Pass Blocking (while quarantined)

In last week’s blog, we focused on Run blocking Steps, Visual Targets and Strike Points for offensive linemen in their home using a chair.  2020-04-09 Tools for Pass BlockingThis week, we will focus on Pass blocking and you will need a broom handle and the video camera in your phone.

Set up your phone’s video camera in front of you so that your entire body will be in view.  Face the camera and put the broom handle on your back as if you were to execute a barbell squat.  Stagger your feet as you would if you were a Right Guard or Right Tackle.  Left foot up and right foot back.

Next, execute a 3 step pass set to your right (kick-slide-brace) out and back at a 45-degree angle.  Return to your original spot then execute a pass set to your left (power-slide-brace) only moving inward.  Do not drop back.  The Kick Step pass set is to be used versus an outside rusher on dropback passes while the Power Step pass set is used versus a head-up or inside rusher.

Repeat the same drill with a Left Guard/Left Tackle Stance.  Right foot up and left foot back.  Kick-slide-brace left then power-slide-brace right.  Then review your video to confirm that your broom handle stayed parallel to the floor and parallel to the camera.

This drill keeps you square to the line of scrimmage on your pass sets.  Far too often, offensive linemen open their hips to the pass rusher, particularly versus the outside rusher.  This shortens the corner for the rusher and also opens up the path for an inside counter rush move.  Another coaching point is to see that your feet are always outside of your knees and your knees are outside of your hips.  Your legs should always look like a triangle.

Once you have confirmed your body positioning is correct, you can advance to linking the pass steps and sets together.  Do a kick-slide-brace into a power-slide-brace as if you were pass blocking an outside rusher who makes an inside counter rush move.  Then do a power-slide-brace to a kick-slide-brace.

The coaching point of this drill is to teach you to always step with the directional foot.  When you move to the right, you must step right foot first.  If the rusher transitions to the left, you must step with your left foot.  That keeps your legs in the shape of a triangle.  Add these pass sets to your run steps from last week to continue to work on and hone your OLine Skills.

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!

OLine Skills At Home

A close friend bought a book for my son’s high school graduation that I have begun to read during our time shelter-in-place:  “The Obstacle Is The Way,” by Ryan Holiday. We all face life-altering obstacles but must find ways to overcome them and become better as a result.

Over the next few weeks, I will share drills offensive linemen can do to work on their OLine Skills at home.  This same information will be released through USA Football’s Coach and Coordinator podcast.

This week we will focus on Run Steps, Visual Targets, and Strike Points.

You will need a chair and your phone’s video camera.  The chair back should be at a minimum height of 36 inches.  It would be helpful, (with Mom and Dad’s permission of course!) to put pieces of tape in the middle representing a defender’s2020-04-02 Chair as OLine Target sternum as well as right third and left third representing defender’s numbers.  Place tape on the top back of the chair as it is in the photo.  The chair posts represent the defender’s shoulders.

Turn the chair so that you are facing the back of it.  Put the camera to the side so that your entire body is in view (Feet too) and hit “record.”  Align yourself with the chair on your right shoulder to start.  Then execute the following steps with visual targets and strike points:

  1. Base Left Step (vertical), Visual Target on the near third of chair (Red tape), Strike Points of near Post and Middle (Silver tape).
  2. Reach Right Step (vertical with lateral displacement), Visual Target on the middle of the chair (Silver), Strike Points of thirds (Red)
  3. Angle Right Step (forward step at 45-degree angle), Visual Target on the far third of chair (Red), Strike Points of Middle (Silver) and far Post.
  4. Bucket Right Step (drop step at 45-degree angle), Visual Target on the near third of chair (Red), Strike Points of near Post and Middle (Silver).

Repeat with the chair aligned on your left shoulder taking Base Right, Reach Left, Angle Left and Bucket Left steps and same visual targets and strike points.

Coaching Points when you view the video of your drill work:

  1. Every step you take should land in a Heal-to-Toe relationship.  When you step with your Right foot, your right heel should land in alignment with your left toes, then your Left footstep should land aligned with your Right toes and so on throughout the block.  That keeps Knees over Toes through the block.
  2. On the first step, the elbows are cocked back bringing thumb knuckles to your chest.  If you were wearing shoulder pads, you would bring “Knuckles to Buckles”.  This keeps elbows at an acute angle and defends your chest from the defender’s strike.
  3. Contact with the chair must occur on the grounding of the Second Step with an outward and upward movement.  The chair should slide away from you with all 4 legs in contact with the floor then rock upward on its front legs lifting back legs off the floor.

