Attending a VEX U Robotics Competition Event

What to Expect

Tournaments are busy, fast-moving days. Here are a few tips to help teams enjoy the day:

  • Make sure your team is well rested and well hydrated. Bring snacks that are non-perishable.
  • Dress comfortably and wear closed-toed shoes.
  • Wearing team shirts or costumes adds to the fun.
  • Ensure that your robot is charged and ready for action!
  • Make sure all equipment and parts are labeled with your team/contact name or team number.
  • Arrive a few minutes early, if possible, and become familiar with the event venue.
  • Ensure that an adult associated with the team supervises the students throughout the event.
  • Review the event agenda and match schedule. Make sure the students know their team number.
  • Assign a timekeeper, who ensures the team arrives on time for their matches.
  • Encourage your team to interact and share with other teams to enhance their learning experience.
  • Demonstrate courtesy and respect to the dedicated event staff and event participants at all times.
  • Offer positive support and encouragement throughout the day.
  • Share your team spirit! HAVE FUN!

Safety at Events

Be sure to have everyone review the Safety Procedures at Events.

Key Terms


When a team arrives at a tournament, they must check in. Each event has a designated check in area where coaches let the event partner know they arrived. The coach receives any pertinent information including inspection sheet, schedule, and pit map.

Team Pit Area

A designated area for coaches and teams. Each pit area has team tables and either access to outlets or a charging area. This pit area is where teams work on their robots, wait for matches, and are interviewed by the event judges. Pit tables are clearly marked by team number.


Before a team may compete in a tournament, they must go through a robot inspection to ensure the robot is in compliance with rules related to size, parts, and software. Legal and non-legal components are defined in the Game Manual. Inspections usually take 20-30 minutes but can take longer, so you'll want to allow for enough time.

Event Meeting

An event meeting is typically run by the Head Referee and/or the Event Partner before matches begin. All participants, including students, coaches, and other adults associated with the team are expected to attend. This meeting reviews safety, rules, and behavioral expectations. Event-specific information, like where to line up and/or any adjustments to the schedule, is also provided.


Tournaments allows teams of students to showcase their knowledge and skill in designing, building, and programming their robot. As part of many events, volunteer judges review all submitted engineering notebooks, observe team performance, and conduct team interviews in the pit area. Each judged award has specific criteria, as described in the Awards article.

Qualifying Matches

A Qualifying Match schedule will be distributed after all teams have checked in. This schedule shows the randomly assigned teams that will face each other in the Qualifying Matches. For tournaments with multiple fields, the schedule also indicates on which field the Match will take place. Qualification Matches are used to determine rankings for the Elimination Matches.

Each two-minute match consists of one team of two robots as the Red Alliance and one team of two robots as the Blue Alliance. Teams put red or blue VEX license plates on opposing sides of their robot to indicate their alliance for the match. Each match starts with an autonomous period, which is followed by a driver-controlled period (except in the VAIRC program, which has no driver-controlled period!). The alliance that outscores the other is the winner of that match.

Robot Skills Matches

During most events, teams have an opportunity to participate in Robot Skills Matches. These are usually held on a separate field near the competition fields or on the main field in the morning. Teams should check the event agenda to determine when the Robot Skills field opens and closes. Most events run the Robot Skills matches on a first-come basis, so teams should plan accordingly to ensure they get their Robot Skills matches completed.

There are two types of Robot Skills Matches: Driving and Programming.

Driving Skills Match

A Driving Skills Match consists of a sixty-second Driver Controlled Period. There is no Autonomous Period. VAIRC robots do not participate in Driving Skills Matches.

Autonomous Coding Skills Match

An Autonomous Coding Skills Match consists of a sixty-second Autonomous Period. There is no Driver Controlled Period.

Robot Skills Score

A team’s Robot Skill score is determined by the sum of their highest Driving Skills Match and Autonomous Coding Skills Match at the event. Robot Skills matches are optional, but are highly recommended because many awards consider a team's Robot Skills ranking, and Robot Skills rankings may be used to fill spots at Championship events. Teams should review the Robot Skills section of the Game Manual for differences in rules and/or scoring between Robot Skills and Teamwork Matches.

Finals: Alliance Creation/Selection

At VURC and VAIRC events, each team serves as its own alliance because VURC and VAIRC teams compete with two robots in every match.

Finals: Elimination Matches

At VURC and VAIRC events, red alliances and blue alliances face off against each other in a “bracket” format; the winning alliance moves on to the next round until one alliance has won over all opponents. Any ties result in additional matches until one alliance wins and advances. The bracket continues to converge with winners moving on until a Tournament Champion is declared!


There are three types of awards: performance awards, judged awards, and individual awards. Not all awards are offered at all events. The Event Partner provides a list of the awards offered at the event on under the “Awards” tab. Each judged award has specific criteria, as described in the Awards article.

World Skills Rankings

After your team attends an event and participates in the Robot Skills Matches, those scores are compared to the scores of teams from around the world! Visit the VURC World Skill Standings or VAIRC World Skills Standings and search by grade level or region to see where your team stands in the global rankings.