Teams, Interdependence, & Life Long Friendships

Good relationships build teams and teams build good relationships.  That holds true in sports, business, friendship, and marriage.

Four and a half decades of teamwork, commitment, friendship, and interdependence.
#StrongerTogether #AllForOne

During our Spring practices, our players have become better blockers, tacklers, runners, passers, and receivers; but more importantly, they have come together as a team.  Our staff has fostered a collaborative team setting and allowed the transfer of skills from more experienced players to less experienced ones.  The teamwork we have been intentionally cultivating allows everyone involved to help each other, and the more they help each other the stronger their bonds become.  

The goal is that these relationships will allow them to lean on each other and pick each other up during a high school football season 6 months from now.  Our teams are most successful when they understand their interdependence, commitment, and selflessness yield strength, resilience, and momentum far greater than the sum of its parts. As coaches, we see these characteristics reflected in short-term successes on Friday nights in the fall. But if we are truly successful in our mission of returning to our communities someone who is a little better than they were when we got them, these relationships and the support for fellow teammates will last far beyond football seasons and high school years.

This past weekend, 45 years after we were teammates, dozens of us traveled hundreds of miles to help one of our “brothers” in a time of need. Having shared smaller adversities then, and fought through the inevitable adult life challenges later, we find ourselves stronger than might have ever expected. Now, as we realized then, we are always stronger together, than we could ever be by ourselves alone. When one has a load too heavy to bear, we rally together to take the strain, ease some of the pain, and help illuminate the way ahead.

I’m in awe of the bonds we formed as young men, and even prouder these bonds forged on playing fields so long ago, find ways to answer the call across miles and decades.  45 years from now, I will no longer be on this Earth; but I hope to look down from heaven to see those I’ve coached… young men like those Hilltoppers who came together here last week, gather for each other in times of need just as my teammates, my friends, my brothers have done and will continue to do.    

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! 

Spring Forward… With Purpose

We enter our Spring practices embracing the idiomatic expression “Less is More.”  Such a phrase is a confusing concept to wrap your head around.  How can less of anything be more?  I know the term is often used in architecture and interior design but that’s not my specialty, nor do I really understand the nuances of that arena.   

However, as it relates to football, I understand that things of a smaller quantity can be of higher quality.  In other words, we would rather excel at 3 things than just be ok at 10.  For our 6 spring practices spread over this week and next, we will focus solely on excellence in the essential aspects of the game.  There is no time to spend on superfluous things while we establish the foundations and patterns underpinning our efforts through the Summer and into the Fall.  

Readers may recall the 14 leadership traits we worked on over the course of 14 weeks last season. This week and next, we’ll also focus on core fundamentals of Honor, Courage, and Commitment.

Honor: Do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason.

Courage: Not the absence of fear, but the recognition and acknowledgment of fear, and the decisions to act in spite of very real and rational fear.

And Commitment: a conscious effort to put the good of the team, and the team’s collective goals above my own.

In doing so, we’ll begin to lay (and in some cases reinforce) the foundations of individual character and our collective culture right alongside the fundamentals of blocking and tackling.

Brilliance in the basics.

The basics of the game, and the basics of who we want to be as a team.

Less, actually can be more.

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! 

Share & Learn

Two men meet, they each have one penny, they exchange pennies, each goes their separate way only possessing one penny.  

Two men meet, they each have an idea, they exchange ideas, each goes their separate way now possessing two ideas, the one they shared and the one that was shared with them.  

Join Coach Alercio at the Big New England Football Clinic, March 4th & 5th in Newport RI.

I have often said that one of the greatest things about the football coaching profession is the willingness of coaches to share their ideas with others.  I am honored with the opportunity to share some ideas with fellow coaches at the Big New England Football Clinic March 4-5 in Newport, Rhode Island.  

My first session, Adding Screen Pass Options to Your Offense, is Saturday, March 5 at 8:00am.  It is followed with a 9:10am session on 4th & Go Offense, 4th Down is not for Punting.  

The greatest reward in sharing these ideas is hearing the stories of success they have helped others achieve.  While recently attending a clinic in Boston, I was approached by a coach from Cape Elizabeth HS in Maine who informed me that they incorporated our 4th & Go offense this past season helping them win a state championship.  Later that day, I was stopped by coaches from Woodstock Academy in CT who shared that they too implemented our 4th & Go philosophy on their way to a league championship.  

I look forward to seeing old friends, making new ones, sharing ideas, and learning from others at the Big New England Football Clinic.   https://www.bignewenglandfootballclinic.com/  

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! 

Cheers!

“Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got…

Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot.” 

I am sure when Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart-Angelo wrote those lines 40 years ago they were not referencing high school student-athletes and their teachers and coaches navigating a global pandemic, but it is more applicable now than ever before.

