Summer OTAs: Winning Begins Here…

As the school-year comes to an end, our focus turns to summer Organized Team Activities (OTAs).  Although we have made numerous changes to our program in the past 4 years, nothing has made more of an impact on our success than the physical development of our players.  We tell our players, “games are not won on Fall Friday nights and Saturday afternoons in front of thousands of people…  They are won in the off-season when nobody is watching…”

2017-06-06 Agilities
Our student athletes begin training 3 days a week the week after graduation.  On Mondays, we work speed development (acceleration, deceleration, change of direction, lateral movement, as well as linear speed) followed by a 7v7 practice.  On Tuesdays, we work strength then have an OLine practice.  We have another strength training session and 7v7 practice on Thursdays.  We do not want to compete with weekend family plans and summer baseball or AAU basketball so we intentionally avoid Friday and Saturday.

What we do and how we do it is even more important than that we do it.  In college, you have a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS); A luxury frequently unaffordable at most high schools.  CSCS are professionals who apply scientific knowledge to train athletes with the primary goal of improving athletic performance.  If you don’t have one, find one in your area and recruit him/her to get involved with your athletes.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking you know enough to do it just because you get in the gym 3-4 days a week.

I came to that epiphany this winter when I was invited to join a round-table discussion of Strength Coaches at Burke Mountain Academy.  BMA is the premier alpine ski academy in North America.  Their strength coach, Darrell Gray, has become a friend and is a valuable resource. Also in attendance were strength coaches from the US Ski Team, the Philadelphia Eagles, Sherbrooke University in Canada, and a local coach who owns a training facility nearby.  I was awed by the scientific approach and level of detail each coach incorporated into their training.  It was far beyond my level of understanding.  I was with them when they addressed incorporating unilateral and bilateral lifts and movements in the sagittal, transverse and frontal planes.  They started to lose me when they discussed Rates of Perceived Exhaustion (RPE) and Undulation, and completely lost me when they shifted to Block vs conjugate periodization training!

2017-06-06 strength and conditioning
Even if I found block vs conjugate periodization training daunting, I’m perceptive enough to recognize a need for experts when I see one. We’re fortunate to have an all-star supporting the Hilltoppers when we start on June 12: Adrian Guyer CSCS, USAW 2, CSAC of XIP Training Systems, will implement our summer program and instruct our players on their warm up, speed training and strength program.  It seems the more letters after their name, the more qualified they are to create and instruct your program, but we’re equally lucky to have a professional who cares deeply about our team’s success and players’ development.

Over the next few weeks we will go into more detail on our athletic performance training, our OLine practices and our 7v7 preparation. We’ll conduct camps, clinics, host and participate in 7v7 competitions, and have fun working hard together. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, exchanging ideas, and preparing for all the new season brings.

Coach Rich Alercio is available to discuss summer OTAs, 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.

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