A Reason, a Season, or a Lifetime…

Earlier this week, one of my former players suffered the loss of his father.  When I reached out with my condolences, he informed me that his father and I were two of the most influential people in his life. Later that week, I ran into a young man I coached for only a week in the Vermont North v South Senior Bowl.  He greeted me with a hug as if we had a relationship spanning years rather than days. 

In both instances, I felt waves of gratitude. Gratitude certainly for the sentiments these young men expressed, gratitude for the opportunity to positively impact the lives of others, and even more so for the opportunity to pay forward the investment my coaches made in me. It is said, “People come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.” I think one can assume we as coaches come into the lives of our players for similar intervals. Whether for years, weeks or only one day, don’t take for granted the impact you are having on another person’s life. I’d be willing to bet you like me, are the beneficiary of those who cared enough to help along the way. Be worthy and pay it forward.

Looking ahead in 2019:

Sundays March 24 and April 7 allow me the opportunity to positively impact hundreds of young men at Alercio OLine Clinics.  For 18 years we have taught over 5,000 young men the “skills” associated with the most selfless position in all of sport. 

We remind them that the true “skill” players in football are the offensive linemen. Running, throwing, catching, and tackling come naturally.  Run and pass blocking techniques must be learned, trained, and mastered.  

I am also honored by the scores of coaches in attendance who trust me with teaching their players the techniques and schemes that have made our teams and players so successful.  Many of these conference and state championship coaches return year-after-year with their players and assistant coaches.  

I look forward to returning to The Hun School of Princeton on Sunday, March 24, to seeing my fellow coaches and to working with their players and am excited to host our first clinic at St Johnsbury Academy in Vermont on Sunday, April 7.  

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 your time!

Coaches Are Teachers…

2018-03-07 coaching_at_the_blackboard
Coaches are teachers, but what is teaching?  Perhaps I can offer a football analogy.  Consider the teacher to be the quarterback, the information the ball and the student the receiver.  In order for the teacher to be successful, the information needs to be passed AND received in such a way the receiver has the ability to do something with it.
Though a coach may pass the information, it is not what you as the coach can do that matters. It is what you can get your players to do. While the pass and catch analogy works fine in basic concept, there is actually a far greater task at hand. With eleven players on the field at any one time, we have to teach, coach, train, and mentor our players on BOTH their individual assignments and the roles and responsibilities of the players on their left and right. When players begin to grasp how each role complements another, and how together teammates are stronger than any could be alone, the team builds cohesion and interdependence.
Now back to the quarterback analogy… As Spring approaches and we as coaches consider the task ahead of us, we clearly have to “throw a lot of passes,” teaching our players their roles and responsibilities. We only return one starter from our championship offensive line, and none of his fellow starters this year will be seniors. With 30 years experience coaching this great game, I have enough plays to fill a high school full of chalkboards. My staff and I could be “throwing passes” all spring… However, 30 years experience has also taught me the importance of focusing on fundamentals, establishing a solid foundation of understanding, and cultivating a culture of interdependence. Prioritizing the “passes we throw” (lessons we teach), will make all the difference if we are to defend our state championship. I look forward to the journey of our 2018 season and am thankful for the opportunity to share it here with you.
Please join us Sunday, March 25, at the 17th Annual Alercio OLine Clinic 2018 NJ OLine Clinic Brochurewhere more than 300 linemen and coaches will focus on the fundamentals and teach all of the run and pass techniques and schemes your players need for success. The Alercio OLine Clinic will prepare your players for “the passes you throw” at them this Spring, Summer, and Fall.

Click on the brochure image to the right to get your Alercio Oline Clinic application, fill it out, send it in with your tuition, and join us at the Hun School of Princeton on March 25, 2018. Early bird rates are still available and will again discount individual tuition for teams sending five (5) or more players. As in the past, Coaches may attend for free.

Although this is a non-contact camp, we recognize that there is the risk of concussion with the sport of football.  For education materials on concussions please visit the USA Football at www.usafootball.com 
Coach Rich Alercio is available to discuss team building, 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 your time!

