Talking the Talk!

As May comes to a close, I want you all to know how much I’ve appreciated your feedback on the “Making Your Program the Big Time” series of blog posts. “Big Time” programs use a variety of tools to help reinforce team culture and commitment. Over the past few weeks we’ve reflected on setting standards, building traditions, innovatively managing equipment and budgets, and how many of the concepts underpinning coaching apply regardless of the level of play.

This week I’d like to reflect on “Talking the Talk.” It may sound cliché, but words have meaning. Words, phrases, and sayings underpin every team’s culture, and an early measure of team and culture building can be assessed by the transition from students’ common speech patterns to the way teammates speak individually and collectively.

“Big Time” words matter. When we refer to things in our program, we use the same terms that our kids hear on ESPN.  In two weeks, we begin our summer schedule but we do not call them Summer Workouts.  We refer to them as OTAs or Organized Team Activities.  When we host our July camp we call it Mini Camp.  We never use the term 2-a-days but rather call it pre-season training camp.

2017-05-30 OTAs

On the first day of training camp, we will put our players though a Combine test much like the one we all see on TV. We also divide our players not as upper and under class men, but as Veterans and Rookies.  When one of our players gets hurt they are either placed on the Injured Reserve (IR) or Players Unable to Perform (PUP).  The IR list is for those who are out for an anticipated period of time.  The PUP list is for those who are day-to-day.

2017-05-30 Combine

Lastly, we no longer use the term Strength & Conditioning as everyone despises conditioning.  We call it Athletic Performance Training.  During the season, we train on Monday afternoons and Thursday mornings.  Since the boys do not have the opportunity to get breakfast on Thursdays, my wife sets up a table outside of our weight room with breads and muffins she baked the night before along with fresh fruit and drinks.  We call it our Team Training Table.

When my coaches and I hear our Veterans teach the Rookies our teams’ words and phrases, I know they are helping new teammates learn to talk the talk so they can walk the walk of a Hilltopper. When I hear Rookies talking the talk, and explaining our words to parents and friends, (with pride and a sense of belonging), I know we’re on the way to building something special; a Big Time program even in a small school in Vermont.

Coach Rich Alercio is available to discuss coaching philosophy, X’s & O’s, or teach his O-Line “techniques in the trenches.” Contact Coach at and share with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for your time. I look forward to continuing our conversation!

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