I recently read a social media group post from a coach who stated he played offensive line in high school then began coaching right after high school and that he knows a lot about offensive line. My first thought was “oh no…” But then I read on as he also relayed, he is now looking for a mentor to learn more about offensive line play. To that I say, “Alleluia!”
Certainly playing this great game and being influenced by coaches can naturally lead to a desire to stay close to it and look for the opportunity to pass on to others the benefits enjoyed as a player. However, where you sit determines what you see… If you only played high school football and then began coaching right away, you most likely still have a great deal to learn. Your “view” is based on your experience and as a player, it’s often a narrow one. Finding a mentor, (the right mentor!), can have an enormous impact on your career. Perspective, experience, opportunities, and often an understanding of the second and third order effects of decisions or circumstances you may be considering are all potential benefits of a mentor relationship.
I have been blessed to have been coached by and to have coached with some great men who have taught me much about life and football. If you were not so fortunate, find someone who is an expert and seek their assistance as a mentor. Be candid about your interests, but be equally so about your commitment to the relationship with a mentor and your willingness to pay forward the investment your mentor offers you. Then, as you learn to view the game and its nuances from their perspective, start copying what they do. Fashion Designer Yohji Yamamoto is credited with saying, “Start copying what you love. Copy, copy, copy, copy. At the end of the copy you will find yourself.”
When New Jersey football coaching legend Warren Wolf once put his arm around me and said, “Rich, you are a young George DeLeone” it was most likely the result of how much time I spent observing and copying Coach DeLeone. When American Football Monthly named me a Guru of offensive line play in the Northeast, it was the result of my studying under my mentor Jim Pry who was similarly mentored by the guru of all offensive line coaches, Jim McNally.
The time spent listening to, learning from, and observing men like Coach DeLeone, Coach Pry, Coach McNally and Coach Flood, (who is now the OLine Coach at Texas), formulated how I teach. Now, I appreciate and take great care of any opportunity I have to reinforce the investments of these great men by stepping in where I can and helping other coaches.
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 supporting this blog and joining our conversations, and as always, thanks for your time!