Coaching is Coaching…

Coaching is Coaching

You’ve heard the saying before and it is true.  Coaching is coaching.  If you can coach, you can coach at any level.  I have had the good fortune of being invited to join training camp as a “visiting coach” with an NFL team when I was in between jobs, and I have had the pleasure of coaching my youngest son’s 5th & 6th grade flag football team.  I also coached my middle son’s padded flag team.  I have been an assistant, coordinator, and head coach at the high school level; and I have been a graduate assistant, assistant, coordinator, and head coach at the college level.  I have worked at both scholarship and non-scholarship schools.

I have worked with great coaches and below average coaches at every one of those levels.  Yes, there were a few coaches on that NFL team that were just off the charts in their ability to coach, but I worked with high school coaches who could have been very successful college coaches, and college coaches who could have been successful in the NFL.  The biggest difference I have found is in how much time you want or are able to commit.  As you know, the sun rises early and settles late during the summer months.  Every day of that NFL training camp, the staff reported before the sun came up and departed long after it had set.  We ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the training facility.  It was great as a visiting coach, but sure would be tough on a family.  The life of a college coach is extremely time consuming as well, even more so when you add recruiting across multiple states into the mix.

Over the past 30 years, I would say that I had the most fun back in 1991, as a part-time assistant at East Stroudsburg University while working 2 other jobs, living with 2 other coaches, barely able to pay the electric bill, but learning and coaching football every day.   But I have never been happier than I am now as an Assistant Athletic Director and Head Football Coach at St Johnsbury Academy in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont coaching 2 of my 3 sons.  We all dream about coaching in the “big time” but make the big time where you are.

Over the next three weeks, I plan to share some thoughts about how I make my current role “the big time,” to me. I hope after 30 years of coaching I can share some of the lessons learned and help you avoid some of the obstacles I encountered along the way. I don’t presume to have all the answers, but just as my mentors shared their lessons with me and helped me grow as a coach, parent, and person, I’d like to reinforce their efforts and share some thoughts with you. Hopefully, together we can explore ways to maximize the best the coaching profession has to offer. I look forward to continuing the conversation.

Contact Coach Rich Alercio at


Offensive Line… 2 or 3 Point Stance?

2-point or 3-point?

2 and 3pt stance

In the spring of 2004, after hosting the 3rd annual Alercio OLine Clinic with over 700 players and coaches in attendance, I was contacted by K.C. Keeler, who at the time was the head football coach at the University of Delaware.  Coach Keeler and his offensive line coach, Kyle Flood, invited me down to Delaware to discuss what had made my clinics so popular.

The Blue Hens had just won the 2003 I-AA National Championship and both Coach Keeler and Coach Flood were well known in the northeast as offensive innovators.  I knew a trip to Newark would be a great opportunity for me to learn.  Having watched their national championship game on ESPN in December, I was struck by something almost unheard of 15 years ago.  They played the entire game with their offensive linemen in 2-point stances.

After sharing the details of my clinic with them, they made themselves and their video available to me.  I watched over and over as they successfully ran Power in short yardage and goal line situations with their linemen in 2-point stances.  I was sold.

The 2-point stance has allowed our players to look to the sideline for plays in our no-huddle system.  It makes it easier for them to recognize fronts and communicate blocking schemes.  Pass sets, jump sets, pulls, combos and double teams are all easier to execute from a 2-point stance.

If you are an option team who is 90% downhill run blocking in the sagittal plane, I would suggest you keep your linemen in 3-point stances.  If not, I would strongly suggest you consider getting your big guys’ hands off the ground!

Coach Rich Alercio is available to assist with one on one, small group, or large audience presentations. For more than 20 years, Coach Alercio has led, taught, coached and mentored student athletes and coaches across the high school, college, and professional levels of football.

Rich’s National level presentations for clinics like Nike and Glazier, have earned him acclaim and praise for his offensive innovations as a strategist and play caller, and his one on one “techniques in the trenches” offensive line coaching has improved the tactics, techniques and procedures of more than 10,000 Offensive Linemen over nearly 20 years.

Contact Coach Rich Alercio at

Rich Alercio’s OLine Clinic Recap

More than 200 offensive lineman representing over 40 high schools in 2 states along with dozens of their coaches made the annual pilgrimage to the 16th Alercio OLine Clinic on Sunday, March 26.

We spent 4 hours at the Hun School of Princeton learning and drilling 2 & 3-pt stances, 5 Run Steps, 2 Pass Steps, Run & Pass Punches, Targets and Strike Points, Drive Blocks, Down Blocks, Jump Sets, 4 Pulling Techniques, Combination Blocks, Double Teams, Pass Sets, 3 Run Blocking Schemes (Man, Zone & Gap) and Slide Protection.

Players and coaches both enjoyed the day, the team building, camaraderie and a chance to learn new techniques and improve skills.

