going to experience out on the field. Through my experience, this is what I look for in choosing new drivers as well as the process on how to train them.

First of all, any operator of the robot has to be confident with him/herself. They must not be intimidated easily must know that the rest of their team is going to be looking up to them to make the robot perform while on the field. Even though the team may not be pressuring the drivers to perform to perfection, the drivers themselves will feel that they are, and must be able to handle the pressure. They must also be focused and be able to stay calm as well as still complete the tasks that must be done with distractions. On the field it is loud and can be very distracting at some times, they must learn to stay calm and focus on the job at hand. A major part of being a driver is to be able to communicate well, to be able to communicate to you fellow driver, your coach, human player, as well as the other teams is possibly the most critical component.

When choosing drivers for this season I am planning to go about the following plan:
First, I like to set up an obstacle course. Using past robots, OCCRA or FIRST, I have the students drive through a series of times to get a feel for the controls in their hands. They must “become one with the robot” I guess you could say. Each person has their own individual feel for the robot and they must be given time to find this out for themselves. I would have them driver through a series of obstacle courses each meeting, each getting a little tougher and having them go a little faster. At the end of the obstacle course I make them complete it again, except this time they must drive the robot in reverse. This is a major advantage out on the field, to be able to drive backward, forward, side-to-side and not losing their sense of which joystick to move for it to go in a certain direction As a coach or mentor, you have to provide the students with support, don’t be condescending, think of ways to improve and explain them in a non accusing way. Build trust with your drivers. However the drivers need to understand that you are the coach, and they must respect you judgment while on the field. Oh and another very important thing… If the student makes a mistake on the field, do not tolerate any other students criticizing them after the match. As a coach’s responsibility you must step up and say that you told the drivers what was supposed to be done and they should take any issues to you and not the drivers themselves! Make your students on the team aware that the drivers know if they made a mistake or not, they to not have to be told another 20 times by each student on the team. Our team has a special ritual if you would, that we do after every match. The coaches should be the only people talking to the drivers about their performance and how to improve. We have the team come down to the pits and welcome the drivers and coach no matter what the outcome of the game,the support that they get from the team will only make them better.

After they are getting used to the robot, another exercise is to have the entire team come and watch them practice. This will put an enormous amount of pressure on them in front of the team as well as provide distractions. They must be able to do this, because it will be 10x harder once they have to do it for real in front of hundreds, if not thousands of people at nationals.

If you have a practice field at your disposal, then as soon as you have a moving robot, drive on the field as much as you can practice certain procedures/maneuvers you know you will want to accomplish during a competition over and over again, making it quicker and quicker and until they can do it flawlessly.

Thats all I can think of at the moment, if you have any other questions you can pm me or answer to this post. Other than that, just PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE…three key words to success. Good luck!!! :smiley:

Crap, I forgot to add one thing. I found this out the the past couple years and I believe that it is a very good idea for any team. If you know who your drivers are going to be…make sure that they are on that sub-team…i.e the chassis driver is on the chassis team and the arm driver is on the arm team. I found that this helps immensely, if the student knows the inner workings of the part of the robot that they are controlling they know a lot about the robot before they even touch the controls!

Theres so much more then that.

Raw skill is just a fraction of what a driver needs to have. Good hand/eye coordination is another skill that is a must. Also the driver and operator need to be able to communicate well with each other and the coach. You dont want to risk breaking your arm because the driver had to make a quick move and the operator wasnt aware, so he left the arm down to get whacked causing an unecessary repair to be made.

Also, anyone on the driveteam needs to know the rules of the game inside and out. I reccomend giving each of them a game test and not being happy with the results until they are pretty much perfect.

Finally, the drivers and coaches all need to be able to handle criticism. Back in the days when I was with the Technokats, we would have a debriefing after every match where the coach would point out the positive and negitive things that happened in the match, and then after that was done the drive team would get a chance to critique the coach. You really dont want anyone on your drive team to get offended by every single comment made…theres going to be ciriticism, so you just have to deal with it and make improvements down the line to prevent them from happening again.

Ok, I lied…one last thing

Remember, driving around in the shop with your team watching is a lot different then having a few thousand people watching your every move and (possibly up to 10,000 people watching you) The have to be able to handle the pressure.