Viewing your video reinforces the correct steps, targets, strikes, and leverage of all of your run blocks and allows you to self-correct.  This obstacle is the way for you to master your OLine Skills.

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!

Reach out…  Reconnect

“We human beings are social beings. We come into the world as a result of others’ actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities. For this reason, it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.” Dalai Lama XIV

While it is imperative that we exercise social distancing during these unprecedented times, it does not come naturally to us.  We, as humans, must connect.  Last weekend, I joined 4 of my best friends (friends of more than 40 years!) on a Group FaceTime call.  While we talked, the miles between Vermont, New Jersey, Virginia, 2020-03-26 Connecting Across 40 yrs & 1000MiNorth Carolina, and Florida disappeared and it was if they were sitting with me in my kitchen.  After 90 minutes of catching up on everything from our children’s accomplishments to our home projects, we ended the call grateful for our friendships, time together, and with plans to schedule the next one.

Find ways to be social.  Use this time as an opportunity to connect with someone with whom you have lost touch.  Check-in on someone who you know is alone in your family or in your neighborhood.  While the elderly are most threatened by this pandemic, they are also the most impacted by the epidemic of loneliness.

Reach out.  Reconnect.

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!

Seek The Good

It is difficult not feeling sorry for yourself these days.  Especially for those of us dealing with high school students.  Schools are closed, meals and health services are no longer accessible, friends are in self-quarantine, classes are online, sports seasons are canceled, proms and graduations are threatened.  These are difficult times.

But my concerns were put into perspective today when I was exiting our school’s publicly accessible fitness center.  An elderly couple I had never seen before was coming in.  I thought it odd that with all the social distancing they would enter an often crowed space, especially at their age.

So I stopped and asked, “how I could help them?”  The reply, “we were just hoping we could come in and get warm.”  We welcomed them into our lobby and gave each of them a hot cup of coffee.

Though we easily find ourselves consumed by the uncertainty around us, and may unfortunately only have the stressors of the day sensationalized and amplified by myriad channels, I was reminded today, of the importance of doing for others. Part of our teambuilding culture is to put the good of the team (quite literally the good of others) ahead of our own interests.

A welcoming smile, a warm lobby, and a hot cup of coffee in and of themselves may not be much, but we found a way to give others something to be grateful for amidst the stressors of the day. In moments such as these, the cacophony of a 24hr news cycle, staccato of social media feeds, and a world where toilet paper and milk disappear from supermarket shelves fade away and afford us the opportunity to give some time, some attention, and some relief to others.

As I say to my team quite often, (and you may have read a few times on this blog), “The hand that gives, gathers.” These are difficult times but be thankful for your many blessings and look for opportunities to help others be thankful for theirs.

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!

Alercio OLine Clinic Kickoff

Back on the road again this weekend.  I head down to the NYC/North Jersey Glazier Clinic at the Hanover Marriott for three presentations on Saturday beginning at 1:30. I will again present on our 4th & Go Offense, Compartmentalizing the Passing Game, and Compartmentalizing the Screen Game.  Again, I look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones as we share ideas well into the night.

From Glazier, I will head down to Media, PA, 2020-03-12 OlineClinicBrochure(Penncrest)and Penncrest High School for the first of three Alercio OLine Clinics this year.  I look forward to returning to the Philadelphia area where we hosted a clinic several years ago.

We will open the doors at noon for registration and will begin the clinic at 12:45.  The clinic will start with an indoor session where we teach the stance, steps, visual targets and strike points they will need for the technical work they do on the turf when we head outside.

While outside, we will teach and train technical aspects of a variety of run blocks, pass blocks, and pulling technique.  We will also teach the tactical usage of each block within various Man, Zone and Gap run and pass blocking schemes.  The clinic will end at 5pm with hopes that all players in attendance will continue to train the techniques and schemes they learned at the Alercio OLine Clinic.

