As I evaluate the past 5 weeks of OTAs and the week of Mini Camp, we have seen tremendous growth in a very “green” offensive line. They have a strong understanding of Zone, Man and Gap Schemes and the different languages we use to communicate the blocks we execute in those schemes. I’m proud of the things they accomplished, but I’m always looking for ways to improve, and things we can do better. To that end, I must ask myself, “What were our mistakes? Knowing what I know now, is there anything I would do different were we starting over?” I make notes of these items and link them to a calendar for the start of next year’s OTAs. When next year’s OTA preps come around, I’m ready with notes and a fresh perspective and don’t have to rely on my (aging) memory to get it right!
The mistake that I recognize making is not checking the scheduling conflicts of our players before planning the OTA sessions. I had originally scheduled Monday’s as our OLine day and Tuesdays and Thursdays as our 7v7 days. Unfortunately, I found out on our 1st Monday 2 of our projected OLine starters were playing Babe Ruth baseball and had games every Monday at the same time as our sessions. Then, I got the American Legion baseball schedule and saw that my own son, our backup quarterback and projected starter at Split End, had games every Tuesday and Thursday. In week 2, we made the switch to have 7v7 practices on Mondays and Thursdays and OLine training on Tuesdays. Lessons learned and noted for next year: “anticipate schedule conflicts and plan accordingly.”
The best thing we did this year was to incorporate a training app for our strength and speed workouts. We used “Train Heroic” (https://trainheroic.com/). It has allowed us to eliminate paper workout programs and the administrative trivia of filing and occasional loss. It also allows me to track the number of workouts each player go in during the sessions, how long each workout took and what their loads were for each lift. As a boarding school, some of our players live out of the area, state or even country. The app allowed them to do the same workout as their teammates who live locally and aggregated the pertinent data for our staff.
An ancillary benefit of the app was that it allowed me to step away during the Week 5 training sessions. I had noticed that our kids were developing nicely during OTAs but no one was stepping up in a leadership role. We graduated a dominant senior class who possessed great leadership skills, and who cultivated great followership amongst the underclassmen. Stepping away a bit offered returners the opportunity to step up as leaders and was of paramount importance for us during OTAs and Mini Camp and will be again for Training Camp.
We had a lot of talent last year, but it was the social cohesion and belief in “team” created by our senior leaders that made us a special, and arguably the greatest team in the 100+ year history of St Johnsbury Academy. We have talent again this year, but our future leaders will need to be cultivated and accept the responsibilities of their new roles. I look forward to relaying our progress in that vein during the coming weeks.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and share http://www.olineskills.com with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for your time!