The Score Takes Care of Itself

Alercio OLine Clinic Brochure

Legendary coach Bill Walsh had a saying, a philosophy, “the score takes care of itself”.  As you have read in earlier blogs, we embrace a philosophy that “games are not won on weekends in the Fall”.  Those players and coaches who attend Alercio OLine Clinics months before they will ever play a game truly embrace these philosophies.

I am always impressed with the hundreds of players and scores of coaches who travel far and wide to brave the weather on a field rimmed with mounds of snow as we usually host our clinics in March.  The forecast for this year’s New Jersey  Clinic at the Hun School of Princeton is 78 and Sunny.  A far cry from what we are accustomed to.  

As Spring shakes off winter’s cold renewing the Mid-Atlantic, and we all shake off a year of isolation, I look forward to returning to my home state, coaching my clinic for the 20th year, seeing so many coaching friends, reconnecting with former players and teammates and to working with the young men who so selflessly give of themselves for the betterment of their teams by honing their OLine Skills.  Click the Brochure and register today!

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! 

Today & Tomorrow

In her song “Greatest Love of All,” Whitney Houston sang “I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.” 

Alercio OLine Clinic Brochure

That is particularly true when it comes to high school football.  Unlike college football where you can go out and recruit the players for size, speed, skill, or position, in high school, coaches develop the student athletes resident in one’s community.  The children in community youth programs are the future of your high school program.  To borrow a phrase, “Teach them well and they will lead the way.”

At the Alercio OLine Clinics, we provide college level instruction to high school players; but every year we have several schools that bring their 7th and 8th grade players.  Coincidentally, those teams who involve their youth players always turn out to be the top ranked teams in their state.  

Not only do those young players benefit from learning proper techniques and schemes of offensive line play, but they do so alongside their heroes, the upperclassmen on the varsity team they want to emulate and hope to someday be.  All under the watchful eyes of their future high school coaches.  

As leaders, teachers, mentors, and coaches, we set expectations, develop cultures, and a belief in something bigger than any one of us. I encourage coaches to invest in their program’s future by sharing our brochure with local youth coaches, players, and parents.  Let these young athletes train alongside the varsity and JV players and reinforce to them how important they are to the future of your program. In much the same way we build confidence, commitment, and optimism about the Fall of ’21, including youth program participants today, plants seeds of optimism for many Falls to come.  

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! 

SELFLESS

The tactics, techniques, and procedures of OLine Skills are learned physical traits.  Steps, visual targets, strike points, angles, leverage, and demeanor all need to be learned, trained, and practiced to have success at the position.  But it is the inherent trait of being selfless that makes the position and the men who play it truly special.  We close every Alercio OLine Clinic discussing this topic.

Offensive linemen are servants who facilitate the success of others.  Linemen find pleasure in helping others achieve success, and then celebrate that success together.  When our QB, Jake Cady, was named Gatorade Player of the Year, it was our offensive linemen who celebrated. Though Jake’s name may have been on the certificate,  it was as much the linemen’s award and their happiness was their reward.

When our local paper asked me to describe each of our players who made the Vermont Shrine team with one word.  I used Dominant to describe one, Versatile for another and Selfless to describe my son Shane. Shane later let me know he was disappointed with the adjective compared to the others. It wasn’t until his first day of training camp of the inaugural football season at the University of New England when he saw on Coach Lichten’s presentation on the traits of successful teams and successful teammates, the top trait of a Nor’easter football player: “SELFLESS.”

If you are looking to create a winning culture on your team, in your organization, at your school or within your company, you need everyone to be more like offensive linemen. It’s truly amazing what we can accomplish when we elevate the good of the team above self.

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! 

20th Anniversary Alercio OLine Clinic

Over 5,000 players from NJ, NY, PA, MD, VT, NH, CT have attended Alercio OLine Clinics since the inaugural clinic at The College of New Jersey on Sunday, March 17 2002.  This year’s clinic, at The Hun School of Princeton on Sunday, May 2, marks the 20th year we have hosted an Alercio OLine Clinic in New Jersey.

