Your scouts hate scouting and your data is bad: Here's why

Pre scouting is a good idea. I’ve been watching our team Google Drive and today our scouts put together a spreadsheet of everyone going to our DCMP and listed some qualitative and quantitative observations from their previous events including: can they do hatches, cargo, rocket levels, climb levels, what sort of cycle time they’re getting, and other notes (“really fast intake”, “won both their district events”, “kept falling off the hab” etc).

This will give you a good head start on observing the teams at DCMP.

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Can the ones who can’t attend scout from the livestream and send info to the scouts at the event?

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That’s a good idea!

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This is probably very obvious and I’m certain that many teams do this.
During our last regional, the drive team scouted the teams during the practice matches in the simplest of terms (hatch vs cargo, rocket vs cargo ship, and climb level). A few of the teams were pre-scouted during week 1 & 2 regionals in which they participated.

It helped us determine strategy for each match during the qualification matches.

One thing you could do is to determine from online info what teams are in the middle of the pack and focus on them. It is probably obvious who the top teams are, and they don’t need to be scouted much. In my estimation, knowing a bit more about the middle teams’ capabilities will have the best returns for match strategy and alliance selection.

If you can make some sort of pre-competition ranking list based on online data, then instead of scouting every robot, you can shift the rankings according to teams that stand out or perform a lot differently than you expected. That doesn’t require a close eye on every robot.

Having said all of that… I’d actually recommend scouting with a partner team instead.

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Nemo’s idea is pretty solid if you’re concerned about picking.

Another strategy is to only scout teams in your next match, you won’t get every team at the event, but you’ll have information relevant for your matches and you’ll likely get ~half. Additionally, the scouting doesn’t need to be super rigid - it can be more qualitative.

I do think forming or joining a scouting alliance is a good idea. If you do find yourself in a situation where you need scouting data on every team (that your team was unable to collect), ask around - while not every team is keen on sharing (understandably), there will likely be at least one team willing to share.

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Our team has tried many different ways of preparing for Worlds. We used to look at our schedule and only pre-scout (video scout) the teams that were going to be our partners and opponents in our matches. This was great for the matches but it was insufficient for being able to choose a team in alliance selections. Sure, we had all of the quantitative data on every robot at the end of qualifications, but in an unfamiliar environment, the qualitative information was key to discerning between two robots with equal stats. Now, we qualitatively video scout ALL of the teams in our subdivision prior to arriving at Worlds. I should add that our qualitative scouting involves some quick and dirty quantitative scouting in it so that it puts the qualitative scouting into perspective. It’s time consuming, but well worth it if you think you might be a captain.

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Wonderful advice , we realized most of the points you wrote here and adapted after having really bad scouting data in our first event, after that we had a talk with the scouting team and explained the importance of their work , then in our the second event the data was great and the kids felt appreciated.

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Yes. Yes. Yes.

I had to give a Senior a hard talk because he was egging on our driver when my other coach was directing him otherwise. Basically talking back. Only people that should be giving instruction to drivers is the designated adult and student coaches. Not saying scouts can’t talk to drivers but I expect that the student coach would hear and approve any strategy suggestions. Okay, back to thread.

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Omg thank you so much. I have been wondering for a while how to tell my coach how unappreciated scouting is, and how no one on the team really respects us, but i think that if i show him this post, maybe we can change the way the team thinks about the scouters. Thanks so much for the amazing info!

I understand the value of people scouting, being a scouting mentor myself, but if my team is having robot trouble then the position that I most need my top mechanical guy is in the pit, not scouting. He can go scout another match right now I need him fixing my robot. There will always be other times to scout. Team members should be filling the rolls where they can be best utilized at the time.

If you believe that everyone should scout, which I personally don’t, then that’s fine; however, make sure your finding the right time for them to do so.

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Some other thoughts for me regarding scouting, since rejoining my old team 3 years ago as a mentor. We have been a captain 4 out of the 6 regional events that we competed at. And were fortunate enough to win 2 of those events.

Both of the events that we were able to win, our scouting data provided a pivotal role. Without it we would not have won these events because our data about the teams attending was very good, and we would not have picked the teams we did without the data. We made sure that in our team debriefs both on the bus home, and once we returned to the shop to emphasize the role that scouts played in getting us that data that we needed to pick those teams, and that without it we would not have been successful.

We open our scouting meetings to all those that feel that they would have knowledgeable data or insights to contribute. We also have as many members of the drive team on hand as well, because even though they don’t scout matches, their perspective behind the glass lends insights that no scouting data could ever tell you. Such as personalities of the other drive teams, willingness to cooperate on strategy, sticking to the predetermined strategy, etc. Also they can contribute things like robot x played really good defense that was hard to get around.

