VEX VRC "In the Zone"

Referee Traning

Thank you for volunteering this season!

The 2017-2018 game "In the Zone" will be played at each of the TUSD Robotics tournaments this season. The training documents and videos found on this page should help you prepare to referee the game. The main goal of the referee is to make sure all robots are in the proper starting positions and to consistently enforce the rules of the game. Each match will be scored by two referees and a head referee will oversee the matches and make any final decisions that may be needed.

Thanks again for volunteering to referee for TUSD Robotics!

Game Overview

The Game:

VEX Robotics Competition In the Zone is played on a 12’x12’ square field configured as seen above. Two alliances – one “red” and one “blue” – composed of two teams each, compete in matches consisting of a fifteen second autonomous period followed by one minute and forty-five seconds of driver-controlled play.

The object of the game is to attain a higher score than the opposing Alliance by Stacking Cones on Goals, by Scoring Mobile Goals in Goal Zones, by having the Highest Stacks, and by Parking Robots.

See Game Video Overview Here

The Details:

There are eighty (80) Cones that can be Stacked on ten (10) Goals [5 per Alliance] during a Match. Some cones begin in designated locations on the field, while others are available to be entered into the field during the Match.

Each Robot (smaller than 18”x18”x18”) begins a match on one of their Alliance Starting Tiles. Each Alliance has three Zones in which they can place their Goals. Alliances earn points for Stacking Cones on Goals, Scoring Mobile Goals in Goal Zones, having the Highest Stacks, and by Parking Robots. A bonus is awarded to the Alliance that has the most points at the end of the Autonomous Period.


  • Each Cone Stacked on a Goal = 2 points
  • A Mobile Goal Scored in the 5 Point Zone= 5 points
  • A Mobile Goal Scored in the 10 Point Zone = 10 points
  • A Mobile Goal Scored in the 20 Point Zone= 20 points
  • Having the Highest Stack in a Zone = 5 points
  • A Robot that is Parked at the end of the Match = 2 points
  • Alliance with the most points at the end of Autonomous = 10 points
VEX In the Zone Game Manual

Click above to see the official game manual of the season.

Video 1: Referee Position Overview

The main points found in the video below:

  • Head Referee is the only one who should discuss the rulings with teams
  • Consistently enforce rules of the game as written
  • Referees can warn teams and help them avoid breaking rules
  • Be positive
  • When a referee is lenient with one team, it hurts the opposing team
  • At the end of a match, each referee will complete and submit an accurate score sheet

Video 2: Before the Match

The main points found in the video below:

  • make sure robots are set up correctly
  • make sure the game field elements are set up correctly
  • team members may not rotate cones on the field
  • if a cone leaves the field during play, it will not be returned
  • robots will be checked at robot inspection, but they must begin a match 18" x 18" x 18' or smaller and they may not expand beyond 36" horizontally during the match
  • legal pre-load cones must be touching their robot (not any other robot) and within the filed perimeter

Video 3: General Safety

The main points found in the video below:

  • robots may not damage field elements, scoring objects or other robots in any way
  • offending robots may be disabled and/or disqualified and will need to pass a re-inspection before returning to the field.
  • Drive team members may not touch their robot at any time during the match unless the robot has not moved at all; also known as the "Forgot to turn on your robot" rule.
  • Robots may not touch the preload cone until the human is no longer touching the cone
  • Preload cones must be placed upright in the preload zone

Video 4: Tipping, Entaglement, and Damage

The main points of the video below:

  • A robot is considered to have entangled an opposing robot if it has grabbed or hooked the opponent robot
  • incidental tipping, entanglement and damage are expected, however intentional or egregious tipping, entanglement, and damage are illegal.

Video 5: Disqualificaitons and Disablements

The main points in the video below:

  • Disqualification (DQ)- when a team or alliance is disqualified from a match due to a rule violation.
  • Disablement- when a team is no longer allowed to control its robot for the remainder of a match because of a rules violation.
  • DQs are rare and only issued after the match after referees conference
  • DQs must be egregious and match affecting
  • Disablements are also rare and are issued during a match by asking a team to put down their joysticks.
  • Warnings are always given before DQs and disablements

Video 6: Scoring Rules **Very Important**

The main points of the video below are:

  • If a mobile goal is touching multiple zones, it is scored in the higher point value goal zone.
  • The mobile goal may not be touching a robot of the same color alliance
  • If a mobile goal is in a zone but on top of other scoring objects, it counts as being scored in the highest goal value of the supporting objects. (If it is touching the 5 point pipe, then it counts as 5 points. Even if it is supported by a scoring object that is touching the ten point zone. The mobile goal MUST touch the foam in the ten point zone when touching the 5 point pipe in order to get the ten points.)
  • Only one mobile goal can be scored in the 20 point zone (if there are two, the one with the higher stack of cones is counted)
  • Cones must be fully nested to be scored
  • If a robot touches a cone on a stack, that cone and any cones above it are not counted
  • Cones must be on an upright mobile goal, tipped over mobile goals with stacks are not counted
  • Only one robot can be parked on a colored tile

Video 7: Interaction with Opponets' Stacks

The main points of the video below:

  • Robots may not intentionally grasp, grapple or attach to any field elements or the opposing mobile goals
  • Robots may not intentionally or accidentally, indirectly or directly, remove cones from an opponent's stack
  • Match affecting offenses will result in a disqualification

Video 8: Causing Opponents to Violate a Rule

The main points of the video below:

  • Intentional strategies causing an opponent to violate a rule are not permitted, and will not result in a disqualification or warning for the opposing alliance.

Video 9: Hoarding and Possession

The main points in the video below are:

  • Robots may not possess more than one cone at a time
  • A robot is considered to be possessing a cone if it is carrying, holding, or controlling the movement of a cone in the robot (includes being pushed in the concave area of a chassis)
  • Cone hoarding strategies are illegal; this refers to moving multiple cones to a specific location of the field to be kept away from the opposing alliance.
  • Robots may not block the opposing alliance from a pile of cones
  • Robots can control the movement of a mobile goal with stacked cones on it and pick up another cone

Training and Scoresheets

All referees will be trained by the head referee prior to the start of the matches. We will answer any questions and highlight any rules that need to be clarified.

Referees will work in pairs and will score every other match. Each referee will complete a scoresheet at the end of the match and compare with their partner referee to make sure the scores are consistent. Scoresheets and clipboards will be provided for you.


Please dress comfortably and a referee shirt will be provided for you at the event.

Thanks again for volunteering to help support TUSD Robotics this season! This should be a fun game this year.