Players wishing to avoid the Walk-up registration rate can still register by scanning and sending me a completed registration form at richalercio@gmail.com followed by payment through Venmo @RichAlercio. Coaches, as always, may attend for free and parents are invited to stay as well.

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!

Click here for your 2020 “Alercio OLine Clinic Brochure.

Keep It Simple…

Football is a complex game often made more 2020-03-05 Rich at Nike New England2complicated by coaches trying to prove how brilliant they are.  But the key to prolonged success in football is keeping it simple so the players know it almost as well as the coaches.  One of the greatest compliments I received was from Mike Kuchar, Co-founder and Senior Editor of XandOlabs.com, when he said, “the clarity of your teaching simplifies the game tremendously.”

Two of my three clinic sessions at last weekend’s New England Nike Coach of the Year Clinic were about simplifying the game.  I shared how we do this in our passing and screen game by compartmentalizing receiver routes and quarterback reads.  In the last session, I shared our always popular “4th & Go Offense.”  I look forward to working with the dozens of coaches who have reached out by email to continue the discussion and trust they will be willing to share something with us.

A personal highlight happened on the first night of the clinic soon after I arrived.  I went into the Marriott Member Lounge to grab dinner before my first presentation.  I was eating alone until Kirk Ferentz, Head Football Coach at the University of Iowa, asked me to join his staff for dinner.  I never met the man before, but it became abundantly clear why he has been so successful.  I wound up sitting next to QB Coach and Offensive Coordinator, Ken O’Keene, (who I had previously met when we were both Division 3 football coaches.)  The night ended with them inviting me out to Iowa during Spring Ball.  While I do not think I will make the trip this year, I will most certainly maintain contact and look forward to a future opportunity.  In the meantime, our focus turns to keeping it simple for our players and coaches as we begin Spring practices in St Johnsbury this week.

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!

Click here for your 2020 “Alercio OLine Clinic Brochure.”

Road Trip!

Lots of travel this week as I had forecast in last week’s blog… The Atlantic City Glazier Clinic was well worth the 7-hour drive.  I particularly enjoyed listening to Kyle Schmitt, Head Coach Archbishop Spaulding HS in Maryland.  Great sessions on Read Triple, RPOs (Run Pass Options), and Tempo out of the Spread.  It was also great to catch up with former players and long-time coaching friends.

The 13-hour drive to Clemson did not disappoint either.  Magnificent facilities, great branding all over campus and tremendous school spirit.  2020-02-27 Winning ProgramsThere was a tiger paw everywhere you looked on campus and in town and everyone wore Clemson Tiger apparel.  The football stadium and facility were a highlight.  Championship rings and trophy displays were amazing. I was struck by scope, scale, and complexity of the football operations and culture, but then realized the same teambuilding process we employ in northern Vermont (albeit at a much smaller scale) happens there in Clemson, South Carolina.

Needing to be back in the northeast for the Meeting of the Minds at Western Connecticut, I flew back from Clemson.  I thank Joe Loth for the invitation to attend and opportunity to speak about our Screen Pass Options, the most popular topic I have shared in more than two decades speaking at clinics.  The day was packed with information to help me and our staff stay current with trends in football.  The discussion topics included:  Operations, Play Action Pass, RB Screens, Plays vs 4i fronts, RedZone Packages, and Run Pass Options.  The last couple of hours were spent in breakout sessions where I joined the OLine coaches.  We had an in-depth discussion about the nuances of Midzone, Inside Zone and Duo.

Now, I am headed to the New England Nike Coach of the Year Clinic where I will be presenting on the following topics:

  • Thu 7:15pm:  Compartmentalizing your Passing Game.
  • Thu 8:45pm:  Compartmentalizing your Screen Game
  • Fri 8:30am:   4th & Go No Punt Team

Our 4th and Go philosophy has also been extremely popular on the clinic circuit.  In an 11 game 2019 season, we only punted 12 times with 0 return yards.  We converted 63% of our 4th down.

I hope to see you at Nike this weekend, NYC Glazier in 2 weeks or one of my OLine Clinics.   Click here for your 2020 “Alercio OLine Clinic Brochure.”

  • Malvern Prep (PA)                  March 15
  • St Johnsbury Academy (VT)  March 29
  • The Hun School April 5 (NJ)   April 5

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!