I think that the point about sharing the data sheets for each match with all is interesting, and maybe something we look at for the future. We’ve never considered that they might want to see the data and as such have never given them the option to see it. We do invite them to the scouting meeting though and they could see the data then.

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Readers seem to misunderstand what I mean by that/my intended audience.

If your team has a bad culture around scouting, then I think everyone should scout.
This does not mean that everyone scouts the same amount of matches - more just that everyone scouts at least one match.

I think of it like this:
If the only people you tell to take out the garbage are freshman, then you are creating a culture where taking out the garbage is “beneath” some people (upper classmen). If you make everyone take out the garbage, then the message is “the garbage needs to be taken out.”

I think scouting is often seen as the competition version of “taking the garbage out.” If there are people on your team who think they are “above” scouting, then that is a problem. If scouts are highly trained and non-scouts would ruin everything, then obviously the culture around scouting is probably not problematic.

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That or “the job you get when all the good jobs are taken”.

Some additional context about my quote a few messages above - I was impressed that the team took their own philosophy of “everyone shall have a part in scouting” so seriously that they were all willing to stick to their guns and keep the mechanical guy on his scouting shift even though the robot could have been higher priority. It’s easy to ascribe to a set of ideals and then throw that all away when it’s inconvenient for you. I was impressed at how the team stuck to their principles.

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I still feel the “everyone scouts” approach is problematic. Anytime you force someone to scout (or do any task), you’re going to get terrible results. It takes a culture shift. The team must understand the importance of scouting.
The change must come from the adult leadership. If a team manager/lead mentor uses scouting as punishment - the team will never collect good scouting data.
The mentors must recognize and applaud the efforts of the scouting team - do that and the culture will change.

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Most of my team doesn’t really enjoy scouting. Now, to be fair, this is mostly because it takes up their “walking around the venue and awkwardly smiling at other teams while looking at their robots” time. But, I personally love scouting. Our scouting forms have fields for cargo and hatches scored, starting position, sandstorm scoring, climb capability, defense played, defense endured, etc. Then, all those values get inputted into a color-coded spreadsheet. This spreadsheet then connects to other sheets in which the data is managed and presented in a way that assists us in making a list of alliance partner picks. Scouting all these robots is really awesome because it gives you an idea of what other teams did to tackle the same problem.

Also my team makes sure the scouters know how important they are

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With all due respect we’ve experienced literally hundreds of examples of data winning matches. Sometimes data clearly points to which bot should play which role. Sometimes it tempers the claims of a team thinking their robot is more capable than they have demonstrated. That is OK if they just fixed something on the practice field etc. If I had a dollar for every team that said “we can do this” and our reply was “our scouting data says you have not done that yet, what changed?” we could fund next season! Often it leads to helping a team understand what makes them incur penalties. And on and on and on …

Data is very important. It does win games especially when complemented by astute observations by students and mentors who know the game.

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FWIW, 225 only has one official leadership position right now (Scouting Captain).

Probably around ~80% of our competition wins happen primarily because of good data and analysis of that data, which we can continue to get because scouting has been clearly attributed to resulting in said competition wins.

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While you have many valid points, not everyone hates scouting. My team is perfectly fine with my scouting system because I built it based on their requests. A lot of data is bad because it gets mixed up in processing. The past 2 years we were using third party apps for scouting, which would always mix up what’s what and negatively impact our choice list, and those years we did pretty bad in eliminations, we didn’t have the right combo of teams on our alliance and lost in quarterfinals. This year our team custom built our own app for scouting, controlling what we wanted and how we wanted the data to be saved. This kept everything separate and orderly, and we were able to actually read the data and make informed decisions about who we wanted for alliance selection. It helped us make it almost to finals, though we were knocked out in semifianals on false ref calls that they refused to recall even when we proved they were wrong.

In my opinion, one of the most effective way to improve scouting and collect good data is making your own system that collects what you want instead of having extra unessesary data that mixes with everything else to create one big mess that no one can read.

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Could you elaborate on this point? Do you collect the data points that the scouts you suggest you collect? Or are you speaking in terms of interface or something else?

I’m confused and scared by this sentiment. Out of curiosity, what third party apps are you using that inaccurately store data? I have serious suspicions about this claim. But if you think that you collected good data that would have led to a good elimination alliance and this was hindered by a malfunctioning third party app, we ought to know what that app is so that we do not use it ourselves. I’ve never heard of a database mixing up data before in this scope.

Ah, perhaps this is the crux of your argument. Are you simply making the claim that you collected data and did not know how to read it accurately with the third party app?

I only ask all of these questions because making your own app is not something within the scope of every team. And oftentimes, even if a team can make their own app, it doesn’t mean they should.

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