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Over the years, we have seen and talked to many new teams. Thinking back on our own start, we then realized that a lot of teams starting out need good advice on how to begin their season. Starting an FTC team can be a difficult task, and getting it off the ground and running is even harder without guidance. We decided to create a large list of advice for fledgling teams to help them become great teams.

Here is the list:

  • Starting a New Team

    • Find other people to join your team

      • This can be through a school, neighborhood, or just friends

    • Decide on a coach, assistant coach, and mentors

      • These are usually the parents of the team members

    • Try to gain sponsors to fund your team; the robot and outreach can get pretty expensive

  • Outreach

    • Start as soon as possible

      • For many teams this is the beginning of the offseason (or summer)

    • Reach out to small businesses through emails

      • Follow up with an in person meeting where you can do a demo

    • Do events at locations to spread FIRST, robotics, and STEM

      • Try to put your own unique spin on these events

      • They can be at expos, libraries, schools, 

    • Create social media accounts to spread awareness of your team

    • Make a trifold for people to look at during events

    • Be prepared for every outreach event

      • Try to create a schedule for how the event is going to go

    • Be flexible; not everything will go as planned

  • Robot Design

    • Start by determining what the robot needs to do

      • This usually includes movement, scanning, and grabbing of some sort

    • Create sketches of potential ideas

    • Discuss the ideas with your team and narrow the list down to only a few

      • List the pros and cons of each; make sure no idea is rejected immediately

    • Build prototypes of the decided ideas and test them out

    • Pick the design that was most successful and make it better

  • Competition

    • Create a scouting document to make a profile of each team’s abilities in the robot game

      • This helps for gaining information on alliance partners, opponents, and potential alliance partners in the elimination rounds

    • Schedule practice ahead of time

      • These tend to fill up very quickly, and it is good to practice before actual rounds to test out both TeleOp and Autonomous

    • Determine players ahead of time

      • The two controllers and coach should be decided early in the season so that they have time to practice and improve in TeleOp

  • Miscellaneous

    • Do team building activities to build chemistry

      • This can be something simple like laser tag

    • Allow team members to take a small snack break when they want during the meetings

      • However, make sure not everyone takes it at the same time; this will hurt productivity

    • Create appealing team shirts

    • Have some sort of prop that represents your team

      • Ex. a pin with a picture of a circuit on it for representing the Circuit Breakers

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