Competition & Encouragement

Coaches always say that games are won and lost in the trenches but most spend the offseason and summer sending their “skill” players to passing camps and 7v7 tournaments.  That is why I started my OLine Clinics over 20 years ago, and why we host a Strongman Competition and OLine Challenge at our annual Northeast Kingdom 7v7 tournament.

The Strongmen compete in the following events:

1. Log Press (Max Reps in 1 Minute)

2. Farmer Carry (Best time)

3. Hexbar Deadlift (Max Reps for 1 minute)

4. Seated Sled Pull (Best time)

Our OLine Challenge has 5-man teams competing in the following events:

1. Standing Slam ball Toss (Total distance)

2. 1-man Sled Drive Relay (Best time)

3. Tire Flip Relay (Best time)

4. Sandbag Carry Relay (Best time)

5. Team Tug-of-War (Seeded Single Elimination)

While I am proud to say that one of our guys was the overall winner in the Strongman competition and our team won the OLine Challenge, I am more proud of how spirited the event was throughout the day.  The 7v7 games were very competitive, but the competition at times was contentious.  The Strongman and OLine Challenge events were also very competitive but players from different schools were all very supportive of each other.  Players wearing a rainbow of colors representing schools from all over Vermont and one from New Hampshire circled around each other and cheered as individuals they may have never met pushed themselves to the limits and beyond in the spirit of competition.

There is truly something special about offensive linemen.  Simply stated, they are selfless. That’s not to say others can’t be selfless as well, but as we’ve noted previously, the nature of the roles on the offensive line often rewards selfless interdependence more frequently and more consistently than other positions. Some roles tend to be more “supporting,” while others tend to be more “supported.” It was great to see the OLinemen “supporting” each other throughout the competitions.

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 and share with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for supporting this blog and joining our conversations, and as always, thanks for your time!  

Competition Returns!

Hilltopper Teammates and Coaches

Thank you to Chris Redding of Vermont All-Star Football Camps and Tom McCoy, head coach at Burr & Burton Academy, for hosting the Inaugural Vermont All-Star Football 7v7 Tournament.  Congratulations to Mount Anthony Union High School and Coach Chad Gordon on taking home the championship.  We were able to find a way to get a win in Game #1 vs Mt Anthony before they went on a tear winning their next 5 games including knocking us out in the semi finals.  

Join us Sunday, July 25 at St Johnsbury Academy for the Vermont All-Star Football Camps Passing Academy and Alercio OLine Clinic

Now, I look forward to working with Chris Redding to host the Vermont All-Star Football Camps Passing Academy and Alercio OLine Clinic on Sunday, July 25 at St Johnsbury Academy.  I was excited to meet linemen from Mt Anthony and Burr & Burton who shared how eager they are to make the trip to STJ to hone their OLine Skills.  I am also thrilled to bring college coaches and position specialists to the Northeast Kingdom to work with all position players.  

The Math and Science teachers of those attending the Alercio OLine Clinic will appreciate how we set and maintain optimal geometric angles in the ankle, knee, hip and elbows in run blocking and the leg angles used in pass blocking.  They will also be happy to know that we incorporate Newton’s Third Law that for every action in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction.  We call it Ground Force Reaction as we time our run punch with the grounding of our second step and pass strike with the grounding of our third. Lastly, we’re not shy about teaching “Inertia” either. A pass rusher will continue on his path (to sack the quarterback) unless acted upon by another force; ideally an Offensive Lineman imparting a vector of sufficient force and direction to change the rusher’s predetermined course!

Competitive and instructional opportunities like these are commonplace in many states but are a rarity in Vermont, especially in the Northeast Kingdom. To take advantage of this opportunity, visit

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 and share with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for supporting this blog and joining our conversations, and as always, thanks for your time! 

Lineman’s Dream

Every offensive lineman’s dream is to score a touchdown…

But that is not in their job description.  Their role on the team is to selflessly block so that others can have the glory of reaching the end zone.  Their running backs, quarter backs, and receivers are lauded by cheering fans while the offensive linemen anonymously return to the sideline.