While I would like to take credit for the idea, it all started with a suggestion by Jim Meert, who was the head coach at Hunterdon Central HS at the time.  During a recruiting visit in December of 2001, while talking OLine play, he suggested I run an offensive line clinic for players noting most high schools do not have a qualified offensive line coach and the job often falls on the head coach. He followed by suggesting I host clinics in the Spring and not in the summer like most other player camps.  Lastly, he suggested I invite the high school coaches to attend as my guests and observe the techniques, drills and schemes taught.  It turns out Jim was a visionary.  We had 333 players participate in our first OLine Clinic under the watchful eyes of dozens of their coaches. 

March 17, 2002 was a great day for me professionally, but few knew the personal hardship I was experiencing that day.  My father, who got me started as a football player by hosting a youth football camp along with NJ coaching legend Al Saner, had passed away only two days before that first OLine Clinic.  Knowing how proud I was making him, was what got me through that day. In many preceding blog posts I’ve mentioned how much I’ve benefited from so many coaches who took the time to invest in me and help me grow. As fortunate as I consider myself in those circumstances, no gift compares to the love, encouragement, and confidence my father gave me. I work hard to make him proud every day but on those special days, give my OLine Clinics a little extra enthusiasm in his honor.    

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 Spreads the Love for O-Line Play!

Tom Haley of the Rutland Herald graciously offered permission to reprint his March 30th article here:

East Stroudburg University football will conjure up memories for some Mount Anthony Union High school football fans. It was at the Pennsylvania school that MAU graduate Dennis Mailhot made a big splash, leading the team in receptions three straight years, 1988-1990.

Coach Alercio Teaching, & Coaching O-Line Techniques

It was also where St. Johnsbury Academy head football coach Rich Alercio began his love affair with offensive line play.

Alercio arrived at East Stroudsburg just after Mailhot left. While on the Warriors staff he soaked up the teachings on line play from fellow coach Jim Pry.

Pry had caught his love for offensive line play from Jim McNally. If you look up offensive line play, Jim McNally’s picture should appear there.

“Jim McNally is the offensive line guru. He is the offensive line coach’s coach,” Alercio said.

McNally went to coach at Marshall just after the 1970 plane crash that took the lives of the entire Marshall football team. It was there that Pry became exposed to McNally’s instruction.

Alercio and Pry drove from East Stroudsburg to Cincinnati to spend some time with McNally, soaking up all they could about the intricacies of coaching offensive linemen.

McNally had a lengthy coaching career in the NFL that included stints as the offensive line coach with the Bengals, Panthers, Giants and Bills.

There is a misconception about offensive line play, Alercio said. Many people see it simply as a big guys hammering on one another. It gets lost in the beauty and grace of the wide open game that has evolved featuring quarterbacks and receivers.

“Line play is probably the most technical aspect of football,” Alercio said.

Alercio has written scores of articles on offensive line play for various publications. He has also authored a “20-something-page” manual on the subject.

His latest offering will be three one-day clinics on offensive line play to be available this summer at three locations in Vermont. They will be in conjunction with Chris Redding’s Passing Academy. Those sessions will be on July 11 in Rutland, July 18 in Burlington and July 25 in St. Johnsbury.

The Passing Academy will focus on the physical and mental skills of quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, linebackers and defensive backs with position specific coaching.

Alercio approached Redding about adding a lineman component because he felt instruction for the linemen was needed more than ever after they were the ones left out of high school football in 2020 with Vermont’s 7-on-7 touch football format.

“The timing is perfect. They have gone a year without line play,” Alercio said.

“Selfishly, I think the O-line clinic is really needed now. Linemen are a dying breed. There were so many schools that had linemen opt out (last fall.) I am hoping they see the O-line clinic as their welcomed return.”

There is a lot going on with football this summer in the state. The first annual 7-on-7 passing tournament will be held at Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester on July 10. The Vermont All-Star Football Camp returns July 12-16 in Rutland with another in the Burlington area.

Redding has taken over the football camp from Chadde Wolf and Alercio sees Redding as someone who possesses the marketing savvy to breathe new life into the camps.

