Summer Calendar

Today marks my 100th Blog Post on OLineskills.com. Hard to believe when I started this experiment 2.5 years ago it would turn into such a wonderful dialogue with players, parents, faculty, community members, and other coaches. I believe coaching is a privilege and as I’ve stated before, my efforts have, and continue to be an endeavor to pay forward all the investments others have made in me. I’m convinced getting the culture of a team right is a prerequisite for success and a coach’s primary responsibility. It’s been great to share such perspectives with all of you, and in keeping with the theme of culture and communication, let’s get on to the meat of our 100th conversation. Whether this is your 100th blog post, or your 1st, thanks for taking the time to join me on this journey.

The culture of our football program is built on the philosophy that games are not won on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons in the Fall.  Games are won with the work done from January through July with the lion’s share of the work in June and July.  2019-05-23 Summer CalendarIf you want better participation numbers for your summer organized team activities (OTAs), be sure to create a calendar and get it into the hands of your players and their parents as soon as possible.  We distributed ours on Friday of last week.  With family vacations, other sports travel teams and everything else kids can do these days, we need them to know in advance when and where they need to be.

Our summer calendar includes the days and times of our OTAs, 7v7 tournaments, Strongman competitions, and camps.  We include reminders to update their physicals and the closing date of our online team store so that they have their shorts and tees ready for training camp.  We also include the date of our Meet the Coaches parent meeting.  More to come on that in a future blog.  Scrimmage dates and our first game are also listed.  Most importantly, we intentionally schedule weeks where we have no OTAs.  Players are on their own the weeks of June 3, July 29 and August 5.  Those are the weeks we encourage our families to take their vacations.

If you want your kids to participate and your parents to buy into your program, open the lines of communication and give them the information they need so that they give you what you need…their kids with you Monday, Wednesday and Fridays through the summer. Culture begins with (and is underpinned by) communication of standards and expectations. If we share common goals, common awareness, and a common vision of success, we can make consistent decisions for the team’s best interests. (Save the surprises for opponents!)

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 richalercio@gmail.com and share http://www.olineskills.com with your colleagues and friends.

Thanks for supporting this blog and joining our conversations over these 100 blog posts, and as always, thanks for your time!

Occam’s Razor

The principle of Occam’s Razor states that one should not make more assumptions than the minimum needed.  It also states that the simplest solution tends to be the right one.  Although Occam’s Razor is intended to be used to solve a complex problem with competing hypotheses, we use it to determine our summer 7v7 installation schedule.

What could be more complex than a teenage boy trying to decide which of 5 receivers he should throw the ball to while they are being covered by 7 opponents? 2019-05-16 Simplify Even more problematic, we coaches have a funny way of making things more difficult than necessary…

We love to prove (largely to ourselves) how smart we are and how much football we know.  Unfortunately, as I have stated in earlier blogs, it is not about what you know.  It’s is about what you can get your players to understand and execute.

As we prepare our summer 7v7 installation schedule, we need to keep in mind we will have a new quarterback this season.  Therefore, we need to minimize assumptions and simplify solutions.  Regardless of how much we may like a play or pass route combination, if it does not fall into one of our three basic Quarterback read categories, it will not be installed.

Similarly, regardless of the backfield action, we group every route combination into one of three quarterback read categories:

  • Triangle Reads
  • Curl-Flat Middle Reads
  • Level Reads

We have 42 different route combinations that we can lump into these three reads.

42 route combinations are a complex problem for defenses, but we “simplify” them for our Quarterback; tipping a hat to Occam’s Razor.

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 richalercio@gmail.com and share http://www.olineskills.com with your colleagues and friends.

Thanks for your time!

Champions On & Off The Field

We are very proud of our 2017 state championship and our 3 state championship game appearances in the past 5 years.  We are equally proud of our Gatorade player of the year and USA Today Offensive and Defensive players of the year, but what we are most proud of is something very few people know.2019-05-09 Cady Award

On Sunday, May 5 the Vermont Chapter of the National Football Foundation hosted its annual scholar-athlete banquet.  The foundation provides 6 scholarships to the top student-athletes in the state every year.  They also provide scholarships to the most courageous athlete and the recipient of the Community Service Award.  In the past 3 years, St Johnsbury Academy Hilltoppers have captured 5 of those scholarships.

We have had one of the top scholar-athletes in each of the past 3 years (2016-Collin Urie, 2017-Jasper Rankin, 2018-Renwick Smith).  In 2016, Shane Alercio captured the Most Courageous Athlete scholarship for battling a rare vestibular disease called Dandy’s Syndrome that negatively impacts balance and ocular tracking.  This weekend, Jake Cady took home the Community Service Award for his efforts in creating a non-profit called Team Sullycat which has raised over $40,000 to help support families battling cancer.