If you’d like more info on the clinic, techniques, or how you could have Coach Rich Alercio teach his “Techniques for the Trenches” clinic at your school, please email Coach Alercio

Check out some of the participants below:


1-Manalapan, Cedar Grove, Becton
2- Toms River North, Steinert, Immaculata
3-Manchester, KIPP NYC, Hudson Catholic, Princeton
4-Holy Cross, Delran, Central Regional, Ewing
5-Absegami, Bridgewater, Westfiled, South Hunterdon
9-Montclair, Hamilton West, Manasquan, Old Bridge, Ocean City, Pope John Paul II
8-Paulsboro, Montgomery, Belleville, Columbia, Nottingham
7-Shabazz, Rahway, Manville, Somerville
6-Parsippany, Washington Twp, Bloomfield

Why Young Coaches Should Think Twice Before Leaving for a Promotion…

St. Johnsbury (Vt.) head coach Rich Alercio remembers receiving the same advice years ago that many young coaches still hear today: “To move up the ladder, coaches always need to keep an eye on their next step up…”  (or should they???)

Alercio heard that coaches should seek a new position every two-to-three years. He took the advice, leaving a job where he was comfortable—but finding his new role unfulfilling, even though it came with the allure of slightly more money and great responsibility.

It was a decision that Alercio regrets, and one that he hopes today’s young coaches can learn from.

“If you find a good job, where you like it, you’re learning and growing, stay there,” Alercio said, during an appearance on the USA Football Coach and the Coordinator podcast.

Though Alercio’s career eventually got back on track, he’s quick to encourage young coaches to think twice about leaving a good situation, particularly if the current environment promotes a healthy work-life balance.

“It’s a heck of a lot easier balancing life, family and happiness when you have a good job and you stick with it,” he said.

To listen to Alercio’s full interview on the USA Football Coach and the Coordinator podcast with Keith Grabowski, click here: Coach Rich Alercio on “The Coach & Coordinator Podcast”

“Innovations for Any Offense” eClinic- 

Live today March 20th, check out Coach Alercio’s eclinic on Innovations for any Offense

Click here: Coach Rich Alercio’s Glazier eClinic 


Don’t Miss The 16th Alercio OLine Clinic 

Sunday, March 26th 2017
Download your brochure:

OLine Clinic Brochure



Building an Offensive Line: Offseason Mental Conditioning

Coach Rich Alercio believes in coaching the offensive line as the head coach.


Coaching the OLine is something Coach Alercio has done as an assistant, as a coordinator, and head coach. He attributes offensive success to the five interior players. Coach Alercio also believes that the group must work nearly year-round to develop the communication and chemistry that they need for game day excellence.

To do this, Alercio has developed an offseason, offensive line mental conditioning program. For Alercio, this breaks down into three areas: footwork, fit, and communication.

Alercio began utilizing this system because he found that there was little continuity when the player has five months off before they perform their skills again.

“There’s no carryover,” Alercio said.  “The player will think, ‘I remember we did something like this,’ but it doesn’t have the effect of doing it with regularity.”

The setup of these sessions is relatively simple, and the linemen can do it in a relatively small space using chairs as the defense.

Alercio gives the center the responsibility of setting these sessions up and moving the rest of the unit through.

The center will be responsible for changing the fronts and always makes the first call. The other linemen work on their communication and on cadence. They will step to their assignments.

This does not have to be a full speed drill. The emphasis is on the communication and mental work of assignment, correct steps, and fit to where the block belongs.

Alercio offered these tips for a successful mental conditioning session:

Give the center something to work off of. This could be a script or simply a list of fronts and defenses to work against a single concept.  After performing a set number of reps each way, the center will have the unit move the chairs. For example, they should work against four down front, then a three down front. The shade and 3 technique can be varied on each side, or linebacker alignments can be varied as well. Communication is the key. The older players should ensure that the younger players are being coached. Teaching a concept helps solidify understanding for both players.

Alercio feels that this is a good bridge from the beginning of the offseason to the spring.  Following the spring, the coaches are allowed to do more work with the players, and this carries into the summer.

The work then begins to become more physical, but a solid foundation of mental understanding has been established.

Read the original Offseason Mental Conditioning Post at USAFootball: Click Here!

Don’t Miss The 16th Alercio OLine Clinic March 26th 2017.
Download your brochure:
OLine Clinic Brochureoline-clinic-cover-shot


Rich Alercio on USA

Coach Rich Alercio was recently featured in articles on USA

Check  out the articles:

Rich Alercio is confident in his run-pass option (RPO) pin and pull scheme no matter what defense he’s facing. The head coach of St. Johnsbury Academy (Vt.) recently joined the USA Football Coach and Coordinator podcast, where he broke down why he thinks the play is a nightmare to defend. Read the full article: Pin & Pull on usafootball


Get the Pin & Pull details you need to run this unstoppable offense! Click here: PIN & PULL on Coach’s Edge Marketplace

Install and call it.  5 star review 🏈🏈🏈🏈🏈.  Learn the details of the pin and pull concept packaged with 2 RPO companions. The ultimate Coaches Coach.  You’ll get the installation, diagrams, practice drills and a video reference tool that you can use all season long.

