Advice on team people problems?

I don’t see many people talking about problems with their team’s work relationship, and couldn’t find advice that helped me anywhere. So here we are.
Problem: My team consists of 4 older kids and one younger kid (me). Three of the older kids started robotics this summer, and the other one and I joined in the fall. Now, this group of 3 already had the work split evenly and efficiently between them, and were well into the engineering process by the time I joined.
They never made an effort to include me, and I never bothered to bring up their apathy towards me and the other late joiner. The trio built, coded, and notebooked the entire robot, and I wandered around and cleaned up their messes.

Our coach had to intervene, so now I’m on the drive team and I’m building the expansion. However, things are still tense and I have no idea what to do. How do I “advocate for myself”? Does anyone even remotely relate to this, or is it a skill issue? Any advice?

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I know how you feel. I’ve done robotics the longest of anyone on my team, but I still sometimes feel kind of useless. I suggest brainstorming ideas that could improve your notebook or robot (research is key) and then suggesting to the rest of your team that you will do it. This could be anything from Cad to new mechanisms. I also recommend spending any time you can with the robot, working on driving if nothing else. It’s never bad to have a backup driver. If you aren’t sure what any mech does or how certain parts of the code work, ask. Finally, at tournaments, learn how to scout well and get match predictions. Especially for alliance selection. Good luck with your team!


Hey man, sorry to hear the situation you’re going in.

Personally, I think it’s best to look at this situation from all perspectives. Maybe this trio is very competitive in their last year of robotics, and they haven’t developed a trust relationship with you to get tasks done properly and on time. Obviously, there needs to be something done by you, not your teacher, to initiate this. Not that you’re building expansion and on the drive team, do it well. Research proper expansion mechs and notebook the EDP so you can contribute to the notebook as well. Talk with the coder about how you designed it and how the piston should act. Propose your own unique ideas. Doing this will slowly help the team incorporate you. Right now, the team has their own flow and to put it brief, you’re an outsider trying to get in. Maybe they think you’re gonna break that flow, or something else. But really all you can do is try your best to communicate and prove yourself. Don’t just dabble around and pick up parts, actively start building something. If they don’t give you a job, ask. It’s on you if you don’t communicate with them.

Hope that helped.


They don’t need you. The coach forcing them to delegate to you is unnatural and will cause tension.

You could ask for them to explain their methods to you, or have them give you feedback on your own work, but do not expect them to need you. Do your best to turn it from a peer relationship into a mentor-mentee relationship.

My recommendation is, either provide specific value that they need, or do your own thing.

You can provide value by… reviewing match footage of them, other regional top teams, and other global top teams, preparing checklists or flow charts, scouting. See if your coach can help you become a peer in these critical secondary ways.


Had a similar situation on a team that I was on. What worked best for me was to just be blunt. Asking things such as “Is there anything I can do” or “How can I be helpful.” Simply doing that can help take a load off the trios soldiers for things of less importance. You might be an errand person for a while but if you gain their trust/respect. They might start trying to incorporate you into the main building process.


This is true but it is important to walk the line between “How can I help” and “Stop what you are doing and come up with things for me to do, and then teach me how to do them, and try not to mind if I screw it up.” Learning how to be a good follower is as hard as being a good leader. You need to look for ways to support effectively without costing your mentor/peer undue effort.

As @Insomniac said, you will likely just be an errand person rather than “build technician”, and it will take time for them to chose to teach you things.


As a coach, I have seen this a few times. The challenge with robotics is that a number of team members are more seasoned builders, and others are just learning. Both are great, but what I find with the highly proficient builders or coders is that there is very little desire or patience for the new learners or new members.

A newer team member might be building a prototype based on an idea that they have had, and the more seasoned builder bangs out a different solution and starts to incorporate it into the robot when the proper course of action should have been the seasoned builder works WITH the new person to bring the new person’s idea into reality for testing.

As much as I have wanted to directly intervene, it is important to learn how to operate within a group. Maybe you need to have a “come to Jesus” moment where you stop building and spend a few minutes on the group dynamic. If that doesn’t work, then perhaps a more welcoming team or a new team altogether makes more sense. You should be your own best advocate while understanding that they might have already come up with a viable plan for a bot that needs to first come to fruition before modifications and new ideas make sense.

Good luck and don’t let this incident turn you away from robotics.


Hey! I was in this situation last year. I took an odd route to ‘resolve’ it, though, it is something to consider.

Last year I was a middle schooler playing on the ‘dream team’ robotics team- all of our experienced members + the random person. I knew nothing about robotics.

What I did all year was grunt work. I rearranged gears and what I mostly did was field reset. Hours a day every day, I reset the field.

However, that wasn’t all I did. I memorized the game manual and was the “rule lawyer” for the team, assisting our driver. I also made sure to assist my builder whenever he was in a mood to answer questions. I spent the year attempting to gain as much VEX knowledge as I could with intention to hold a more solid position the following year.

While things happened and it did not go as planned, I believe with diligence it is possible to learn significant amounts. While this may not help your situation, it helped mine. Good luck, and thank you for bringing up team dynamics. I appreciate the honest and open conversation in this thread.


I can kind of relate to this. On our team, there is one person who just takes control, and tries to do everything. Most other people in the team do less than they should, and because of him being trying to take control, some people didn’t even both to take part. The problem is less this year, but it is still there. The solution that I’ve found is to continuously remind that person that there are others on our team, and I try to push people into taking part more. Given what you said about your team, I’d remind them that you are part of the team whenever they try to take over. Try and take part more and contribute. Do notebook or CAD whenever possible. Don’t let them stop helping. This is probably going to be harder due to the age gap, but over time, it will work.

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They, and we all, need you more than you know. If they don’t make an effort to include, help, and put younger/new members into a participatory role, then vex won’t become all that it can, and may ultimately fail.

I would go out of my way to bring new people into the sport.

Also… this year’s almost over. I would start planning for next year, which will begin immediately after the game reveal @ worlds, just a few months away. Either find a new team, have a frank talk with your current one, or start your own team, but be ready to roll when the reveal is done.