This is our last week of winter workouts and staff meetings.  When the clock strikes noon on Friday, we will begin Winter break.  A well-deserved break and opportunity to decompress and consider the refresh and rebirth Spring will soon bring us.  There will be no scheduled workouts, no meetings, and I pray that their teachers give no homework.  The goal of a break is to relax so students and staff can return recharged and refocused.  

We understand that our athletes will not suffer significant drops in strength, power, body mass, aerobic capacity, or stamina with a one-week break, but we do trust it will do wonders for their mental health.  We want them to come back rested, happy, stressless, and energetic because we begin Spring practices the day we return to school. 

How do you plan to rest, refocus, and recharge? I sincerely hope you will be as thoughtful in the pursuit of rest and recovery as you are in the pursuit of your goals. It’s what we aspire to for our players, and certainly for our coaches and staff.

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 Special Set of Skills…

What I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career…

Download the Oline Clinic Brochure Today

No not Liam Neeson’s skills, OLine Skills.   Those skills have been taught to hundreds of players over a 35-year career leading to numerous championships, national rankings, and records set.  They have also been shared with over 5,000 players and hundreds of coaches at my annual Alercio OLine Clinics. Read some of their endorsements below:  

“The clarity of your teaching simplifies the game tremendously.”   

Mike Kuchar. Co-Founder X&O Labs

“Rich Alercio, a guru of offensive line play in the Northeastern part of the country”

American Football Monthly, July 2008

“Rich Alercio is the best clinician in the country” 

John Fiore, Montclair HS NJ.  NJFCA Past-President

“There is not a more knowledgeable coach of offensive line play than Coach Alercio.”

Frank Holmes, Delran HS NJ

I look forward to sharing those skills with players and coaches on April 24 at the Hun School of Princeton NJ and on June 12 at St Johnsbury Academy VT.  To read more testimonials and to access a brochure, visit https://olineskills.com/

2022 Alercio O-Line Clinics!

Dates and locations are set for the 2022 Alercio OLine Clinics.  The Hun School of Princeton will host our New Jersey Clinic on Sunday, April 24 and St Johnsbury Academy will be the site of our Vermont Clinic on Sunday, June 12.

Come Join Coach Alercio & Learn His Techniques In The Trenches at the 2022 Alercio O-Line Clinics!

For over 20 years we have taught the coordination and execution of learned physical tasks that allow linemen of any size to achieve both individual and team success.  We believe that offensive linemen are the true “Skill Players” in football.  Most healthy kids are able to run, throw, catch and tackle at a very early age, but it takes years of training to hone the skills necessary to be successful at run and pass blocking in the trenches. 

Attendees will be taught 2 & 3-Point stances, along with the steps, visual targets, and strike points for a variety of 1-on-1 blocks, double teams, combo blocks and pass blocking.  They will learn several Pulling techniques and a multitude of blocking schemes including Gap, Zone, and Man.

Now in my 5th decade of coaching offensive line, garnered with endorsements from X&O Labs, American Football Monthly, and scores of coaches throughout the Northeast, I can say with great confidence that coaches and players will walk away with a greater appreciation for the position and an improved skill set.  

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!  

Jack Of All Trades?

The term “Jack of All Trades, Master of None” refers to a person who is passably adept at many skills but is not outstanding in any of them.  The full phrase originally used by Robert Greene to describe William Shakespeare was “a jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.”

Jack Of All Football Trades?

As we ended last week’s staff meeting, I gave our coaching staff a homework assignment in preparation for this week’s meeting: What three skills do your defensive position players (Defensive linemen, Edge players, Linebackers, and Defensive backs) have to master for them and ultimately us to be successful on the field?   We cannot be just masters of one skill and if we attempt to teach them everything in six Spring Practices, they will have mastered none. 

Applying this idiom to our practice planning meeting allows us to narrow our focus to only those skills most necessary to the position and the drills that allow our players to master them through repetition.  In a nutshell, you must realize as a coach that you cannot teach everybody everything.

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! 

Winter Meetings & Preparations Continue

In its simplest form, football is a game of blocking and tackling.  In week two of our Winter Staff Meetings, we focus on the latter.  We will do an evaluation of all generic (non-position specific) drills we teach our players on defense.  We always want our drill work to translate to the field so we first identify all the situations a player must analyze on a given play and the questions he must determine answers to in a fraction of a second.

1. Where is the ball?  Drills for pursuit, tracking a ball carrier, and maintaining leverage.

2. Do I have to contend with blockers? Drills for both block destruction and block avoidance.

3. Do I have help?  Drills for 1v1 open-field tackling, 2v1 Vise tackling with a teammate, and 1v1 Vise Tackling using the sideline.

4. What is the ball carrier’s Size and Speed?  Drills for Surface shoulder tackling as well as Rugby shoulder tackling.  

5.  Is the ball secure?  Drills for stripping the ball and recovering the ball. 

6.  Is the ball carrier defenseless?  This is a relatively new question as the focus of the game has shifted so favorably in protecting defenseless players.  For example, a QB in the pocket, a RB who just received a pitch or a WR who just caught a pass.  

