Michael Schuh's FLL Coach's Guide


This page outlines my advice to new coaches.  I have coached one or two teams each year since my first FLL season in 1999.  I have developed a coaching style that works for me and I describe it below.


I think it is important to know where FLL came from and what it is about so here is a brief description.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), and LEGO® MINDSTORMSTM have joined forces to bring you the FIRST LEGO League (FLL). This exciting, new program introduces kids ages 9-14 to the wonders of science, math and technology in a fun and engaging way.

An extension of the High School Robotics Competition, FLL pairs an academic challenge with a sports-like playing field where kids invent independent robots. Using the LEGO MINDSTORMS Robotics Invention System, teams of students, teachers, engineers and parents receive a Challenge which is different every year. Each team is then responsible for the design, construction, programming, and testing of their robot to compete in the Challenge.

The LEGO MINDSTORMS Robotics Invention Challenge Kit includes over 700 LEGO pieces, motors, light and touch sensors, gears, a CD-ROM including the RCX code programming environment, and an infrared transmission tower to download the program directly into the robot.

The heart of the LEGO MINDSTORMS set is a micro-computer mounted inside a super-sized LEGO brick. This is called the RCX and is the brain for each invention.

FLL was created by Dean Kamen.  From the FLL website "Dean Kamen is the Founder of FIRST and President, DEKA Research and Development Corporation.  Dean Kamen is an inventor, an entrepreneur and a tireless advocate for science and technology. His roles as inventor and advocate are intertwined -- his own passion for technology and its practical uses has driven his personal determination to spread the word about technology's virtues and by so doing to change the culture of the United States."  Dean is a hero in my book.  He has devoted countless hours and millions of his own money to get more children interested in science and technology.  I am pleased to be helping out and thankful that you are helping out too.

My then 9 year old son and I helped out with resetting the playing field a FIRST High School robotics competition in 1998 at the NASA Ames Research Center.  It was an amazing experience to see hundreds of high school students very excited and enthusiastic about participating in the robotics competition.  It was an electric atmosphere down on the playing field where we were volunteering.  It was at this competition that I learned that FIRST was putting together the FLL program and that 1999 would be their first year.  It was there that I asked my son if he wanted to do it and committed to making it happen for him.

I am a Ph.D. graduate in Mechanical Engineering from UC Berkeley with little or no training or experience in managing groups of people and in 1999 I had yet to coach a team in any sport or endeavor.  I put together a flyer and circulated it at my son's school and eight students signed up to participate.  We got a two robot kits and the challenge and had a great time.  It was a huge amount of work because back then you had to cut the playing field pieces from wood and assemble them yourself.  Then once you got that done, you realized that there were no tournaments to compete in so you had to locate other teams and then figure out how to put on a tournament.  Things are much easier now since the playing field is made up of a mat you role out and pieces that you assemble from LEGOs.  FLL has learned much and improved tremendously through the years.  The program has helped me relate and spend time with my children and allowed them to enjoy their natural born engineering talents.  I hope that you enjoy the program and get as much out of it as my children and I have.  I also will be bold and ask that if you can find the time, that you help spread the program and make it better.

Starting Your Own Team:

Teams are often associated with schools but they need not be.  Teams can be started by any group or collection of children and adults.

Coaching Your Team

For More Information:

Frequently Asked Questions:

Los Altos FIRST LEGO League Homepage.

Changes Log:

17 Jun '05
Changed to new Counter
26 Sep '04 Added link to Skye Sweeney's FLL Page
21 Aug '04 Minor Change
18 Dec '03 Fixed a few errors
12 Sep '03 Fixed a few errors.
10 Sep '03   First Version

This is the  visit to this page since 10 September 2003.