“He is in tune with all the things that we need to do,” Alercio said.

There are also high hopes that the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl, the annual high school senior all-star game against New Hampshire, will return on Aug. 7 to Castleton University’s Dave Wolk Stadium. The game was a not held in 2020 for the first time since the inaugural game in 1954.

Alercio was scheduled to be the Vermont Shrine coach in 2020 and was asked if he wanted to assume the role in 2021.

He declined.

“I didn’t feel the same attachment to it,” Alercio said.

“I felt we had a great group of kids last year.”

It also would have enabled him to close out his son Trey’s high school career together in Shrine camp.

“I did not want to take it from someone who had a great relationship with the players on the team and really wanted to do it,” he said.

Instead of preparing for the Shrine Bowl, Alercio will be getting ready to present his O-line clinics, spreading the gospel for the part of the game that has fascinated him since meeting Jim Pry in 1991.

2021 Alercio O-Line Clinic will be held at the Hun School near Princeton, NJ on Sunday May 2nd. Brochures and registration will be available at Olineskills.com, on Facebook, and via email.

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 Teams Up!

Alercio OLine Clinics partners with Vermont All-Star Football Camps to bring offensive line training to each of their three 1-Day Passing Academies in Rutland (July 11th), South Burlington (July 18th) and now St Johnsbury (July 25th), Vermont. 

The Passing Academy will focus on the development of mental and physical skills of QB, RB, WR, TE, LB and DB.   The event will include position specific drills coached by college coaches, position specialists and local high school coaches.  There will be footwork development, position mechanics, agility and speed training along with the X’s & O’s of the position, 1-on-1 competitions and 7v7 games. 

The Alercio OLine Clinic will teach the true “Skill Players” in football the learned physical tasks that allow linemen of any size to achieve both individual and team success.  Run and pass blocking techniques and schemes will be taught with an emphasis on footwork, visual targets and strike points.  

To register for either the OLine or Passing Academy portions of the clinic, click here: REGISTRATION

I am also finalizing a date in May for our 20th New Jersey Alercio OLine Clinic at the Hun School of Princeton.  More details to follow.   

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! 

Follow Up Q&A

After sharing 10 Rapid Fire Game Planning Ideas and hearing my fellow panelists share theirs during last week’s Glazier Zoom Clinic, there was a Q&A session.  The coaches in attendance asked the three most common questions I hear as a high school football coach: 

  • How do you change a culture? 
  • How do you deal with parents? 
  • What do you do for team building?

You change a culture by increasing the level of expectation and the demands on the players.  Set your standards high, and hold them; those who are committed will remain.  Those who are not will weed themselves out.  Do not fret over those who leave.  Better they leave in July than October.  Let those who remain know you believe in them. Then make them believe in you by showing them your tireless commitment to their preparation.  

Parents want to be involved.  Let them.  Give them something non-football related they can control and take it off of your plate.  Our parents take turns hosting Thursday night team dinners throughout the season.  After every home game, they organize a post-game tailgate in our reserved parking lot feeding all of the players and coaches.  On gameday, they sell player pins (headshots of players on a pin) to raise money for our year-end banquet.  These are all very important events to our program that our parents organize and lead allowing me to focus on preparing the team.

We do a team building event on the second day of training camp when we are only allowed a single practice and no walk-thru.  Doing it early allows the new players to have a fun introduction to our program before things become more demanding in the coming days.  When we have had a sponsor, we have taken the team bowling.  When we don’t, we have gone to a lake or had coaches bring in yard games like cornhole, can jam, washer toss, and spikeball then let the kids play and compete.   We do not organize the games.  We let the players take the lead.  

Through a life in football beginning as a player in the 1970s, I have seen what has worked and what has failed.  These are a few things that we have implemented with success and I am always eager to share with fellow coaches.

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! 

Rapid Fire Game Preparations!