For the purposes of this blog, the specific drills we choose to incorporate into our Spring practices are not nearly as important as answering these six questions and the implementation of any drills allowing our players to answer questions on the field. At its core, football is a time-competitive game of decisions. The coaches and players who make the best decisions given time constraints, win.

As coaches, we expect players to make decisions and execute plays; but they must be properly trained to do so.  When discussing the value of training, the Navy SEALs mantra reminds us, “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training.” 

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!  

Winter Meetings & Preparations

This week begins our football staff’s Winter weekly meetings in preparation for Spring practices in March.  While everyone on the staff is eager to talk X’s & O’s, meeting one focuses on the non-football-specific drills used during Spring practices: Dynamic Warm-up, Movement Training, Plyometrics, Sprint Mechanics, Conditioning Games, and Static Stretching.  

Doing an annual audit of these categories is equally important as auditing our offense, defense, and special teams.  We’ll certainly get to those elements in due time, but our “continuous process improvement” or “CPI” efforts need to take a holistic view of the program. Reviews help us stay current with newer trends in athletic performance training, implementing them in our practices and removing or replacing outdated elements.  These drills are critically important in creating a safer athletic environment and minimizing injuries, especially non-contact injuries.  We’ve found these exercises create a more efficient athlete, and the diversity of activities also maintains interest and motivation.  Not every athlete is going to have a 40-yard dash that starts with a 4, nor do they need to.  We emphasize training our athletes’ ability to accelerate, decelerate and change direction more efficiently.  Think of the Shuttle Run, also known as a Pro Agility or a 5-10-5.  That is a drill where we want all of our starters, regardless of position, to have a time that begins with a 4.  

Over the years we have found a player’s Shuttle Run score is a much stronger indicator of athletic ability and pre-determinant of on-field success than the 40-yard dash.  The Shuttle puts demands on the body at a neuromuscular level we cannot duplicate with linear sprints.  The other point of emphasis is coaching techniques in warm-up and stretch with the same attention to detail we do in our football-specific drills.  Standards are standards, and if we expect our athletes to meet them in large endeavors, we need to ensure they meet small ones as well. For example, we coach and hold our athletes accountable to only change direction with their lower legs and feet, and NEVER permit them to touch the ground or cone with their hand while changing direction.  (We wouldn’t expect an athlete to put their hand down while changing direction on the field, so do not do it in the drill… We want our athletes to practice the way we expect to play!)

Next week, we will turn our focus to defense and the drills we use to make our players better on that side of the ball.

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!  

Athletic Performance Training Starts the New Year!

The first order of business for every new year is the implementation of the athletic performance training program.   When our players return to school next week, all those not playing a winter sport are expected to train Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays with our athletic performance coach.  

The philosophy of our program is that athletes train movements, not muscles.  We do not break up our workouts into Legs, Chest & Tris, Back & Bis.  We train the entire body at every workout with multi-joint ground-based movements, core stabilizers, squat derivations, hip hinges, vertical or horizontal presses, and vertical or horizontal pulls.

We start with ground-based multi-joint movements: Snatch, Cleans, or Jerks.  Because of the complexity of the Snatch, we modify it by using a 1-arm Dumbbell Snatch.  We superset each of those Olympic lifts with a core stabilization exercise such as planks, dead-bugs, bird-dogs, Paloff presses, etc.  

In our next lifting block, we superset a squat movement (back or front squat, hex-bar deadlift, forward, backward, or walking lunges, Bulgarian split squats, etc) with a vertical or horizontal press (barbell or dumbbell bench, incline or push press). 

Our last lifting block is a hip hinge lift (barbell deadlift, 1-leg or 2-leg Romanian deadlifts) coupled with a vertical or horizontal pull (pull-ups, chin-ups, barbell, or dumbbell rows). 

We encourage our players to do 30 minutes of cardio on Tuesdays and a sprint workout on Thursdays.  All of their workouts are in an app called Train Heroic where they can record their weights, reps, times, and other information pertinent to their training so that we can track their progress through the winter months.

We want to be sure the training our players are doing translates to increased athletic performance on the field and not just to them looking better in the mirror. While there are obvious benefits to training in the off-season, perhaps the best one of all is getting those players who are not on a Winter team back together with their “brothers” and giving them something positive to do after a long Christmas break.

Speaking of returning after Christmas Break, it was five years and nearly 230 blog posts ago (around New Year’s 2017) that we started Olineskills.com. Whether you’re new to the site or have been along for the entire ride, I wanted to say thank you for the opportunity to entertain conversations about the game I love and have dedicated more than 40 years to playing and coaching. I look forward to all 2022 brings to us, and hope you and yours enjoyed the Holidays, and are excited about the New Year, new teams, new challenges, and new victories!

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!