Cost Benefit Analysis & Resilience

As an Economics major in college, I learned to use cost-benefit analysis as a systematic process of evaluating the outcome of a decision by weighing its potential benefits compared to costs.  In business, those costs and benefits are most frequently expressed in monetary units.  In football, and particularly offense, the costs are the investment of time and attention, and the benefits are yards, touchdowns, and ultimately wins.  

Every postseason, I evaluate how many times we called a play, the mean, median, and mode of yards gained per play, and the efficiency of each play.  Efficiency is determined by the play earning 4+ yards, a first down, or a touchdown.  That determines the relative benefit of a play.  The cost is determined by how much time it takes to install or teach the play in meetings and how much time is allotted in practice to work on the techniques and schemes associated with a particular play.  Simply stated, plays that do not yield high averages, efficiencies, or touchdowns are not worth investing time in (particularly if the play is “expensive” costing us a great deal of coaching time.)

This past season we learned that we must evaluate an additional cost:  The investment of time into backup players.  We believe we invest equally in the mental, physical, and emotional development of all of our players in meetings and training sessions, but this season proved we have not invested adequate time to back-up players in practice.  The 2022 season was fraught with injuries at multiple positions forcing us to take a “next man up” approach every week.  The next man may not be as big, strong, fast, or skilled as the starter, but he must be equally prepared.  

In 2023, we need to be more resilient. We need to be able to “take a hit” to the team’s overall ability, yet bounce back and remain competitive. I plan to ensure we invest more time in practice for our backups to get repetitions, build proficiency, and ultimately resilience. Along the way, we’ll also focus on resilience as a character trait, noting that life may require us to bounce back from an unexpected “hit,” and in doing so, continue to help our student-athletes carry lessons from the field into their future.

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, and as always, thanks for your time! 

SAVE THE DATES!

The Alercio OLine Clinic dates for 2023 are set.  We will be returning to the Hun School of Princeton NJ on Sunday 23 April and St Johnsbury Academy VT on Sunday 11 June.  Both clinics will run from 9am – 1pm.  

There is a saying in football that games are won in the trenches.  The Alercio OLine Clinics have specialized in teaching techniques for the trenches for over 20 years.  We believe that the true “Skill Players” in football are the offensive linemen.  A skill, as defined by Wikipedia is the learned ability to act with determined results with good execution often within a given amount of time, energy, or both.  We teach the coordination and execution of learned physical tasks that allow linemen of any size to achieve both individual and team success within a given amount of time and energy.

The 2023 electronic brochure and registration form can be downloaded here: (OLINE CLINIC BROCHURE).  Team discounts are available and coaches are always welcome to attend at no cost.  As stated in last week’s blog. I plan to spend more time leading, teaching, and mentoring student-athletes.  The Alercio OLine Clinics afford me the opportunity to do that for hundreds of high school and middle school-age student-athletes every year.  I feel blessed and honored that so many players and coaches continue to attend my clinics.  

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, and as always, thanks for your time! 

Resolution or Review?

Many of us are familiar with the tradition of a “New Year’s Resolution.” A quick Google search indicates that more than 90% of resolutions in the U.S. are fitness or weight loss related, and less than 10% last more than 90 days (most in fact, last a month or less).

A close friend shared the notion of an annual review, rather than a resolution, and I’m intrigued by the idea. The review he shared comes from Shane Parish at the Farnum Street blog and encourages us to ask ourselves some questions as a guide to assessing aspects of our lives from the last year and using the assessment to make conscious decisions about things we want to add or reinforce in our daily lives, and things we should consider eliminating (or at least reducing). Some of Shane’s questions help us look at our day(s) from a different angle (If a film crew followed you all day, what would you want the crew to film? What would you definitely not want them to document?) The questions are thought-provoking and introspective.

Tim Ferriss, the author/owner/host of one of the most popular podcasts available, suggests conducting a review by making two columns: Positive and Negative, and then looking through your calendar (by week) and noting the people, activities, and events or commitments triggering peak positive or negative emotions, placing those items in its respective column in order to clarify the things we want more or less of in the New Year. Tim suggests reviewing the Positive column, identifying the 20% of things that brought the most joy or satisfaction, and planning more of those items into your annual calendar right now. Similarly, walling off or refusing the 20% most negative. More from Tim’s blog on Annual Reviews here: Tim Ferriss’ Past Year Review.  

So much of today’s marketing and media communications bombard us with messages of “the new (thing, service, product or practice)” that if we only add, will solve all our problems. Of course, as soon as we pay for and add that new item, we’re reminded of its looming obsolescence and how “version next” is really the answer…  However, the reviews proposed by Parrish and Ferris encourage us not to “add new,” but rather reinforce the goodness we already have, and consciously minimize the negatives.

