I like to remind Coaches, Team Members, and Referees how Tournaments are different than Practices. By the time your team gets to a tournament, it will have been practicing for 6 to 10 weeks, and have learned certain behaviors. One reason we have a practice round during tournaments is to help the team members realize what is different than what they have been rehearsing.
In practice: the team sets up the field.
In the tournament: the referee and referee assistant set up the field. The team isn't allowed to touch models outside of Base.
In practice: the team resets the field whenever the members want to.
In the tournament: the field doesn't get reset until the match is over, and scoring is complete. And the team doesn't do it. No mission model gets reset during the match if the robot causes a change.
In practice: the team can start and stop at will, and can repeat programs and missions.
In the tournament: this is the same--except there is a clock ticking, and the field cannot be reset in the middle of the match. And the first start comes after the countdown.
In practice: the team can change things and try again.
In the tournament: the team can change things between matches, but there might be other activities going on. The team can make adjustments and retry during the match, but there is only 2.5 minutes running time at the table per match. And nothing gets reset during the match!
In practice: the team puts loose mission models away.
In the tournament: the team shouldn't take mission models away from the table. Or bring them back right away, if you make a mistake.
In practice: the team may not have an opponent on the opposite table.
In the tournament: there's another team that may race you to the Patent.
In practice: the team doesn't wait on a signal to start (except maybe you've been practicing that way recently)
In the tournament: the team cannot start the robot before the signal from the match countdown
In practice: the team doesn't ask permission to do things.
In the tournament: the team may rescue the robot without asking, or may ask the referee to do it. Although the team isn't required to ask permission to do things, it's good practice to talk with the ref so he or she knows what is going on and can make sure that it is okay.
In practice: the team doesn't have a crowd watching
In the tournament: there are lots of strangers interested in your robot's performance
In practice: the team starts when it's ready
In the tournament: the referee asks you to turn off Bluetooth, and you wait on other teams, and the referee counts your electrical parts, and measures your robot, and tells you about rules you weren't thinking about, and makes jokes, and the referee is there to help you, but she or he doesn't know what to do unless you ask.
In practice: the team members aren't nervous
In the tournament: there's a competition, and a race for the patent, and music playing, and a crowd watching, and you're in a strange place, and everybody is depending on you not to make any mistakes.... It is exciting, and maybe nerve-racking. But, the team gets three or more tries, and the bad matches may be forgotten.
So, there will be bumps and surprises along the way, but if everyone takes a deep breath, we'll have time to realize how much fun we are having showing what we can do!
VA/DC FLL Referee Advisor
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