The most important thing you can do to jump start your season is to read the documentation we provide on www.usfirst.org/ftc. I know it's no fun to sit down with a manual, but they really do provide insightful information. Start with the Mentor Guide, which will help you better understand the specifics of running an FTC Team, then read the Game Manual Part 1, which contains rules related to building your robot. After Kickoff on Sept. 7, read the Game Manual Part 2, which contains the specific rules for this year's challenge. These three documents will lay the foundation for your entire season.
You should also spend some time learning the basics of the technology that goes into an FTC robot. Your students will do most of the heavy lifting in this realm, but having a basic understanding will help you guide them. Here are four areas you should learn more about: The Field Control System, the Samantha Module, The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT, programming languages (LabVIEW for LEGO MINDSTORMS and ROBOTC) and the robot kit of parts.
The FTC website contains many training resources that will help you understand the basics of each of these areas. Spend some time browsing and reading the documentation in the FTC Toolbox. I've also made a number of easy to digest videos which cover many of these topics, which you can find at www.youtube.com/firsttechchallenge.
After these two items, the next single most important thing you can do is connect with a veteran FTC Team. You can use Google, Facebook and Twitter to search for FTC Teams near you. The What Teams and Events are In My Area tool is also good for narrowing down your search options. It won't provide contact information, but it will help you find team names and numbers. Your local Affiliate Partner is also a good resource for connecting with veteran teams near you.
Finally, if there are any workshops, online trainings, courses, etc., you can attend, do it. These types of events will give you more in-depth knowledge and will provide you the opportunity to ask questions.
Following these four pieces of advice is sure to make the start of your season a slam dunk. Good luck and I hope you have a great season Kickoff!
Do you have ideas on other things rookie FTC Teams should do to start their season right? Please leave them as comments below.