When we have had athletic offensive linemen in the past, we have rewarded them with the opportunity to experience the glory of crossing the goal line.  During our 2017, season, our Right Tackle scored several rushing touchdowns aligned as a running back in a goal line package.  In that same season, during the state championship game, on a 4th and 1 on the goal line, just before halftime, we threw a screen pass to our left tackle for a touchdown.

Playing 7v7 football in Vermont this season allows all offensive linemen the opportunity to get in the end zone.  Our lone returner from last year’s offense, a 2-year starter at Left Guard, is now a senior running back.  He always wanted to play running back but selflessly assumed his role on the offensive line because that was what was best for the team.  With two games under our belt, that Left Guard has 9 receptions for 80 yards and two touchdowns.  

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 and share with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for supporting this blog and joining our conversations, and as always, 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 and share with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for your time!

Thanksgiving… & Next Steps…

2017-11-26 St J State Champs

Having gone 11-0, winning a State Championship, and contributing to the lives of such wonderful young men, I’m thankful for so many things this year. I’d also like to thank you who have followed the blog and our team over a journey we began shortly after Thanksgiving 2016. The outpouring of support from the students, faculty, administrators, and the local community has been extraordinary. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the love and support of my wife, and the utter joy of sharing this season with my sons. All year long we’ve worked hard to be worthy in the eyes of those who invested in us and at the same time, worthy of our individual and collective investments as players, coaches, and teammates. At it’s best, football teaches us dedication, loyalty, commitment, courage, and integrity; individual elements of character amplified by the team. Elements leaving indelible marks on our hearts, and win or lose, ultimately contributing to success later in life.

Having taken a few moments to savor the success of the 2017 season and to be genuinely grateful for the individual and collective successes, challenges, and contributions to our championship, it’s time to move on and think about next steps.

End of Season Duties

We just completed the perfect season, undefeated state champions.  As a staff, we worked 15 hour days 7 days-a-week for 3 months.  Now it is all over.  What do we do now?

Equipment.  Collect all equipment.  Check for loss or damage.  Inventory your equipment to determine needs for next year.  Schedule reconditioning of hard gear.

Meetings.  Schedule 10-15 minute, 1-on-1 meetings with every player.  Get their feedback on the season, their role on the team, and their relationship with their position coaches.  Then discuss their future in the program.   Where do they see themselves next year?  Tell them where you see them.  Convey your belief in their ability to contribute, and set expectations for their contributions. Find out what their plans are for the winter season.  Discuss future plans for outgoing seniors… college, vocation, military.  Then schedule meetings with your assistant coaches to review their roles.   See if they are happy in their role and if their family is happy in the program.  Get their feedback on the past season and their input on plans for next season. Lastly, prepare a “wants and needs” list then schedule a meeting with your athletic director or head of school.  The “needs” should be those things to keep your program where you are.  The “wants” are those things that can bring your program to the next level.

Celebrate.  Nail down a banquet date to celebrate the successes of the past season.  11-0 or 0-11, there are things to be grateful for, don’t let them go unrecognized. Determine award recipients to honor those deserving players.  Make a list of the peripheral people in your program you need to invite and publicly thank…Training staff, Chain gang, Grounds Crew, Booth crew, local media, administrators, boosters and coaches’ wives. Though they may not feel they are the core of your team, make sure they know we couldn’t do it without them.

Athletic Performance.  Work with a certified strength and conditioning specialist to create an off-season workout program maximizing athletic performance not just increasing a player’s 1 rep max.  If you do not have better players, make your players better.

Professional development.  Seek opportunities for yourself and your staff.  Visit colleges and/or attend clinics.  Identify those things you are interested in bringing to your program next season and research those who do it well.

Video analysis.  Perform a self-scout and statistical analysis of your plays, formations, motions, fronts, blitzes, coverages.  If it did not work, get rid of it.  If it did, build upon it, and as my Marine Corps friends say, “reinforce success!”

Next season.  Prepare your depth chart for Spring Ball.  Consider moving players to get the best players on the field in the most complementary roles.  Have a plan to bring in your incoming 8th-grade class and set expectations for leadership responsibilities across each of the returning class cohorts: every player’s personal example matters!

Enjoy the Holidays and some well-earned downtime, and again, thanks for joining us on this journey. I look forward to continuing the conversation.

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 and share 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 and share with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for your time!

