Question. What can my team do to have a productive offseason?
While some teams wait for the 2017 FRC season to begin, many teams have already realized the truth; the 2017 season started last May.
With that being said, the offseason presents a perfect opportunity for teams to prepare for the upcoming season. Whether it’s technical training or fundraising, the offseason can play a critical part in a team’s success.
For that reason, we’ve compiled a list of 4 things, in no particular order, that every team should do to take advantage of this offseason.
Training is a really good way to sharpen your team’s technical skills for the upcoming season. While training can include everything from a simple workshop on tools to a full build of a new machine, you should cater training to best suit your team’s needs.
For example, if your team did not use CAD last year, it would be a good idea to run some training sessions in Autodesk Inventor.
To provide another example, if your team felt like your design missed the mark last season, you may want to consider redesigning your machine for an off-season competition, like GRITS.
Training is a critical part of a team’s development and it will directly contribute to your team’s on-the-field success next season. As they say, practice makes perfect.
Whether you’re just paying off registration fees or working towards a new trailer, all FIRST teams need money. As such, it’s much easier to fundraise during the offseason when you’re not dealing with the stresses of building a robot.
In FRC, fundraising can be broken down in two basic categories; sponsors and events.
Sponsors are one of the cornerstones of the FIRST program and the offseason gives teams a perfect opportunity to thank and renew existing sponsors as well as cultivate opportunities for new sponsors. New sponsors can come in all shapes, forms, and sizes, so prepare your sponsorship documentation, get out into the community, and fill out those grant applications.
Fundraising events are a good way for students to show off their robots and provide the community with a service in exchange for money. Fundraising events can include things like FLL tournaments, game nights, lawn services, and much, much more. There’s really no good substitute for rolling up your sleeves and getting out there.
Outreach is extremely important and required for some of the most prestigious accolades that FIRST has to offer. As such, the offseason represents a great opportunity to get out into the community and talk about your team, FIRST, and get more people involved.
Outreach events can often be broken into a few categories, and we’re just going to touch on a few of them here:
Demos - Demos can be small, personal events with tens of people to large conventions with thousands of people. While it’s nice to have a large audience, the goal is to get your team and FIRST out in the community.
FIRST Activities - You can create an effective outreach program by helping other FIRST programs and FRC teams. FLL, FTC, and FRC teams can use mentors, resources, and training to help them through their season, and if you’re really feeling up to the task, you can even host a FLL or FTC event in the fall.
Creative Outlets - We wanted to mention that some of the best outreach efforts can’t really be categorized. They’re creative, outlandish activities that require teams go the extra mile, but the reward is an unparalleled level of inspiration.
Last, but not least, you have to recruit; the future of your team literally depends on it.
Your team can use demos, school orientations, etc. to get your name out there and recruit members into your program.
But don’t wing it; it’s not enough to get rookies through the door. Your team has to be willing to spend the time train and engage new members. This can involve creating an on-boarding program, hosting training sessions, and maybe even having rookies compete in fall competitions (VRC, FTC, GRITS, etc.)
Rookie members are, literally, the future of FIRST, and your team must spend time to recruit, training, and engage every new member possible.