Match Strategies


  • Planning and Execution
    • The most important part of the competition
    • Good strategy and scouting can allow a mediocre robot to win the majority of its matches
    • Good strategy and a good robot are an almost unbeatable combination


  • To develop a good set of strategies, you need to know what you can do
  • Analyze and evaluate your robot's abilities
    • Be honest, don't under or over-estimate
    • Factor in the abilities of your drivers
  • Create a playbook
    • Possible match strategies that can be run
    • Different strategies for different circumstances
      • Defensive, High Risk, Safe

Match Plans

  • Develop a plan for each match with your partners
    • Everyone must agree on the plan, or chaos will ensue on the field
  • The plan should outline what each robot will do for the entire match
  • Create time limits on actions. If something is taking too long, you have to move onto the next
    • Many teams lose matches because they don't abandon failed objectives
  • Each plan should include contingencies
  • Winning the match is the first priority, showcasing features is second
    • Not playing to win is no different than throwing a match
    • Throwing matches is UNACCEPTABLE
  • Never mislead your partner about your abilities
    • Can't do something? Make sure they know that
  • Make sure your strategies are complementary
    • Don't try to occupy the same space of the field, leave each other room

Coaching a Match

  • The role of the field coach cannot be overstated
  • Drivers can only watch the robot and the immediate area
  • The coach must watch the entire field, keep track of the score and the robots
  • The coach should make all decisions to deviate from the initial strategy
  • Must keep the drivers aware of what's going on
  • The field coach must also watch the referee for warning
  • Field coach also must communicate with the alliance partner's field coach
  • Instructions must always be given
    • The driver will come to depend on the coach, don't leave them hanging

During a Match

  • You must be able to make on the fly decisions
    • Too many teams lose matches because they behave in a very static manner
  • The drivers do not have time to look up at the clock
    • The field coach should be updating the clock every 10 seconds, with a 10 second countdown at the end
  • Everyone on the field must focus on the match
    • Tune out the crowd and the announcer
  • Never lose sight of the main goal - Winning the match
  • If you fall behind, don't panic, calmly re-evaluate and come up with a new plan
  • Leave it all on the field
    • Give it your all, don't be afraid of damage
    • That being said, don't take overly dangerous risks
  • After the Match
    • Sit down with the key team members, discuss what went right and what went wrong
    • After a couple of matches, you'll quickly discard and add strategies
    • You must adapt to the competition

Other Tips

  • Change things up
    • Teams with good scouting will notice if you do the same thing every match
  • Don't be too conservative or too risky
    • Know your abilities
    • Don't try to do too much in a match
  • Learn how long two minutes is
    • Run your practices with a timer
  • Slow and steady wins the race
    • Spend 5 seconds setting up, as opposed to 30 seconds doing it over again

Preparing for the Finals

  • Meet with your new alliance and discuss strategy for eliminations
  • Make sure key players from all three teams know each other
  • Start planning match strategy for the first round
  • Be prepared for more (and more targeted) defense
  • Good strategy is the only way to beat a technically much superior alliance
  • Be prepared to be unconventional if necessary
  • Take advantage of extra planning time to come up with more effective strategies
    • It's too late to change your robot; it's not too late to change your strategies

Final Comments

  • Read the rules!
  • Come up with a clear, consistent strategy for how your robot will play the game
  • Remember the Golden Rules
  • Scouting is the easiest way to make your team more successful at competition
  • The role of the coach cannot be understated
  • Each FIRST match is like a high-speed game of chess: You need to have a well thought-out plan, but be prepared to counter your opponents' moves
  • Have fun!