A Contrarian View on a Football Coach’s Ladder to Success

St Johnsbury Academy Head Coach Rich Alercio talks about why the most common advicecoaches-mentoring for building a coaching career may not be the best…

Read the full article here: Think Twice!

The grass may not always be greener…

Contact Coach Rich Alercio at:

Don’t Miss The 16th Alercio OLine Clinic March 26th 2017.

Download your brochure:

OLine Clinic Brochure


Pin & Pull and The Run Pass Option

I recently did a Podcast on the Coach and Coordinator Show with Keith Grabowski.  Following great response from PodCast listeners, Keith invited me to do a F.A.S.T. Clinic Podcast (Focused Attack Strategies & Tactics) powered by Coaches Edge Technologies available in February. The topic is our Pin & Pull concept and the Run Pass Option (RPO) off of it. I’ll be sure to post updates as soon as they are available.  The following is an article relevant the clinic, and one I hope will whet your appetite for more.

An age-old concept run in a shotgun spread offense, our Pin & Pull scheme is a knock off of the old “Packer Sweep” and the Wing T “Buck Sweep.”  But instead of just running it to the Left or Right Halfback we call it to our Running Back (B), Quarterback (Q), Flankerback (Z) and Slotback (A).  And when we call it to the Quarterback we incorporate an RPO (Run Pass Option).  This allows us to show defenses multiple play looks with one easy to teach and learn line scheme.  We also incorporate a pre-snap pass option on the backside of all of our Pin & Pull plays.  A single wide receiver on the backside has an option route of a Slant, Hitch, or Fade while multiple backside receivers run Bubble or Smoke Screen. Simple repetitive roles and responsibilities for our offensive players translate into multiple combinations and confusion for the defense.



We incorporate Zone and Man schemes in our offense and have found the Pin & Pull Gap scheme is easiest to teach to our players and they relay it is easiest for them to learn.  Every offensive lineman has the same rule:  If you have a defensive lineman in your backside gap, block him (Pin).  If not, Pull.  For those linemen who are pinning, it does not matter if the defender is on you, in your backside gap or on an adjacent offensive lineman.  We incorporate the same steps, visual targets, and strike points.  If we are running Pin & Pull to the Right, all Pinners will take a Bucket step with their left foot (backside foot).  The visual target is the near pec (or near number), and the strike points are the near shoulder (right hand) and sternum (left hand). This allows us to open our hips to the defender and screen him from his pursuit to the playside.  Pullers will step with their right foot (playside foot).  Playside pullers are looking to get outside.  Backside pullers must eyeball Inside Linebackers for penetration on split reads on their way to the outside.  In teaching our pullers to make contact with linebackers in space, we use the same terms we teach for openfield tackling: Run to, and Buzz.  At the college level, we used to throw inside shoulder to outside leg with a cut and roll technique to see the offensive lineman did not whiff (miss) in space versus an often more athletic second level defender.  At the high school level, we buzz our feet to breakdown in space.  For contact, the visual target is the sternum and the strike points are the pecs.

Unlike most RPOs where the defender being read is left unblocked, we block everyone in our QB Pin & Pull but include the RPO to take advantage of a defender who leaves his coverage responsibility for run support.quads-y-over-rpo We prefer using the Pin & Pull scheme for our RPOs for two reasons: 1) we do not have to tweak the scheme in any way for the RPO and 2) the blocking scheme limits risk of an ineligible man downfield on the pass.  With linemen either blocking on the Line of Scrimmage or Pulling to the outside, the QB has ample time to make the throw with no concern of having a lineman downfield.

We use a variety of 1, 2, and 3 man route concepts with our QB Pin & Pull RPO, but our favorite is our 2-man Fade-Slide out of an unbalanced Y Over formation with a pre-snap option route on the backside.  The option route gives us a pre-snap option if defenses overload to the unbalanced Y Over.  The post snap read starts with the overhang player (Outside Linebacker or Strong Safety).  If he abandons his coverage responsibility for run support, we throw the Slide route to our Slot receiver.  If the Corner squats on the Slide route, we have the ability to throw the Fade.  When the overhang player stays in coverage, the QB runs the ball in the alley.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this discussion of the Pin & Pull and RPO strategy we’ve employed to such success. I encourage you to listen to my interview on  Coach and Coordinator Show, and to bring your linemen to the Coach Alercio OLine Clinic at the Hun School this coming March!