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  • Coaches in the judging rooms

    Should coaches go into the judging rooms with the kids? In Ohio at least, the coaches are given the option of watching the team's judging sessions. My first 3 years, I went in and watched. I stayed out of the way and didn't interfere and let the kids do their thing. This year, I stayed out of the room and it was my team's best performance in 4 years. Just curious what happens in other locations. Also curious if there is a correlation between team performance and coach presence during judging.

  • #2
    In VA-DC, it is up to the team. Two coaches can come in, but they don't have to. They cannot interact with the team in any way. No head nods, gestures, etc. Just a straight poker face. I ask my team each tournament if they want me to come in and usually they say they don't care. I always have gone in, and I don't think it affected the team negatively or positively. It just helps me focus follow on training if I noticed something that can be improved.
    Norfolk, Virginia, USA
    FLL Coach and Regional Tournament Head judge since 2014

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    • #3
      Originally posted by SkipMorrow View Post
      It just helps me focus follow on training if I noticed something that can be improved.
      This is the main reason I would really like to be able to go into the judging rooms with my team. However, in my region (North Texas) that's not allowed. Only team members are allowed in the judging rooms. I have to depend on debriefing the team right after the judging sessions and reviewing the rubric at the end of the tournament. Now that I've done this a while, I've got a better idea of how to be prepare my team for the judging. But as a rookie and less experienced coach not knowing what the kids could expect and how best to prepare them for it was a big frustration. It does make attractive to try to carve time out to volunteer to judge at a tournament but most seasons, until my team is done competing, it's really hard for me to give a full Saturday (and means my team misses out on one of our long practices usually right when they need it most).

      --
      Fort Worth Robotics - North Texas Region Team #455
      Technical coach, baker of the cookies, keeper of the time, transporter of the travel field walls, finder of the spare parts, maker of the pop culture references that only the other tall people understand.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Tim Carey View Post
        Should coaches go into the judging rooms with the kids? In Ohio at least, the coaches are given the option of watching the team's judging sessions. My first 3 years, I went in and watched. I stayed out of the way and didn't interfere and let the kids do their thing. This year, I stayed out of the room and it was my team's best performance in 4 years. Just curious what happens in other locations. Also curious if there is a correlation between team performance and coach presence during judging.
        Perhaps having you out of the room lets the kids relax and be less nervous? More likely, the kids have just become better at the judging sessions through experience and increased maturity.

        In Minnesota, coaches, families, and others are allowed in all the judging sessions (except for Core Values, where only one adult from each team is allowed). I like open judging sessions. I think it helps parents understand much better what happens in FLL. Without having open sessions, only the robot game itself is publicly visible, and that tends to skew their perception of the tournament.

        As a coach, I always watched the sessions. I found it interesting to listen to the judges' questions and see how they interacted with the kids. I think there is a lot of information that can be gleaned from watching the sessions live that never makes it to the written rubrics that come back to the teams.

        After the first year coaching, I realized teams really needed to practice the robot design judging session itself before tournaments. I was lucky enough to have an experienced judge do a mock judging session with my kids one year. After that, I would do it myself with the help of my co-coaches.
        Last edited by timdavid; 01-16-2019, 09:24 AM.

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        • #5
          Sounds like you are a bad influence. If you distanced yourself further from the team they may end up at the World Festival.

          I wouldn't read too much into one judging session. My girls were either shining examples or dysfunctional according to teamwork judges. The year they were invited to the US Open they got a very critical teamwork assessment at their qualifier. At the state tournament it was the teamwork evaluation that pushed them over the top. As far as we could tell the only difference was the judge and the day on the calendar. Design should be a bit more objective, but in my experience it isn't. At last year's state tournament one of the design judges really disliked big robots and didn't care if the design was good or not. I too prefer robots that do a lot with very little, but I'm willing to accept that big can be efficient.

          I stopped attending judging sessions long ago unless it is a new judge, and then I am there to evaluate the judge, not watch my team. I would rather hear the team tell me about the session than see it myself. I also stopped watching the robot compete for the same reason. I find it a lot more fun to hear the retelling without the spoiler of seeing the actual event. I think new coaches should attend the sessions, sit in the very back, keep their ears wide open and their mouths shut. One year my daughter's team was demonstrating the robot and the robot wouldn't move when the program was run. Without thinking I blurted out "Are the motors plugged in?" All four girls looked in my direction with daggers flying from their ice cold stare. I don't blame them, what a screw up! The judges knew me well, and the girls well, so I think they found it more funny than incriminating, but I stupidly took away a great opportunity for the girls to give a little troubleshooting demo.
          Last edited by Dean Hystad; 01-16-2019, 11:54 AM.

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          • #6
            I am really curious to hear what the kids told the judges in robot design. The one thing I was baffled by was "frequent driver intervention to aim or retrieve robot." Their programs had lots of wiggle room for aiming because of how they used sensors and wall/line squaring. They almost never had to rescue the robot either. I'm not blaming the judges because my kids obviously said something to give them that idea, but I wish I had heard them say it so I would know how to debrief them. Also "frequent or significant faults or repairs", which isn't true, so what were those kids saying in there? *Sigh* I need to judge robot design next year...

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            • #7
              I have suggested to our coach that one of the team members go into judging with a phone they place on the table to record. It doesn't have to be video. Just something that can be reviewed, after the fact, to be able to ACTUALLY know what questions were asked, that also does not interfere with the kids. To do it professionally, the kid ought to ask the judges if it would be alright to record so they may use it for review. (I would expect most judges to be alright with this, and to be impressed with the mature aspect of asking to doing so)

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