On Thursday, March 11 at 7:00pm EST, I will be one of three panelists in a Glazier Clinic Zoom webinar entitled 30 Rapid-Fire Game Planning Ideas.  I look forward to joining Coaches Dante Jones of Early College High School in Dover, DE and Victor Floyd from Chester High School in Chester, SC.  Each of us is responsible to share 10 ideas and are allotted 1 minute to discuss each topic.  With a rule that no panelist is allowed to repeat another coaches’ game planning idea, attendees are assured to leave the webinar with 30 different ideas they can implement into their game planning this Fall.  

I will share how we use self-scouting to determine our scripts, how we use analytics to both create our gameday call sheet and allocate practice time during the week, how we scout and prepare for opponents, our countdown to kickoff and how we make road games as similar as possible to home games to mention a few.  I will be prepared to share at least 15 ideas in case another panelist addresses a few of my top 10.  While I am excited to share my 10 ideas with coaches from all over the world, I am equally enthusiastic about leaving the webinar with 20 new ideas from my fellow panelists. 

While Spring is still more than a month away here in Vermont, Coaches across the country are starting anew, building hope, and energizing their programs with thoughts of the Fall of ’21. Collaborations like this one add energy and excitement to the possibilities inherent in the fresh starts Spring brings to us all.

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! 

Inspiration Comes In Many Forms

Our players enthusiastically returned to the gym this week after Winter break and like usual I joined them for their training session in our Racquet & Fitness Center that is also open to the public.   While working out alongside one of our Senior WR/DBs who is training for Lacrosse season, I was also realizing the workout was kicking my butt and I almost turned to him and said “it sucks getting old.”  But I held my tongue… 

As The New Day Begins, What Inspires Us To Be Our Best?

A moment later, Jim entered the room.

Jim is an 80 year old member of our fitness center and a “regular.”  Jim suffers from Multiple Myeloma Cancer.  From what I understand, his cancer affects the white blood cells in the bone marrow leaving him with debilitating pain in the bones of his spine.  It is managed with Chemotherapy which not only leaves him in pain but physically exhausted.  As I recognized he was really struggling walking into the room, I went up to ask how he was doing and why he wasn’t resting.  He replied, “gotta get my workout in!”  I told Jim what I was just about to say to that player and thanked Jim for inspiring me.

Jim is a military veteran and a former athlete.  I trust the officers and coaches who mentored him, also inspired him to have such an indomitable spirit.  While we prepare our athletes in the off-season for the games they will play next fall, we also prepare them for the lives they will lead and the impact they will have on others.  I pray I am able to inspire our players the way Jim’s mentors inspired him, and the way he inspires 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! 

Rest and Recover!

Break week should be a break.  With the increased focus schools now have on students and their mental health, schools schedule break weeks throughout the year to decrease stress levels and allow students to recuperate mentally before returning to the classroom.  I have never understood the teacher who assigns a project for their students to complete during break week, undermining the very purpose of the week.  

The same thinking applies to student-athletes and their athletic performance training.  Well planned and executed exercise programs intentionally stress muscle groups and individual muscles in order to stimulate recovery and growth. Regularly scheduled breaks in a strength training regimen are good for recovery and ultimately, mental and physical health.  The law of reversibility, during a detraining period of only one week, will not come into play.  The athlete who worked so hard for the past 6 weeks to get his deadlift 3 rep max to 385 will still be able to perform that lift after a one-week break.  Just like the math student who solved the algebraic equation correctly during his midterm prior to break can still solve the problem after break week.  

We think of our athletic performance training schedule as a football game.  From the time we return from Holiday break until Winter break is the 1st quarter.  From Winter to Spring break is the 2nd quarter.  Spring break to graduation is the 3rd quarter and Summer is the 4th quarter.  After each quarter of a football game there is a break.  A time for players to catch their breath, to hydrate and to refocus. On several occasions we talked about the importance of “Half-time adjustments” and breaks from training give the body a similar opportunity to assess and adjust. No football coach would ever elect to go from the opening kickoff to the final play with no scheduled breaks.  Players would burnout, performance levels would decline and goals would be harder to achieve.  Take advantage of the breaks and come back as a stronger, more motivated student and athlete.

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!