The Score Takes Care of Itself…

Santa left a great read for me under the tree this year, Bill Walsh’s book The Score Takes 2018-01-04 Bill Walsh Score Takes Care of ItselfCare of Itself.  As a Glazier and Nike speaker for the past 20 years, I have had the pleasure of listening to some of the greats in our profession speak, but no one was more impressive than Bill Walsh.  Hundreds of coaches sat motionless hanging on his every word for an hour.

Coach Walsh’s message that day at the AFCA national convention, and the theme of his book hold true on the field and in life.  He believed that if you did everything right throughout the year the final score of games would be in your favor.  5 years ago when we started cultivating the St Johnsbury program’s culture, the philosophy we shared with our players 5 years ago at St Johnsbury Academy could have come right of the pages of Coach Walsh’s book: “games are not won on weekends in the fall”.

In my most recent blog, we went into great detail on end of season staff duties and the details of auditing your staff.  Now we turn our focus on planning our schedule for 2018. We “begin with the end in mind,” planning opportunities and events to develop our coaches and players, while reinforcing the St Johnsbury culture throughout the year.  A list of dates and events follow as part of the plan to get us from New Years to game 1.

Jan 5 – Olympic Weightlifting Clinic for players and coaches hosted by US Senior International Coach Chris Polakowski.

Jan 6-7 – USA Olympic Weightlifting level I Certification Course for coaches

Jan 9 – Begin Winter athletic performance program.

Jan 15 – I speak at Championship Football Clinic, Bergen NJ on Slide Protection.  Prior to presenting at Clinics, I present to our staff.  It serves as practice for me and a development opportunity for them.

Jan 27 – I speak at the USA Football National Conference on all the plays we run out of our Dart/Counter scheme.

Feb 4 – Host a Super Bowl party for players and staff.  End it at halftime.  The next day is a school day.

Feb 19-22 – Staff meetings in preparation for Spring Practices.

Feb 24 – I speak at the Atlantic City Glazier Clinic in 3 “Chalk War” sessions of our Spread Offense vs 3-4, 4-2-5 and 3-3 Stack defenses.

Mar 5-9 – Spring Practices

Mar 12 – Begin Spring athletic performance program

Mar 16-17 Vermont Interscholastic Football League Meetings and Clinic.

March 25 – 17th Annual Alercio OLine Clinic at The Hun School of Princeton NJ

June 11 – Begin Summer athletic performance program.  Mondays: Strength & OLine practice.  Tuesdays: Speed & 7v7 Practice, Thursdays: Strength & 7v7 Practice.

June 25-29 – Youth Football Camp taught by Staff and Senior Players.

July 14 – Northeast 7v7 Tournament, Exeter NH.

July 21 – Northeast Kingdom 7v7 Tournament and Strongman Competition, St Johnsbury VT.

July 23-26 – Mini Camp

July 30-Aug 10 – Off.  Football families know this is the time to schedule vacations.

Aug 12 – Meet the Coaches.  Players and parents meet the football coaching staff.

Aug 13 – Training Camp Begins

I’ll continue to reinforce opportunities to converse face to face as dates draw closer. I really enjoy engaging with coaches, players, and other readers of the blog (as well as followers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!)  I’d be happy to come to visit with your staff at the clinics mentioned above or meet at your school.

Coach Rich Alercio is available to discuss team building, 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 your time!

Auditing Your Coaching Staff

Auditing Your Coaching Staff

In a recent blog post, we discussed End of Season Duties.  They include collecting equipment, doing inventory for loss or damage, scheduling reconditioning, hosting player meetings, establishing your “wants and needs” list for next season, scheduling a date for your banquet, creating the off-season strength & conditioning program, identifying professional development opportunities, doing video analysis of the past season, scheduling dates for Spring Ball, and most importantly thanking the many contributors who all aided in our program’s success.  The last duty prior to getting the next season kicked off is the auditing of our coaching staff.

