Coach’s Corner with Adam Freeman

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Basic Info:

  • Name: Adam Freeman
  • Current Team: Heroes of Tomorrow (HOT) – 67
  • Seasons as Coach: 6
  • Past Experience: Scouting/Strategy lead, Assistant Coach / Off Season Coach
  • Day Job: General Motors – Technical Problem Solving Supervisor

How did you get involved in FRC?
The HOT Team Chief Engineer, Jim Meyer, was a co-worker of mine. He was looking for some engineering and design help to take some of the load off of him. I agreed to help him in the 2005 FRC season. From kickoff on, I was 100% hooked and committed to my role as a mentor for the HOT Team.

How would you define your role as coach? 
As the drive team coach, I am ultimately responsible for the strategy and execution of our team within each match. I need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of my team (drivers and machine), alliance partners, and opponents to help develop a winning strategy.
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How would you define your coaching style?
Coaching has two parts – strategy and direction. My style for strategy is to keep everything as simple as possible, while still winning. We try to win by executing the same simple concepts over and over. I prefer not to change anything unless an opponent can show they can stop us from doing what we want to do. If we get beat we will evaluate and make simple adjustments to counter-act our opponent’s actions.
My style for direction is pretty aggressive. I am not a cerebral coach. Drivers, partners, field crew will know if things went according to plan or not during a match. My driver’s need to be able to handle my intensity during a match. Depending on our driver’s skill and decision making ability, I determine how much direction they get throughout the match. Some get step by step direction, others get more freedom and allow me to work more with our partners. Since our plan is usually pretty simple, I demand continuous improvement in execution throughout the season. My expectation is that we should be reaching our peak heading into Championships.

What is the most challenging part of coaching?
Losing. Being able to handle not achieving expectations is the hardest part of coaching. It’s not so much the act of getting beat, as it is the time until you can get back out there again. You are typically either beaten by someone better or you beat yourself. Either way we want to get back to work to figure out how to improve. In my opinion the best way to improve is through competition. Practice is nice, but we don’t get to practice against others very often, so getting back to competition is the best way for us to continue improving.

What was your greatest moment as a coach?
Winning the 2010 FRC Championship. Beating the “un-beatable” combination of 1114 & 469 was incredibly unexpected. Winning back-to-back championships is virtually unheard of in FRC. Our alliance maximized its potential through multiple strategies throughout the Division and Einstein, and was fortunate enough to take advantage of circumstances to win. The celebration and activities afterward were pretty intense as well. Close second is getting back to Einstein in 2014, after a 3 year hiatus and 2 years of losing in the third match of the Division Finals. Getting that machine and drive team to Einstein was a lot harder than it appeared. We pulled back on the reigns and adopted a significantly different strategy going into Champs, than we had throughout the rest of the season.

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What characteristics make up a good coach?
Strategic, Aggressiveness, Good Communicator, Respectful, Engaged, Disciplined, Demanding. Coaching in FRC is not that difficult. You don’t have to be a genius to understand the games. You just need to be involved in the process of coaching… understanding what is working / not working for strategy, how your driver’s are executing, what your alliance partners are doing, how much time is left, what’s the score, etc…
Unfortunately, often times I see alliances where no one has pulled together all the teams and formed a cohesive strategy. As soon as the match starts each team is trying to do their own thing. Which usually results in disaster. A great FRC coach will make an alliance greater than the sum of its parts.

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What advice would you give to a new coach?
Listen and work with you alliance partners. Don’t try to do too much. Keep your strategy simple and based on your strengths. Be mindful of the clock (it goes by really fast).

Is there anything else you’d like to discuss?
Thanks for asking me to participate. Hopefully someone finds this article insightful. If anyone has questions or concerns for me, feel free to PM me (CD: Adam Freeman) or email me ajfreema@gmail.com.

The photos in this article were provided by Daniel Ernst. Thanks!

Article Content Provided by: Adam Freeman

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