When I think about my own review of 2022, I clearly want (and am actively planning) more time with family, more time leading, teaching, and mentoring student-athletes, and more personal time outdoors (I’m amazed by the energy and renewal I derive from skiing, hiking, and time in the sunshine!). I’m also looking for ways to minimize time inside behind my desk, time spent worrying about things outside my control, or contending with others whose negativity saps my energy.

What’s in your review for 2022, and what are your plans for ’23?

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, and as always, thanks for your time! 

New Year, New Lessons

I am honored to join an outstanding lineup of college and NFL coaches speaking at Championship Football Clinics Annual Offensive Line Clinic on 16 January (MLK Day) in Bergen County, NJ.  I will share the schemes and techniques used in our Screen Pass Options. While I have shared this presentation at the USA Football National Conference, Nike Coach of the Year Clinic, and Glazier Clinics in the past, I will do a deeper dive into the specific techniques used by our offensive linemen on the plays. It’s often said, “Football is a game of inches,” and I’m excited for the opportunity to cover the nuances giving offensive linemen advantages that can turn inches into yards.

As I have mentioned many times in previous blogs, the most remarkable thing about the coaching profession is the willingness coaches have to share their knowledge.  I have used the analogy that when two people meet who each have a penny and share their pennies with each other, they walk away still possessing only a single penny.  But when two people meet and share ideas, they each walk away with two ideas: each far richer for the experience.  

This clinic also affords me an opportunity to listen and learn from two of my favorite offensive line clinicians, Kyle Flood from the University of Texas, and Pat Flaherty formerly of the New York Giants and Jacksonville Jaguars.  I have learned much from these professionals over the last three decades and anxiously await hearing what they will share on Monday 16 January.  

For more clinic information regarding registration, speakers, topics, and location click on the Link here: Registration

On another note, it’s hard to believe it’s been six years and more than 275 posts on olineskills.com. I’d like to take the time to say thanks for coming along on the journey, engaging in dialogue and discussion, and affording me the opportunity to share with you the same way so many others have shared with me. I wish you all the best in 2023!

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, and as always, thanks for your time! 

A Holiday Wish…

May this Holiday season find you surrounded by an abundance of the Five Fs: faith, family, friends, food, and football.

I look forward to continuing our conversation in the New Year!

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, and as always, thanks for your time! 

Layers of Coaching

During the season of giving, sometimes the best gifts come at no cost.  They come in visits, phone calls, texts, emails, or in this case a poem. Gifts from the heart, filled as much with creativity as with gratitude.. 

This week I received a framed photo and poem from the mother of one of our players.  We did not win a championship this year.  No rings… No plaques…  No medals. None of the outward-facing things so often attributed to success in this game, but I am so wonderfully reminded of the intangible rewards coaches so often attribute to their love of the game and their role.

This poem, titled “Layers of Coaching“, by Karen Stark is 2022’s trophy.

From the preseason,

Conditioning, strengthening, developing,

Expecting sincere effort from all,

Establishing “Hilltopper” pride.

From the practices,

Running, maneuvering, repeating,

Requiring consistency in skills

Building the best possible team.

From the sidelines,

Motioning, supporting, communicating,

Providing constant feedback,

Seeking the best from each athlete.

From the locker room,

Reviewing, encouraging, re-evaluating,

Adjusting the play calls,

Tapping into players’ strengths.

From the top of the hill,

Chanting, embracing, unifying,

Swarming toward the field,

Developing a lifelong “brotherhood”.

From the depths of the soul,

Believing, worrying, reflecting,

Trusting the process,

Allowing the team to both fall and fly.

From the heart,

Shaping, loving, nurturing,

Coaching with unmatched passion,

Inspiring the future of football.

I’m in awe of the creativity and thoughtfulness Karen shared in her words. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to coach our players and to work alongside a fabulous staff. Karen’s “Layers” analogy holds true whether across the weeks of a season, or nearly four decades of coaching experience. Layers of experience… of games won and lost, lessons learned, teams, players, parents, staff… Most of all layers of gratitude. I remain extraordinarily thankful for the opportunity to be a coach. To lead, guide, and direct student-athletes, and pay forward the investments others made in me.

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, and as always, thanks for your time! 

Memories For A Lifetime

At our year-end banquet, we send our seniors out in style and hope to leave memories that last a lifetime.  My favorite part of our football banquet is when I invite our assistant coaches to the podium to recognize the seniors they had the privilege of coaching.  Each coach gets the honor of speaking on behalf of one or two of their seniors and presenting them with their senior gifts.  Each senior receives a replica helmet signed by every player and coach, the banner representing them that hung in our stadium during their Senior Day game, and a Christmas ornament with their name and number they can hang on their tree for many years to come. 

We trust the Coach’s words reinforce the positive impact players had on our program and leave them feeling good about their impact on our team, culture, and teammates. Further, we hope the mementos offer a frequent poignant reminder of the pride they felt being a part of something bigger than themselves.  