We have two priorities in regard to our coaching staff.  One is that they are happy in their role and two is that they are productive in their role.  We break up our coaching assignments into five categories: Administrative, Coaching, Gameday, Practice and Video.  Below are roles for head and assistant coaches. For the sake of this article, let’s assume I’m discussing a small to medium sized high school staff where coaches address multiple roles across offense, defense, and special teams. Larger programs may have the luxury (or necessity) of specializing in smaller position groups on one side of the line of scrimmage. Nonetheless, one should apply the same principles of auditing more specialized roles as well.

2017-12-19 Coaching Roles for AuditTable 1: Coaching Roles Worksheet

After all other End-of-season duties have been completed, we meet with each coach individually to review each assignment and get discuss if it is the best use of their talents and something they enjoy doing. Most of the conversation follows the path of “What are we doing well?” and “What do you think we can do better?” I suggest applying those questions from several perspectives:

  • What are we as a team doing well, and what can we do better?
  • What are you as a coach doing well, and what can you do better?
  • What am I as a head coach doing well, and what can I do better?

Perspectives matter: “Where you sit determines what you see.” The minor shifts in perspective posed by phrasing the same question in slightly different ways has the potential to open a much broader view of your coaches, your staff, and your team.

While the tasks and responsibilities outlined in the assignment table are tangible touch points for a specific role, there are also other considerations common across the staff. We are all responsible for leading, teaching, and mentoring those in our care. From a leadership perspective, we discuss each coach’s personal example; both on and off the field. It’s our responsibility to model the character and behavior we hope to cultivate in our players, and to feed the culture, beliefs, and values of our team. Let me emphasize, I don’t expect Sainthood or perfection. We are all human and all make mistakes. I try to set and convey expectations for character and personal example in order to better serve our athletes and team. If we are to grow as leaders, and if I am to realize my goal of helping assistant coaches maximize their potential, we should consider leadership performance as well as the categories highlighted in Table 1. Assessing both tangible and intangible aspects of performance helps clarify and confirm expectations and understanding, ultimately guiding both staff members and our team to future success.

Coach Rich Alercio is available to discuss team building, 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 your time!

Know Your Team & Know Yourself!

Post Game Evaluation & Next Week

Continuing the conversation on my trip to Phoenix… We’ve been discussing the programs I recorded for USA Football at the Arizona Cardinal’s Training Center.

The third course produced is entitled Post Game Evaluation & Next Week.  We begin with a Sun Tzu quote, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”  What Sun Tzu did not consider over 2,000 years ago was knowing the enemy but not yourself.

The first step covered in video analysis is grading players.  We discuss grading players under four criteria on each play: Alignment, Assignment, Effort and Execution.  Each criteria is valued at a quarter of a point to determine a grade.  2017-08-02 Grading CriteriaDuring the grading process, we recognize the importance of providing positive reinforcement for desired outcomes through awards and recognition for individuals and position groups.

 

Then we focused on self-scouting…understanding yourself.  We discuss breaking down offensive Run, Pass and Screen tendencies by Formation, Down & Distance, Field Position, Field/Boundary, Right/Left and Personnel.  We then shares ways to set up and break those tendencies in the next week’s game plan.

The conversation continues with determining mean, median and mode 2017-08-02 Statistical Analysisaverages and efficiency percentages for run plays to determine when, where and if they should be included in next week’s game plan.  We do the same for pass plays based on efficiency percentage, completion percentage, yards per completion and yards per attempt.

Next up we discuss analyzing game data to determine how much practice time should be dedicated to each play and situation.  You need to spend more practice time on the play you call 12 times per game than the one called only twice.  focus on success magnifying glassWe then analyzed game data to determine how much practice time should be committed to the following situations:  Redzone, Goalline, Coming Out, 2-Minute, 4-Minute, On Schedule, 3rd Downs, 2nd & Short, 2nd and Long and 4th Down.

We conclude the conversation with suggestions for adjustments needed due to injury and depth issues and the progression of offense during the season.  Advice is given on keeping your installation simple during training camp then building on as you get into the season.  Focus on technical before tactical.