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



Teaching & Drilling the Screen & Draw Game

This Martin Luther King Day, January 16, I will be speaking at Championship Football Clinics 18th Annual Offensive Line Clinic along with John Peterson, University of Pittsburgh, Justin Frye, Boston College, Allen Mogridge, Florida International, AJ Blazek, Rutgers University & Rich Hargitt, Eastside HS, S.C.

The clinic begins at 8am and is located at the Knights of Columbus, 79 Pascack Rd Washington Twp NJ. 2 miles from Bergen Catholic, High School

My topic is Teaching and Drilling the Screen and Draw Game.  Our Draws are 3 different plays but only 1 Scheme.  We run a QB Lead Draw, a QB Draw in Empty with a Pulling Tackle and a RB Lead Draw.  All three Draws are blocked the same with only one exception…the person assigned to block the Sam (1st playside LB).   The Tackles block #2 on the LOS (DE), Guards block #1 on LOS (DT or NG) and the Center blocks Mike (Middle or Backside LB).  Center will combo with either Guard if their #1 is in his path to Mike.  On our QB Lead Draw, the running back isolates the Sam.  We have our H-Back block the Sam on our RB Draw.  We pull the backside Tackle to block the Sam on our QB draw in Empty and align the TE next to him to cut of his #2.


Draw is a running play so all of the offensive linemen can run block the scheme; but to create larger holes and encourage defensive linemen to displace themselves, we want our linemen to Jump Set any defensive linemen in an outside alignment (examples: Tackle vs a 5 tech or Guard vs a 3 tech).  On our Jump Set, we teach the offensive lineman to take a Base Run Step with his inside foot; and show a pass set with his upper body.  The “High Hat” of the pass set gives the DL a false read of pass and gets him in to a pass rush and away from the point of attack.  The Base Run Step with the inside foot defends the play in case of the DL being on an inside rush or slant.

We drill three scenarios in our Jump Sets.  When the DL gets upfield in a pass rush, we Club & Ride.  Our visual target is the near Pec.  We hold the set position until the rusher gets hip-to-hip then we turn towards him to club & ride him upfield.  The strike points are outside hand to near shoulder and inside hand to spine.  We are looking to club the middle of the back just below the shoulder pads.  On the ride, we want to be underneath the rusher so that he cannot retrace his steps when he recognizes Draw.    The next scenario is a DL who does not rush, but rather sits and reads.  After our Jump Set and the recognition that he is not rushing, we get in to an Angle Drive Block with a visual target of the near Pec and Strike points of near shoulder with the inside hand and sternum with the outside hand.  The last scenario we drill is the DL on an inside rush or slant move.  We must recognize the threat to our inside immediately and get in to a Vertical Drive Block to stop any inside penetration with a visual target of the sternum and strike points on both pecs.

Our Slip Screens are 3-man, 2-count screens to the RB or TE and are run off of plays in our offense with NOW throws.  This allows us to run all of our screens as Screen Pass Options (SPOs).  Just like an RPO, we will identify a defender and read him as to whether we throw the Now throw of the pass play or turn to throw the screen.  This also sells the screen when we do throw it because the receivers are running routes and the QB has his eyes on a route opposite the screen.


On our Stick Slip, we read the Sam to throw the Stick route to the TE or Slip Screen to the RB.  On our Boot Screen, will read the Sam to throw our TE Pin Flat or RB Slip.  On our Sprint Y Slip, we throw a slide route to our Slot Receiver or a Slip to the TE.

On all of our Screens we block the protection of the play for a 2-count so there is no new teaching.  After the 2-count, three linemen will depart to the edge of the box on the screen side.  The first one looks Out, the second looks Up and the third looks In.  On our Stick Slip and Sprint Y Slip, the two Guards and Center pull out on the Screen.  Since we pull a Guard in our Boot protection, on our Boot Slip, we pull the Screen side Tackle, Center and Playside Guard out on the Screen.  The other two linemen stay in their protection.

The technique we teach and drill on Screens for the offensive linemen is to Run (Out, Up, or In), Buzz (feet before contact) then block.  On the block the visual target is the sternum and the strike points are the pecs.  We buzz our feet to get the offensive lineman under control before making contact.