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Run a Team

Combining the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology!

We call FIRST Robotics Competition the ultimate Sport for the Mind. High-school student participants call it “the hardest fun you’ll ever have.”  Under strict rules, limited time and resources, teams of students are challenged to raise funds, design a team "brand," hone teamwork skills, and build and program industrial-size robots to play a difficult field game against like-minded competitors. It’s as close to real-world engineering as a student can get. Volunteer professional mentors lend their time and talents to guide each team. Each season ends with an exciting FIRST Championship.

Learn About FRC


  • Forges the connection between classroom lessons and real-world application.

  • Experience STEM fields as future areas of study and career choices.

  • Work side-by-side with mentors from a variety of backgrounds: education, industry, government.

  • Get hands-on programming and rapid prototyping experience

  • Apply the engineering process and learn to find the opportunity in failure.

  • Gain access to over $80 million in FIRST dedicated college scholarships.

  • Rise to the top in consideration for college admissions, internships, apprenticeships.

About FIRST Robotics Competition

The Ultimate Sport for the Mind

The varsity Sport for the Mind, FIRST Robotics Competition combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams of 10 students or more are challenged to raise funds, design a team "brand," hone teamwork skills, and build and program robots to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. It’s as close to "real-world engineering" as a student can get.

Teams design and build robots, raise funds, design and market their team brand, and do community outreach to earn specific awards. Participants are eligible to apply for $80M+ in college scholarships.  Each season concludes with regional championship events and an exciting FIRST Championship in Houston, TX.


There are two entities that work together to grow and support teams.

FIRST HQ provides:

  • Program information

  • Program resources

  • Team registration

  • FRC Storefront

TNFIRST in Tennessee provides:

  • Access to the FIRST Robotics Competition the
    moky Mountain Regional in Knoxville

  • Tennessee specific information and grants

  • Local resources

TN-First-logo - High Quality - Grey - Sm

Get Started

Find an Existing Team or Start Your Own

Finding an existing team
TNFIRST does not place students on teams, and FIRST privacy policies forbid us from sharing coach contact information. Our role is to assist new teams in forming by connecting them to local resources to help them be successful and sustainable. Most teams in Tennessee are organized through schools so contact your school to find out if a team exists and how to join. If there is no team existing, we would be happy to assist you in starting a new team.  Grants are available to help start your team! 


You can search the national list of teams and events.  Go to our Find a Team Page.

Start a team
Use the information at FIRST HQ 'Start a Team' page to start a new team at your school if one does not already exist.

Register a Team

Teams register for the season with FIRST HQ. FIRST team numbers are retained season to season so returning teams should register using their previously assigned team number. 


FIRST HQ has a grants available to new rookie teams that will cover the team’s season registration fee and provide funds towards the team’s kit of parts purchase. Rookie teams should NOT remit payment for anything until after receiving an award decision on a grant.

Register a New Team (Rookie)

  • Registration instructions for Rookie Teams – this FTC guide is also useful for FRC teams 

    • Follow the instructions in the above linked guide starting with “Create a FIRST Account” (if needed).

    • Choose the FRC Program and continue up to “Enter the Storefront”. Do not enter the Storefront yet!

    • The Team Profile will require that a Team Name is entered. If your team has not chosen a name yet, just put “TBD”. This field can be updated at a later time.

    • Complete the “School/Organization” section with your team’s affiliated entity. This is key information for grant eligibility.

    • Watch for an email from ‘‘ with your temporary team number (starts with 2019).

  • Do NOT pay for anything at this point!

  • Next step is to apply for the FIRST HQ Rookie FRC Team Grant.

Register a Returning Team (Veteran)

  • Registration instructions for Veteran Teams – guide includes screenshots

  • A returning team’s team number is retained from year to year. Veteran teams register for the season using their team’s previously assigned team number.

Organize Your Team

Team Members

What is the allowable team size?
A team needs 10 or more high school-aged students willing to put in time after school (and maybe some weekends) and to do any job the team needs to succeed.  
Student team members are encouraged to bring any skills they already have, like programming, electronics, metalworking, graphic design, web creation, public speaking, videography, and many more. FIRST Robotics Competition welcomes every student, with or without special skills. Like our Mentors say, “This is the only sport where if you show up, you can play.”

Registering student team members
New Requirement this year: Youth team member registration via our on-line Youth Registration System is required this year in order to participate in all FIRST programs. Links below provide guides to explain Parent/Legal Guardian steps and Lead Coach/Mentor steps that need to take place.


Coaches and Mentors

Every team is required to have two registered adult coaches who have completed the FIRST Youth Protection screening process. Any adult can be a coach – teacher, parent, industry professional, college student. Training sessions, workshops, and a supportive FIRST community are available to help get new coaches/mentors up to speed. The scope of the roles is at the discretion of the coaches.

What is the role of a mentor?
Mentors provide assistance to teams, at one or more meetings, in their particular area of expertise.  They provide valuable one-on-one interaction and serve as a resource in their specialty. Mentors with skills in these areas are helpful, but not mandatory:  engineering, programming, tool skills, electrical, build, CAD, business, marketing, communications, administration.  As a Mentor or adult Volunteer, you should be meeting with your team at least several times per week during the build and competition season (January - April). Many mature teams also meet throughout the school year, and some compete in off-season events during the summer. You, your family, and your available free time can decide together how much time you can devote to the program.