Forty years ago, at a very similar end-of-season banquet held in December 1982, I received a golden football player ornament with my name and number on it. For four decades, I have smiled while hanging that ornament on our tree. Almost instinctively,  my kids always knew to leave that one for daddy.  And each time, as I find the perfect spot on the tree, the memories of my time at Toms River North, the friendships forged in the locker room, hallways, and fields; the hard-fought victories earned under the lights, and the sense of pride in being a Mariner all come flooding back…  The years may come and go, but the memories last a lifetime.

Forty years from now, I hope former players across the nation (and perhaps the world) smile, remember, and hang their ornaments amidst a flood of positive emotions and pride in having been a Hilltopper.

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, and as always, thanks for your time! 

Recognition & Reward

Back at it after a week’s break.  I hope you and yours enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving. I know my family and I are so extraordinarily grateful for all the blessings we enjoy.

This weekend we will gather for our annual football team banquet.  We will recognize our seniors, letter winners, and all-conference players.  Then we will turn our focus on our superlatives.  While on the surface, it may appear we just recognize the recipients, most of whom are seniors moving on from our program. We are simultaneously laying the groundwork for the development of our returning players and the years to come.  

We incorporate one of the basic rules of psychology; rewarding the behaviors you want repeated.  Each reward is designed to encourage returning players to achieve peak performance and reinforce cohesion and commitment.  Communicating these behaviors that everyone needs to demonstrate helps the team to achieve success, not just the individual.   The following rewards provide an effective and uncomplicated means for reinforcing quality behaviors: Scout Team Player of the Year, Most Improved Player, Most Valuable Lineman, Most Valuable Ball Carrier, Most Valuable Player, Coaches’ Award, and Hilltopper Award.  While the first five are self-explanatory, the last two allow us to showcase those behaviors we most covet. The Coaches’ Award goes to the student-athlete we feel is one of the most coachable and selfless members of the team. The Hilltopper Award recognizes the student-athlete who we think most embodies the attributes of our culture while bringing energy, effort, and enthusiasm to every event.

Although not specifically called out during the banquet, it’s important to note we do not omit awards for scholastic achievement.  The National Football Foundation banquet later in the year honors the combined academic and athletic best of the best from schools throughout the state.  

The vision, values, commitment, and courage we cultivate directly reflect who we hope to be as both individuals and as a team. Recognizing and rewarding those who best represent the Hilltopper culture reinforces the very best of our aspirations on the field, on our campus, and in our community. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, when you reward the right behaviors, you guarantee repeat performance. 

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, and as always, thanks for your time! 

Looking Back, to Look Ahead…

In previous blogs, I’ve commented a few times on the relative size difference between the rearview mirror and the windshield, and how focusing on what’s ahead is often most important. That having been said, there is value in the occasional look in the rearview, as elements of the past readily inform the future.

Just as we study film after each game, I encourage the coaching staff and me to think about lessons learned over the course of the year. What did we do well? What can we do better? From Winter conditioning, through spring practice, summer OTAs, Camp, and through the season we recently concluded. Each phase of team building contributes to the whole.

There are elements of X’s and O’s, play calling, and scouting, as well as leading, training, and mentoring our players and staff. Assessing the last year’s efforts and experiences enables us to reinforce success and minimize (ideally eliminate) friction. While it is unlikely we’ll find identical circumstances in the coming year, there will be analogous situations and I am reminded of the maxim, “if history doesn’t repeat itself, it sure does rhyme.”

Before we turn to future tasks and begin building the Hilltopper team of 2023, we’ll take stock of the lessons we learned in 2022, and hopefully, they’ll help us sharpen the picture of all that lies ahead.  

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, and as always, thanks for your time! 

Happy Birthday!

Legacy and tradition underpin many aspects of teamwork. A few weeks ago we played (and won) the 117th playing of “The Game,” one of the longest-running high school rivalries in the Nation.

Today, November 10th, marks the 247th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. I have a few close friends and several former players who are Marines. It’s true there’s something special about the men and women of The Corps, their character, culture and traditions.

In celebrations worldwide, Marines will gather to share a meal and for dessert, a traditional cake. Tradition dictates the oldest Marine present gets the first piece, and he or she then passes on the piece to the youngest Marine present, symbolizing the passing on of knowledge, experience, and legacy. Last week I noted our tradition of senior players relaying their most memorable places on the field, and sharing their legacy with those who will follow.

In 2009, I was fortunate enough to participate in the Marine Corps’ Educators Workshop, traveling to Parris Island, SC., getting a taste of Marine Corps boot camp, participating in training, and learning firsthand about the Marine Corps mission of Making Marines, Winning Battles, and Developing Quality Citizens.

I’d like to think we’ve successfully patterned our program along the same lines, and as coaches, we make teammates, win games, and develop student-athletes who go on to become quality citizens in their own right.  We teach and encourage the same leadership traits and focus on concepts like service and interdependence.

Happy Birthday, Marines! Long live the Corps!

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, and as always, thanks for your time!