FTC:Tips For Rookies
The rookie year is often the hardest year for every FIRST Tech Challenge team, but don’t be discouraged. The first year of FTC is a steep learning curve for everyone and there will be major improvements from a team’s first to second season. During this time a team is working to find their team personality, work ethic, motivation, and style in their first year. They will struggle with aspects of FTC and things will seem unfamiliar. This is okay, remember that there are resources available and people who are excited to help.
Don’t worry about perfection, everyone is growing
- Each team messes up sometimes, the important thing to remember is to learn from the mistake and keep growing. Nobody expects perfection in FTC, just motivation to improve.
Work on finding a team personality and style
- A team personality is cultivated over years of cooperation and working together. Doing fun things besides strictly robotics can help a team grow together. A team's style can include their marketing. Finding a team name and colors is important to creating a team identity and making a memorable team brand.
Work on communication within the team
- Setting up a communication system is important for a team. Different communication software are very helpful. Make sure that it works for the entire team and each person is kept in the loop. Everyone needs to make an effort to communicate clearly.
Visit a tournament
- To get an idea of what tournaments are like visit one before the first competition the team is participating in. Watch the field to see how the dynamic on the field. Remember the field is a living thing and game parts can do unexpected things in real matches. Also, get an idea of what judging is like. Most teams are willing to let spectators watch a judging session, as long as they ask beforehand. Watch how teams talk together in the pits and see the FTC community there.
Watch robot matches in a tournament or online
- Watch matches and tournaments online. This will also help with finding the dynamics of the field during play. Seeing robots on the field can also give a team great ideas and inspiration for the future. The field is one complex thing that must be taken into account for all robot designs.
Watch team robot videos
- Teams often post robot reveal videos or have youtube accounts. These videos are very informative because each team and robot is unique and it is interesting so see each solution. Watch other teams’ robots and see the different ways they approach the same challenge, even robots outside of FTC.
Connect with the local community
- In FTC connecting with the community is called outreach. Outreach can be going to community events and sharing FIRST and FTC with the public. This often includes driving and showing off the robot. Outreach is also talking to professionals, such as engineers. They are often interested in youth robotics and excited to see the new opportunities. Going to these events helps build a strong relationship between a team and the community.
Reach out to other FTC teams for help
- The FTC community is very involved. Creating bonds and working with other teams is a new part of FTC. Veteran teams can help mentor rookies and rookie teams can learn alongside each other.
Ask lots of questions
- Asking questions is one of the most important ways teams learn. Ask veteran FTC teams, mentors, coaches, volunteers, or professionals. People involved with FIRST will be happy to answer questions and help other teams.
- Other FTC teams, many want to help and are excited to mentor
- The FIRST website, where rules, registration, tournament details, and more can all be found.
- FTC Forums, official answers to questions,
- Social media, Reddit and Discord are helpful for questions and content
- FIRST building resources
- FIRST programming resources