Our players are champions on the field, in the classroom, in the community, and in life.

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 richalercio@gmail.com and share http://www.olineskills.com with your colleagues and friends.

Thanks for your time!

YOU are on the clock!

Last week’s NFL draft allowed teams to pick their Jimmies & Joes for the upcoming season.  Some teams followed last week’s football saying…culture trumps talent.  2019-05-02 You're on the clock LogoThe Giants clearly prioritized culture over talent when they traded away one of the most talented players in the league earlier this year.  They also went with culture with their #6 pick in the draft.  Not to say that Daniel Jones is not talented, but he is most definitely the best cultural fit of this year’s QB choices due to his relationship with the Mannings.

A year ago, I shared a blog detailing a practice we do at St Johnsbury Academy.  Draft your own team.  You are the General Manager and every player on your roster makes up the list of available players who have declared for the draft.  Create your 15-20 player draft order. After you are done, invite your assistant coaches to do the same; but do not share your draft order with them prior.  Their draft order will tell you a lot about them and what is important to them.

They may go with best available, positional need, cultural fit or all of their position players.  It is also interesting to see how yours differs from theirs, and theirs from each others’.  If all of your coaches understand your culture and their values reflect yours, one should find little difference between all of the draft orders.  Once you and your staff have the draft completed, you may find the opportunity to discuss culture and values, as well as assess positional changes to ensure the best 11 are on the field.

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 richalercio@gmail.com and share http://www.olineskills.com with your colleagues and friends.

Thanks for your time!

Culture Trumps Talent

Last week I shared a saying in football “it is not the Xs & Os it’s the Jimmies and Joes.

This week I share another football saying, “culture trumps talent.”  2019-04-25 compass

That is not to say that a good culture can overcome poor talent, but it is most definitely true that poor culture can destroy a team with great individual talent.

Do your players and your team’s values, beliefs and attitudes reflect what is most important to you?  What are you doing to create a strong culture within your team? Our culture hinges on shared perspective around 4 key components:

* A shared understanding of the environment – “We know what we face”

* A shared vision of where we are going – “We know what we have to do”

* A shared set of organizational values – “We are in this together”

* A shared feeling of power – “We can do this. “

We layer lessons about individual character traits; Integrity, Loyalty, Trustworthiness, Selflessness, and others to inspire teammates, foster commitment, and reinforce interdependence.

While you are putting your schedules and practice plans together for summer OTAs, Mini Camp and Training Camp, be sure to include team building activities into your plan and make certain that your coaches are on the same page.

The plays, schemes, and techniques we teach our players will serve them well through the season but will soon be forgotten.  What you teach them about being part of a team and putting others above themselves will serve them for the rest of their lives.

A strong culture will make them champions on the field, and champions in life.

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 richalercio@gmail.com and share http://www.olineskills.com with your colleagues and friends.

Thanks for your time!

Jimmies & Joes…

There is an old saying in football, “it is not the Xs & Os, it’s the Jimmies and Joes”.  If your Jimmies & Joes are better than your opponents’, you’ll likely to win most games.

2019-04-18 Xs & Os vs Jim & Joe

That is why, over the past three months, I traveled to Bergen County NJ, Princeton NJ, Mystic CT, Windsor CT, Biddeford ME, and Orlando FL to attend clinics, conferences, and spring practices.  

In the NFL, you can draft better players.  In college football, you can recruit better players.  In high school, you have to coach the Jimmys and Joes who go to your school and you have to make them better than the Jimmys and Joes walking the halls of the schools on your schedule.  

The drills, techniques, and schemes we learned at Glazier and Nike Clinics, the USA Football Conference, and UNE practice will help us to make our players better.  We appreciate those coaches who were so willing to share what they do with us so that we can share it with our players and make them better Jimmys and Joes!

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 richalercio@gmail.com and share http://www.olineskills.com with your colleagues and friends.

Thanks for your time!

 

Minds Blown!

“You’ve blown our minds.  We have been old school blocking up front.  You have caused us to rethink everything. We are changing how we do things starting now.”

2019-04-07 Alercio Oline Clinic 4
Players and Coaches attending the 2019 Alercio OLine Clinic, St. Johnsbury, VT

This is what a fellow Vermont coach told me after the first hour of the inaugural Alercio OLine Clinic at St Johnsbury Academy.  He was not familiar with the concept of identifying leverage of the defender in relation to the ball, then determining the appropriate step, visual target, and strike points to execute a block.  

We shared these concepts with 47 players and a dozen coaches including our rivals from Lyndon Institute.  Although our two schools have competed against each other for over 100 years, on a Sunday in April, our players worked alongside their players, and our coaches worked with their coaches to make both of our teams better.  For just one day, we all played on the same team.

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 richalercio@gmail.com and share http://www.olineskills.com with your colleagues and friends.

Thanks for your time!