Why Losers Lose?

I’ve been following this thread and the question keeps nagging at me, why isn’t there a sister thread called, Why Losers Lose? So here it is. Why do losers lose?

You are free to answer in any fashion you please as long it you keep it clean and respectful. My thinking is that we will see some interesting responses that will help broaden and deepen the discussion of winners and losers.


Because they are inefficient in their use of their allotted time.

Inexperience, especially in a competition like FIRST. As a 4th year team this year we have learned more and more each year about things other teams do that we had never thought of before.

Well, in many cases the odds are against them… only 3/40+ teams can win an event.

But it all seriousness I think that a lot of team don’t take advantage of what they have available to them or do the proper research before building a robot. Chiefdelphi is a wealth of knowledge as well as other teams websites, the “Behind the Design” books.

Losing can also be caused by:

  • A lack of a defined goal
  • A lack of understanding of the teams abilities*
  • A lack of strategy
  • A lack of luck

*likely one of the largest factors of all

Biting off more than they can chew, focusing too much on superficial items and not the task at hand, not realizing what they can and cannot do or worse ignoring what is reasonable for them.

It is really sad seeing teams year after year with a non functioning robot/we tried to everything but can’t do anything well. Have they not learned their lesson? What is even sadder is these are the same teams who complain about certain teams winning year after year.

There are hundreds, if not thousands of reasons losers lose. Some of the most common seem to be:

-Bad Robot Design or implementation
-Lack of understanding of basic game strategy
-Under or unpreparedness
-Bad Luck
-Severe Mechanical Issues
-Lack of Programming
-Bad or Under performing Drivers
-Strategy Errors
-Lack of the Drive to Win
-Working beyond their means

Interestingly enough, some teams lose but did nothing wrong. Remember, only 3 (sometimes 4) teams ‘win’ an event.

One thing I haven’t seen mentioned so far… Because the “Super Alliance” is so darned hard to beat! You don’t get very far at competition if you’re robot doesn’t work… but by the time you get to the eliminations, it’s not about how each individual robot performs - it’s about how the alliance works together to achieve the task. Go in with a strong strategy, be flexible, and ensure that every robot provides a serious contribution, and you have a chance of winning. If you go in and just play like 3 robots on the field, you’ll eventually be beat (with a few notable super alliance exceptions).

Not learning from their failures.

If everyone learned from their past mistakes, as a team gets older, they should get more and more successful. As we all know that is not the case. There are outside circumstances that come into play like team turnover and graduating students, but the point remains the same.

Every team should take note of a failure and learn from it. Create a best practices document and keep track of what works and what doesn’t. Something simple as that could create an extremely strong team.


lack of driver practice. in our reigional there was a robot that could only hang on the middle and lower pegs, and was all KOP. they were awesome. the beat many teams for one reason, the kids had obviously had a TON of time driving it.


For example, last year we spent all build season trying to build a climber that ended up not working, and the end game was worth almost nothing. This year, the minibot was something we threw together in the last few days, even though it is what wins matches at this point.


  1. A person or thing that loses or has lost something, esp. a game or contest.
  2. A person who accepts defeat with good or bad grace, as specified: “they should concede that and be good losers

Losers lose because they don’t win. Not necessarily because the team has a poor robot, but because only 3/60+ teams can win a competition. It takes blood, sweat, tears and determination to be one of those three. That being said, there is a lot of luck (good and bad) that befalls the winning and losing teams. Additionally, there’s some secretive alliance selection and backstabbing going on at every regional. It takes a lot of skill and a lot of luck (in qualification alliances, points and penalties) to be a ‘power team’ at a competition. It takes even more luck to stay that way.

Often times, there are 20 other teams that could have taken first from your team. Thousands of other students have just as much knowledge, drive and initiative as you. They are not losers. Even if they never see a win for their FIRST team, they too are winners. and they don’t need a gold medal to prove that.

i think it is necessary to qualify what this thread means by “losing”

It seems that most of this thread and its sister thread “why winners win”…
is discussing winning and losing from an on field perspective.

If this is what the creator of the thread intended…so be it.

I know that our team doesn’t look at winning this way… or losing.
In both of our best years 2010 and 2011 our team did not win a regional but those were what I considered to be winning years…

Winning on the field is necessarily limited to a single three team (or sometimes 4 team) alliance for each event. It always comes down to how well the teams play together. Great robots can be beaten by good teamwork.

I would like to think that most if not all of the teams in FIRST are not losers…

If we decide that we can only have three winners at an event… we are really limiting ourselves…

just a thought…

My personal favorite.

You make a custom drivetrain that performs worse than and/or is less reliable than the kop drivetrain.

One thing that carries over directly from the sports model - once a team gets behind, they get discouraged and it all keeps going downhill from there. It may be unconscious, but they stop trying, or at least don’t try as hard.

As a corollary, sometimes when the situation looks incredibly bleak the team figures there’s nothing more to lose anyway, so they take some chances that they wouldn’t usually take. Sometimes those chances work out for them, but more often the risky behavior results in the diminished returns that most would expect. An example in this year’s game might be deciding to try for one last logo before going for the minibot race. The likely result is to miss hanging the tube and not get the minibot to deploy, but in a few cases they might just pull it off.

Yes, I would agree. If your drive team is unconscious it is very hard for them to drive the robot. Sorry I couldn’t help myself :slight_smile:

Most teams don’t make eliminations because they simply don’t put enough time or take it as seriously as most of us on CD do. There is a very good percentage of teams who just view FIRST has an after school activity and spend a couple of hours a couple of days per week during buildseason. Compared to the effort the 111s, 1114s, 254s put in to being competitive, its unbelieveable how little effort a good chunk of teams put in.


Resources, funding, mentorship, partnerships, collaboration, etc. etc. are the main differences between teams that win and teams that lose. Not only from a competition standpoint, but overall learning objectives/experiences.
Teams in general are always working towards a better ____ on the above list, which in turn alleviates time.
Being inefficient with your time is a relative term dependent on how much _________ you have.

I think what Tolstoy said about happy families can be applied here: winners are all alike, every loser loses it its own way.


Our downfall was:

Lack of practice
Lack of organization
Lack of efficiency

Oh man. This was why we were destroyed in Galileo last year (finished CMP at practically the bottom, despite amazing showings at our regionals). We had gone with a dropped-center 6WD, but a few matches into CMPs, our drive started throwing chains every single match. To this day, despite numerous off-season repairs, it still constantly throws the chain (we found that one spacer had been chewed up, allowing the wheel to slide on the axle, throwing the sprockets out of alignment, but the problem persisted).

Another one is strategy, which is absolutely crucial in eliminations. It’s part of the reason we lost semis in NY, since the other team had put a starvation strategy into effect (this coupled with our alliance captain losing comms).