Where can we find mentors?
Approach area businesses for in kind donations in the form of mentorship. Parents of team members can take on a mentorship role in support of the team. Ask teachers or other volunteers in your area to help with aspects of your team. Reach out other local FIRST teams; their experience and knowledge base can be a tremendous resource.


Do coaches/mentors need to have a technical background?
A technical background is helpful, but not necessary. Mentors can be brought in to help with the technical aspects of the team. Coaches must be willing to acquire some basic knowledge of programming and robot building.

Meeting Place and Times

Where do teams meet?
Teams can meet anywhere that is appropriate and safe such as a school or a sponsor provided location. It is important to set a regular schedule and procedure for team meetings. Things to look for in a meeting site:

  • Safe work space large enough for the team members and their equipment

  • Safe area for tool usage

  • Flexible meeting hours

  • Internet Access

  • Secure place to store equipment

  • Work tables and chairs

  • Share host duties, if possible

What is the time commitment?

As a Mentor or adult Volunteer, you should be meeting with your team at least several times per week during the build and competition season (January - April). Many mature teams also meet throughout the school year, and some compete in off-season events during the summer. You, your family, and your available free time can decide together how much time you can devote to the program.


As a team member, the same applies. Be prepared to meet at least several times per week from January through April. Like any sport or other after-school activity, the more time you invest, the better you will become at your task(s). During build season, the pressure is on, so be prepared to also spend some nights and weekends helping your team.

The Season and the Game

2019-2020 Tennessee FRC Schedule

Consult the FIRST HQ FRC Calendar page for specific dates for team and event registrations.


TBD Date- FIRST Choice Ordering (Dates TBD)

January 4, 2020- University of Tennessee - Knoxville Kickoff 

March 25-28, 2020-  Smoky Mountains FRC Regional

April 15-19, 2020-  FIRST Championship, Houston


What is the yearly game?
HQ reveals he annual game to the teams at kickoff in early January. Teams determine their strategy then design, build, program, and test their robot to meet the requirements of the game. Working through the engineering process brings the reality of science and technology to students on a more hands-on level while instilling teamwork values.  Teams can access game rules and specifics at FIRST HQ. Knowledge is power!

Gather Your Materials

Materials Needed

FRC Kit of Parts:  

Each season, FIRST Robotics Competition teams receive a Kit of Parts (KoP). The KoP is not designed to be a "bolt together" solution to play the game, but is a starting point, containing mostly donated components from Suppliers across multiple industries.

Optional materials

T-shirts, hats, and/or other “team swag”. Most teams have a unique team identity which includes dressing alike.


Learn about the playing field:
Consult the FIRST Robotics Competition “Playing Field” page.


Here are some basic cost parameters:

  • There are never any “per student” fees; all costs for individual team members are assumed by the team as a group.

  • The annual fees for team registration, a robot kit of parts, and event participation are $5,000 - $6,000. Additional costs for travel, food, team shirts and other optional items will vary.

  • FIRST offers many fundraising opportunities and teams are encouraged to create their own. Grants are also available, as well as sponsorships provided locally, regionally and nationally by many corporations.

  • FIRST believes that no team that wants to participate should have to bow out due to lack of resources. We will do everything possible to make funds available to all teams who need extra help.


See the FIRST HQ 'FRC Pricing and Payment' page for more details.

Grants and Funding

FIRST HQ Team Grants

FIRST HQ grants for FRC Rookie and Veteran teams are listed on the 'FRC Grants' page.

Got questions about FIRST FRC Grants?  Consult the 'Team Grants FAQ' page. Still got questions about team grants?  Please email As always, if you have one, please include your team number in the subject line of the note.


Other sources of team funding
Teams are encouraged to take responsibility for their budget in order to sustain the team:

  • Reach out to area businesses – especially those related to technology – for sponsorship.

  • Have the parents of team members check with their employers as many companies offer grant funds for youth STEM programs where employees are actively involved.

  • Charge a per student fee to cover team expenses.

  • Hold team fundraisers.

  • Connect with organizations such as your school, parent organization, scout group, or area professional organizations who may be able to assist with funding.

  • Seek STEM grants from local or national organizations.

  • Consult the FIRST HQ Fundraising Toolkit page.


Event Registration

Smoky Mountains FRC Regional Event Registration
Registration is done at the local level, and not with FIRST.  See the FRC Events page for a list of events Tennessee teams can attend. Each event details page provides a link to the pre-event information and registration form.  The link to the registration form will only be shown when registration is open.  It will not show if the event is full, or if registration is closed.  After registering for an event, teams will receive their confirmed event placement by email and see their team listed in the event team roster, and not on their FIRST Team Dashboard.  Information on event registration is emailed to all registered teams starting in September, and registration occurs in October.

Preparing for Competition

Teams can find information about preparing for their event, as well as a checklist of what to bring, at the FIRST HQ Resource Library page each year.  Information is updated in January.

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