Coaching a robotics team is a rewarding experience. It may seem daunting at first, but the Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation provides tools and resources to give you everything you need for success.
Your Team Engagement Manager (TEM) will become your best friend as you experience robotics. Reach out directly to them any time you have questions. To find your TEM, go to the RobotEvents.com Support Page and click on your region.
- Connect with experts, watch videos and learn more at Mentor PD+.
- Ask your TEM to connect you with a local coach who can act as a mentor.
- Look for Team Blast emails from your TEM and the REC Foundation.
- Follow REC Foundation and VEX on social media for the latest announcements.
Develop Your Team
There is no maximum number of students that can participate on a robotics competition team. Students benefit most from a well-supported, hands-on learning experience, so identify the available resources and space when developing your team. If you have a lot of student interest, consider coordinating multiple teams. Once you've registered four VRC teams in the same school/organization, there's no additional team registration fee until you grow to 23 teams or more.
- VRC Average Team Size: 5-7 students
- VRC Minimum Team Size: 1 student
You may want to recruit volunteers to help your team learn and practice concepts like programming, mechanical design, documentation, and communication. Mentors help students increase their knowledge and skills, and are an important part of the learning process. Your team parents should be the first place to look, and emailing them the article How Can Parents Help? might inspire them to join you in support of the team. For more information about the amount and types of support that mentors can provide, please reference the RECF Student-Centered Policy and the article What Does a VRC Coach Do?
For questions regarding Team and Student definitions, please reference the Game Manual for the current season.
Equipment for Your Team
VRC robots must be built with official VEX products. Please consult the Game Manual for exact rules about robot parts and equipment.
Your team needs a VEX V5 robot kit (we recommend the Competition Starter Kit or Competition Super Kit) and access to an internet-connected computer/device to utilize the free online curriculum and programming resources. Most schools and clubs also choose to purchase a VRC field for use in team practices. A large or advanced team may choose to expand their design and building options by purchasing additional VEX components separately from the kits. VEX Robotics kits, parts, and fields are sold at VEX.com.
A set of Field & Game Elements is released for the new game each season. They are available for purchase after the VEX World Championships, usually in early May. You may purchase all or portions of the game elements, or even create your own mocked up copies.
Assemble a Tool Kit
Other than your robot kit and your team members, it’s a great idea (but not mandatory) to have tools for use with your robotics parts.
VRC teams may want extra wrenches, screwdrivers, tethers, rechargeable battery packs, and other spare parts if your team budget allows for it. A few basic hand tools like tin snips, a hacksaw, and a metal file for sharp edges are good to have as well. Always be sure that everyone wears safety glasses while working on the robot, using tools, and during competition matches.
While our programs remain among the most affordable available, the REC Foundation realizes that expenses over a season can add up and we want to lend assistance when possible. We are pleased to offer our community a selection of resources to help support your team and program all season long. Visit our Fundraising Resources article for some unique offerings to get the boost you need to keep your team competitive!
The VEX Robotics Knowledge Base article, “Funding and Grants for Robotics Programs,” also links to regional funding sources that may be available to you.
Registering Your Team for Competition Season
Important!: If you haven’t already, remember to register your teams early following the guidelines provided at Teams > VRC > Get Started. A new registration is required for each competition season.
Plan Your Schedule
You should develop a meeting schedule that meets your team’s availability, needs, objectives, and resources and stick to it! For younger students, it may be helpful to limit meeting length to less than two hours. Some teams meet once or twice per week for a few hours, while others will meet more frequently and for longer periods of time. Teams benefit from the program in proportion to the time and effort they put into the program. As competitions approach, your team may decide to meet more frequently in order to better prepare for their participation in the competitions.
Plan Your Team Meetings
During the initial meetings, it is helpful for your team to develop a list of goals and a timeline for accomplishing these goals. Students should record these goals and deadlines in their engineering notebook and assign someone on the team to keep track of progress. Using a planning process supports the development of your students' organizational, time management, and project management skills.
Assign Team Roles
Teams can vary in size, and your team will be more productive if everyone is assigned roles. Consider rotating roles so that team members can learn and benefit from the full program experience. Assign or have the students choose roles that best fit their interests, skills, and needs. It is common for a student to perform more than one role on a team, and for multiple students to share a role.
Common VRC Team Roles:
- Robot Designers
- Robot Programmers
- Engineering Notebook Manager
- Robot Builders
- Robot Drivers
- Team Scouts
- Online Challenge competitors
Optional: Additional VRC Team Role Ideas:
- Team Captain(s)
- Outreach Coordinator
- T-shirt Designer
- Web Designer
- Pit Manager
Tip: Consider assigning backups for roles to sustain your team when an illness or schedule conflict occurs.
Develop a Team Identity
Developing a team identity can be a valuable, fun part of the team-building process. Your team members should use their creativity to establish their own unique identity, which can include choosing a team name, creating displays for your pit space (more information on Pits in Attending a VRC Event), designing a team shirt, and creating a team cheer or song. The more you celebrate your team’s efforts and accomplishments, the easier it will be to engage other students and potential supporters that will help you build your team’s robotics program.
Register for and Attend Events
VRC competitions give your team a chance to demonstrate the work they've done on their robot, code, and engineering notebook. Typical competitions include skills matches, teamwork matches, and interviews for judged awards. For details on how to register for and attend VRC events, visit Teams > VRC > Events.