What I've learned...

During my 3 years of FIRST, I have been Scout/Track lead for 2 of them. Last year was so much different in the way we handled it than this year. Here are a few things I learned and what we did different:

*Have at least 2 Scout Leads: Last year, I was the only one. It was terrible. We have done paper/pencil, so I was the only person passing out/collecting Tracking Sheets. Having 2 people makes it easier. If one person needs a break the other Scout Lead can take over.

*Don’t schedule really long shifts: I’ve always stuck to 1 hour shifts. There was one competition where I didn’t (Indiana Penn Competition) since I had so few people and a lot of matches to track. That one was awful. People complained about the long shifts.

*Talk to people, ask for opinions: Talk to the people that tracked and see how you can improve whatever method you had (paper/pencil, tablet, etc.). They use the sheets and trust me, their opinion can help.

*Involve possible new leads in Strategy meetings: This gives them experience and can help them understand what is going on. Could also inspire them to take over when you graduate.

*Talk to Drive Team: Give them advice, tell them about what you see on the field. This is especially helpful during Finals since you’re up in the stands and can see what both alliances do.

*Do what works best: If you feel more comfortable doing paper/pencil versus tablet, then do paper/pencil. If you want to do tablets, ask a mentor about it, get permission, then try it. It is ultimately you that has to decipher how matches play out, so do whatever you understand best.

*Enforce consequences for not showing up: Less of an issue if you’re traveling to the competition, but put in some sort of consequences for not showing up to their assigned shifts. Say, you can’t leave the stands (except for emergencies) or have them take someone else’s shift. Just something to show that it is important.

*Don’t get beat up over a bad alliance selection: You did what you could. If you’re last seed and you have to pick 2 not as good alliances, that’s what you have available. Don’t worry about it. It’s a hard job. :slight_smile:

Those are somethings I have noticed over the past 2 years. Since I’m graduating, I thought I’d leave advice for those that are taking over Scouting/Tracking positions and have no idea what to do.

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As someone who is also a third year scout, being a leader for two of those years, I can say that all of this information is important.

I’ve constantly been striving to train up the next generation of leaders, to fight the constant cycle that is high school clubs. If there is a talent or a passion in your scouts, harness it!

On top of that, I think it is vital to understand that scouts are the drive team and pit’s best source of information. Keep the drive team constantly informed on situations for upcoming matches, and providing them with the data can really help matches go more smoothly.

And when it comes to alliance selection, I’ve made a few errors in my time. I’ve had times where I was perfectly chill, and worked with the captain to make great decisions, and I’ve had time where I’ve made a snap decision against my better judgement. Whether it be bad or good, it’s important to know that any competition is only a single event in a season of inevitable ups and downs.

Another thing that I’ve noted is the importance to mark down errors for the next year. Every season, errors and problems tend to pop up from here or there (or everywhere some seasons), mark down those you can’t fix in a season, so when you make the system the next year, you can make it that much better. Keep changing what’s broken and only “fix” that which works when you have strong back up plan.