Given all the technical specifics, don’t overlook the importance of confidence, focus, and understanding derived from such an effort. Help your players understand the “why” behind all this work, and it will reinforce confidence in their teammates, coaches, and most importantly themselves. Napoleon is quoted as saying “The moral is to the physical, as three is to one…” Do the work, underpin success, and build belief in your program!

Coach Rich Alercio is available to discuss summer OTAs, 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 your time!

Tips for Summer Training Success Part II

This week we tried to bring Part II of our Summer Training Series with another guest contribution from Coach Adrian Guyer, CSCS, USAW-2, CSAC. I can’t tell you how fortunate we are to have Coach Guyer’s knowledge, skills, abilities, and support. I’m confident it will pay off throughout the summer and into the Fall season!

While I’ve been a coach for several decades, I’m pretty new to the blogging space and after further consideration, the formatting, videos, and content on xiptraining.com do a better job than I can here of conveying the content.

 

You can read more, help yourself and help your team improve at www.xiptraining.com and review summer training tips from this article at https://www.xiptraining.com/single-post/2017/06/27/Summer-Training-Applications-for-Athletes-Part-2

I look forward to letting you all know how our OTAs and Coach Guyer’s strength and conditioning program support our development this summer.

Coach Rich Alercio is available to discuss summer OTAs, 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 your time!

 

Strength & Conditioning Follow Up!

As a follow-up to our previous blogs about hiring a qualified person to handle your Strength & Conditioning… Once you do, let them do their job!

I recently attended our state NSCA (National Strength & Conditioning Association) clinic.  One of the presenters shared some great information but also shared something troubling.  He informed us that his head football coach told him that he needed to accomplish three goals:

1) Increase the player’s bench press max. 

2) Increase their squat max. 

3) Make them look good getting off the bus. 

He accomplished those three goals, but then shared the team has only won seven games over the past three seasons…

It is great to increase your bench and squat and doing so will likely make you look better getting off the bus, but that does not necessarily translate into wins on the field.

2017-06-19 bench & squat

The job of a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist is not to turn your players in to power lifters or bodybuilders but rather to make them better football players. Your job as coach is to effectively communicate the goals you’ve established for your team, and to help your strength and conditioning coach help you, by adding a “purpose.” If your S&C Coach understand “the why,” behind your goals, he or she can make decisions along the way to reinforce your success.

The goals of our strength and conditioning program have little to do with the aforementioned goals.

Our goals are as follows:

  • Decrease injuries,
  • Increase Rate of Force Development (Acceleration)
  • Increase Rate of Force Acceptance (Deceleration)
  • Increase mobility
  • Increase Power (Work / Time)

The purpose of our program is to build healthy, resilient teammates who are faster, stronger, more powerful, and more confident in themselves and their teammates. With an understanding of both the goals and purpose, we’re better able to discuss the program plan, implementation, and measures of performance/success.

Note that we focus on Power rather than strength.  We have no interest in seeing our players take 4 seconds to put up “three plates” (315 lbs) on their bench press.  We would much rather see our players bench “two plates” (225 lbs) in less than 1 second after a 2 second eccentric contraction and a 1 second hold.  

If you are unable to get a CSCS to work with your program and you, like so many other football coaches, are thrust into the position of Strength & Conditioning Coach at your school, please get certified. (read more bout certification here: https://www.nsca.com/Certification/CSCS/)                                                 2016-06-19 CSCS Logo

If you do not have the time to study for 3-6 months and take the CSCS test, consider taking one or both of the following classes and receiving their certification:

  • USA Weightlifting Level 1
  • NSCA Essential Foundations of Coaching Lifts. 

Both will make you a better Strength Coach and reduce liability in the unfortunate event of a weight room related injury.

Thanks for the questions and compliments on last week’s blog. One thing to note, last week I included the link to Coach Guyer’s website (https://www.xiptraining.com/) but should have included a link to his version of the guest post which can be found here: https://www.xiptraining.com/single-post/2017/06/13/Tips-for-Summer-Training-Success-Part-1

As always, thanks for following us and participating in this journey!  Coach Rich Alercio is available to discuss summer OTAs, 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 your time.