Being on the Driveteam: What You Should Know Before Getting on the Field

The driveteam. It’s four members of a team that control the fate of the competition every time they go out to the field. Lots of students and mentors want to be a part of the driveteam, and for good reason. Being on the field for four years gave me a lot of great experiences and memories, and made competitions even more amazing. However, there are a lot of people you will meet behind the driver stations that shouldn’t be there. For the good of your own team and the teams around you, your driveteam should prepare themselves before competitions to be successful. In this article, I’ll be looking at some simple guidelines that everyone (students and mentors) should know before ever stepping foot on the field as a part of the driveteam.

The first thing that anyone on a driveteam needs to know is how to set up their robot and controls when they get to the field. This is for the good of the volunteers and the event running on time. You need to be able to get your robot on the field in a quick and efficient manner, as well as set up your controls without having an FTA come over every match to have to fix your mistakes. These are two very simple things that will keep volunteers happy, and you want to keep them in a good mood!

In addition to getting everything on the field, you need to be able to set your robot up correctly for the start of the match. Whether you’re running a 3 ball autonomous mode (2014), grabbing cans off the step (2015), or just sitting there until teleoperated mode begins, you need to know the game plan for your alliance and set your robot up perfectly. This means you need to know the parts of the robot that need to be set up, as well as exactly where to place it. Mistakes made during a match are excusable, but messing up an alignment that you have plenty of time and practice for is not.

Before the match, it is the responsibility of all four members to make sure they know what their job is for the match, which should have been discussed with your partners already. Even if you aren’t the one devising the strategies, you should know what the plan is so you aren’t the one making the mistake. If there is any confusion between members of the same driveteam, mistakes can occur during the match with the whole alliance.

Some other things that driveteam members should know how to do is to troubleshoot small problems on their robot or control system during a match, such as a mistake in the joystick configuration or how to compensate if a part on the robot breaks.

Now on to some specific things for certain driveteam roles. The drivers are responsible for focusing on your robot throughout the match. They need to be laser-focused, and shouldn’t let their minds wander to things outside of the field. Mistakes during the match are acceptable, but not if they are because a lack of focus. The coach’s job is to watch the flow of the match as a whole, and direct the team’s strategy. They are the eyes for their drivers over the entire field, since the drivers should just be watching their robot. The coach is also responsible for communication between teams on an alliance. Coaches need to make sure they talk calmly to members from all drive teams, and act respectfully to everyone to keep all of the drivers focused on the match. The human player needs to do their job and not get penalties. Penalties from a human player are nothing more than a lack of discipline, and can easily be avoided. If your job as a human player is limited in a match, use that time to help out the other human players, they’ll appreciate it.

After the match is over, the members of the driveteam need to discuss what went right and what went wrong. This isn’t a time to just talk about your mistakes, use it to talk about how you will improve in the future. A good attitude following a bad match can lead to lots of improvement.

The most important part of being on the driveteam is remembering that you are representing your team out in the public eye. Have a good attitude, play your heart out, and show some enthusiasm for your team. Having a signature move when your team is announced is a great way to show team unity, especially is you involve your teammates and mentors in the stands.

No matter how well you do on the field, these guidelines will help make your experience (and everyone else’s) more enjoyable and memorable. Good luck, and we’ll see you at the competition.