this is my second year as the robot driver for our team, i am curios what other drive coaches do during matches, my drive coach tells me what to do step by step, it gets hard to concentrate when i have ideas and my drive coach has different ideas, looking for feedback that i can show my drive coach to see if we can make changes.
This year, our coach is telling us if the other team is scoring too many high goal shots, so we can start playing defense in our courtyard. That, and also finding the closest boulders to our robot so we don’t have to try to find one and take forever.
I was driver last year. Now i’m drive coach, so I know both points of view
As a driver, I had my drive coach tell me everything I had to do (what RC to grab, where to get the totes from, where to put the stack) My only focus was to operate the robot the fastest I could, with precision.
As a drive coach, my job is to coordinate the game with the alliance. I tell the driver what he has to do, because I have a general view of the field. He can focus on the robot, without worrying if the breach will be done by the end game, or how many boulders we need to score to get the capture.
While I believe your drive coach has good intentions, perhaps if it’s bothering you, you could ask him to step back a little on his directions.
If I were the driver on my team this year, things I had my drive coach look out for:
Match time - callouts at 1:30, 1:00, 00:45, 00:30 (And a stern “Get out of their courtyard” if necessary), 00:20, 00:15, 00:10, 00:05
Defenses - Which ones have been breached? Call out the ones that haven’t been
Boulder locations - If you’re looking at the robot, he can direct you to where the next boulder is
Alliance partners - do they need assistance? Are they stuck on a defense and need a nudge?
Oncoming robots - Is there a defensive robot coming to ram us? Can I avoid it?
Occasional score update - Simply callout “Winning” or “Losing” will suffice.
IMHO, your job is to drive the robot. The coaches robot is to monitor everything in a match that isn’t your robot.
Needs to be able to tell the drivers in no particular order.
What defense has been damaged and what defense they need to cross next.
Make decisions on what the current goal is based on point values and time left In match.
Know how many boulders are in the enemy tower so they know when they have to start in bounding.
Train the 2 drivers to always be communicating between themselves important information about the actions on the feild
As couch give a goal not directions to achieve. You can’t be telling them how to drive in the match.
Communicate objects or events of strategic importance like location of boulders or when they have successfully breached.
LET THEM DRIVE. do not micromanage
So when people sign up for drive team on our team they fill out an application and the first thing on the application is.
“I agree to the terms that as a member of drive team we don’t question or contest decisions that are made until after they are made.”
The basic idea around how our team is run is that the drive coach first and foremost on our team is the shot caller. the drivers and operators focus on the robot just controlling the robot, and shot caller filters out all the background noise and give the drivers what they need to know and directs them to where they are needed.
This year we run 1 driver, 1 operator, 1 shot caller, and 1 shadow/spy.
Driver and operator are in charge of the robot but don’t actually really “think” they just “do” its a nice little failsafe where as long as the driver and operator run at 100% any loss is blown back onto the shot caller…
Shot caller is air traffic control and guides the team and objectives and is roughly the brain of the game. While the shadow is an extra pair of eyes wherever said shot caller needs eyes.
This system I have found to be effective but it requires that all members actively communicate and are all cool with each other.
Keep track of match “phases” according to game clock and relay info to other two teams to enact the coordinated plan decided on prior. Maximize efficiency. Remain calm and composed a guiding hand. Watch for missed crossings on the display.
My thoughts on the coach:
Very similar to what has been said above but more conceptual.
Decide on everyone’s duties… Driver and Operator are in charge of the operation of the robot. They concentrate on that… and adapt to conditions within 10 feet of the robot roughly.
The coach watches the entire field and calls out times. The coach should give his/her evaluation on the next task so the driver/operator know one or two steps ahead what they will be doing next. Time is lost when a task is finished and the driver has to figure out what to do next. The coach is looking for the next task. The coach is the tactician… he/she watches the progress of the match from an alliance perspective. Decisions can then be made to help an alliance member or change tasks to achieve the alliance objectives that are not getting accomplished.
The coach is also free to move around and speak briefly with the other teams or ask for or offer assistance if necessary. To suggest overall alliance tactical changes in the face of the pressure from the opposing alliance.
I also see the coach as an overall calming influence behind the glass.
In the over 500 matches that I have coached I have seen many things… I think I am most proud of the losses we have seen and how an uplifting comment to another team or an individual student can completely change their outlook on themselves. I will admit that on a rare occasion I have had to say something negative to another team… usually very spontaneously… I have always regretted those occasions and I work to try and never allow that to happen but human nature being what it is… sometimes it can and I always apologize immediately.
The coach leads by example, they need to be steady and calming, they need to have a perspective that is more about learning and teamwork than just about winning. They need to look for the good things to praise about every team and then bring them out.
I feel honored to coach… I have done it most of my life… and for the last 16 years on FIRST fields… I have certainly made a few mistakes but by and large I look back and I think a good coach can really enhance student experiences on the field. The coach is really the mentor on the field.
I know many teams use student coaches… I don’t want to get into that debate… I know there is a tremendous amount of pressure on the coach and the drive team… I let that pressure fall on me… and I have learned how to deal with it… some rare students can do this too… and I have the utmost respect for every team and their coaches.
Good luck to your team… I hope to get to stand next to you someday and learn from you and your team.
I will see you on the field
I have only a little to add to the above. My key points:
Tell them what to do, but not how to do it. (“Come back over the moat”, “There’s a boulder to the right”, “head for challange”)
I watch the dashboard/drive camera during certain operations, mostly to be sure we are close enough to the Cheval, and to say when the vision tracking error is small enough to shoot. These are both being improved for the next event so i can watch the field.
Running to the other teams and checking on status if someone is stuck, or seeing why they aren’t moving
Final queue checks for loose wires, etc.
last person to touch the bot on setup. Alignment and setup issues are my fault not the student’s.
distributing/reinforcing the game plan during team intros (“Auto will cross the moat, in teleop, we take the shot, then Cheval, low goal, Cheval, low goal, Moat. High goal if there is time. Team X is doing the low bar and rock wall, we are cleanup if something goes wrong.”)
Explaining to the spectators (stand drivers) why we did what we did, or what was the view from the field (“Why didn’t you just shoot sooner?” “The camera was blocked and the shot would have been no good”)
In build season, every team operates differently. On the field, every coach operates differently.
Nick, do you have two people physically driving the robot or do you essentially have two coaches?
Definitely take what Mr. Steele said into consideration when deciding on roles, he stated it very well. I believe that it is the job of the coach to make strategy decisions and talk to the other teams during a match, as well as keep time. The co-driver helps more with the “within ten foot radius” decisions.
For us, the main driver has control of the chassis and gate arm. The co-driver has control of the ball retriever and shooter, therefore they are talking frequently to each other.
I should say that if you and the coach disagree with a strategy decision, do what they say as that person is watching the whole field and what is going on. After the match is when you can review everything in the match and the decisions made (there isn’t time to debate for ten seconds in these matches). If the coach is scrutinized too much on every call, the coach will question his/her own decisions and that is not what you want. Remember that the coach will improve just as much as the drivers, I recommend that the coach watches matches from other events in order to help with the “learning curve” and it will be easier to make the decision on the spot after seeing how other matches played out with the courses taken.
Good luck to your team!
I have not done either one, but this is a fair summary of our setup. This year, the coach is also watching for signed input from the spy and possibly the operator, who may go to other places in the castle to get a good view when that’s more important than monitoring the robot’s vital signs. The driver should “keep his eye on the ball” and trust the coach to watch the rest of the field.