FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

The 2021 Season

Aug 05, 2020 Written by Frank Merrick.




The FIRST staff continues to hammer away on prep for the 2021 FIRST Robotics Competition season. Here are some things you may want to know about!

2021 Robots and Game Pieces

The Power Cell is not changing, and there will be three in each team’s Kickoff Kit but none in FIRST Choice (yes, we are planning on a Kickoff Kit, FIRST Choice, and a Virtual Kit). While we are purchasing more spares per field than we did for 2020, we also plan to continue repairing Power Cells in 2021, when necessary, in the same manner as 2020. You can see details here.

Besides the rule changes announced here, we are anticipating no other substantive changes that affect robot design. This includes any changes that open the design space but keep the robot legal. For example, robot starting configuration size, extension limits, and robot weight will not change.

There are relatively minor changes to the robot section still pending, and we won’t release them until we get closer to Kickoff (e.g. roboRIO image, Driver Station software version, any new legal motors or devices, etc.). All other changes specific to gameplay will be announced at Kickoff.

It's going to be a great game! (Again!)

2021 Rookie Criteria

For many years, a new team could only be considered a rookie if it had one (or zero) mentors with FRC experience and five (or fewer) students with FRC experience. Recognizing that occasionally experienced mentors want to pair up to undertake the significant work of starting a new team, we are changing the limit to allow a team to still be considered a rookie if it has two or fewer mentors with FRC experience. When new teams register they answer a series of questions, including questions about experienced mentor and student counts, to help make the rookie or non-rookie determination. In addition to changing the upper limit for experienced mentors, we've tried to make those questions clearer.

2021 Events

We recognize there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the upcoming season, and as a result we are looking at a variety of scenarios for what FRC may look like in 2021. One possibility we’re considering is scaling events to minimize the number of people in one place at one time. This could mean having one-day events with smaller numbers of teams (and volunteers) at each.

Our folks in the field, such as Regional Directors and District Managers, along with our Chief Volunteers, are helping us explore this possibility, but as you can imagine there are a lot of details to work out with this option that will take time to figure out. We hope to have more details for you soon. At the latest, we will have details about the 2021 FRC Season available prior to the planned opening of team registration in mid-September.

2020 Seniors

A question has been raised about whether students who were in their last year of high school in 2020 will be able to take team positions normally restricted to pre-college students, such as Driver, in 2021. We've given this serious consideration and decided we will not allow that. 

Some team positions, such as Driver, are restricted to high school students for good reason. FRC is designed to be a program for high school students, to inspire them to pursue interests in science and technology as adults. If we allow post-high-school students to take positions such as Driver, we would be preventing high school students on the same teams from having that experience.

I'm sure that for some of you this is yet one more disappointment in a year of disappointments, however, I do feel it is the best decision for the program is a whole. The good news is that even though you are restricted from participating in some positions, there are still many, many ways you can help your high school team, and I'm sure they would welcome you back to volunteer as an adult.


More info to come! I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy!


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At what point during a rookie season are teams allowed to add mentors with FRC experience and maintain rookie status? The new mentor connection portal encourages teams to find more mentors but at some point by doing so that team could lose their rookie status, right?

Hi Allen.

Rookie status is initially determined at the time the new team is created in the system, and we trust that teams will alert us if something substantial changes later that could affect their status. We do want to note that the updated language in the portal limits participation of 'full time' experienced FRC mentors to two, with 'full time' being defined as mentors who plan to participate directly in the majority of meetings with teams. Rookie teams can have as many non-full-time mentors as they like, and we encourage them to find all the support they need in this way. These rules are intended to put reasonable limits on what it means to be a 'Rookie' so we don't have teams with no members ever having even attended an FRC event competing against teams loaded with experience for those valuable Rookie awards/District points. Please note that having three or more experience full-time mentors doesn't mean you can't start a team, it just will be considered a veteran team for awards/points purposes.


Jamee Luce

Team Advocate, FIRST Robotics Competition

We are in Rochester NY.   Our Rochester City School District will be teaching grades 5-12 remotely.   For the Fall our team will only be allowed to meet online.    Our students are able to request a Chromebook from our School District.   Most of them may not afford a laptop or desktop or Internet access other than what they may obtain through the School District.  We have yet to find a method to do CAD, and Java SW Development, on the School Supplied Chromebooks. 

In addition our High School Students use Rochester City Buses for transportation.   At this time it is not safe nor desirable for Rochester to load City Buses with students.  I really doubt we will be allowed to meet to build or update our robot to field a team in the Spring of 2021.  If our High Schools do reopen in the Spring it is highly likely that it will be with a modified schedule to reduce the number of students per day.  And Sports and after School activities will be limited if allowed at all.

Sincerely;  Kurt M. Sanger, FRC 3838 Roc City Robotix

Our district will be using Chromebooks this year. For CAD design in my engineering course, I am planning to use OnShape, education plan. It is free and cloud based. Students can collaborate on designs virtually. 

Will teams that were rookies last year be considered rookies again this year since they did not complete the season? (Assuming they meet the other requirements specified). 

Hi Brent!

In some cases, yes. 2020 rookies will be considered 2021 rookies when it comes to awards and district points. They will, however, pay the veteran registration fee (when that is determined) because they will receive a veteran kit. 2020 rookies will not be eligible for the 2021 grants for new teams.


Jamee Luce

Team Advocate, FIRST Robotics Competition

WHAT ABOUT COMPETITIONS IN CANADA??? FRC Has not provided us with ANY information.....

Hi Don.

In this blog, any reference to FRC means all of FRC world wide. The plans for the Canada are the same as the plans for FRC everywhere in the world. We are considering a number of possibilities, including the one day event structure, for all FRC competitions world wide.


Jamee Luce

Team Advocate, FIRST Robotics Competition

The decision to play Infinite Recharge played in 2020 instead of the 2021 FRC game, which was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, has been announced. So what would the 2021 game be if this decision was not announced? I'm asking because I'm curious, I would be very happy if you answer.

Hi Yavuz!

Great question! The former 2021 game has been moved to the list of potential games to be played in the future.


Jamee Luce

Team Advocate, FIRST Robotics Competition


I gather from the blog that the 2021 season would be an extension of the 2020 season. Am I right? Also, the blog mentions virtual kits. Could you shed some light on this please? I am not sure exactly what this means.


Prasad Akavoor

Hi Prasad!

The 2021 season will not be an extension of the 2020 season. We will begin the 2021 season with Kickoff, as usual. We will be replaying INFINITE RECHARGE in 2021 with some small tweaks to the game.


The Virtual Kit is part of the Kit of Parts and has been for several (many?) years. You can find information about what was in the Virtual Kit in 2020 here. The Virtual Kit provides teams with resources that aren’t necessarily physical items, i.e, software licenses or vouchers.



Jamee Luce

Team Advocate, FIRST Robotics Competition

Are we allowed to carry over designs and physical robots made in or after the 2020 season into the 2021 season? 


Thank you.

Hi Jonathan.

The short answer is yes, but please see this blog post and associated published rule changes for the exact rules.


Jamee Luce

Team Advocate, FIRST Robotics Competition


How do I become a mentor for a team?

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