Strong Legs Run That Weak Legs May Walk

That is the motto of every Shrine Football Game. 2020-06-04 Trey's Shrine Game The Vermont – New Hampshire Shrine committee is working hard to see that the 67th Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl Game will be played on August 1.  Seventy-six of the top graduated high school seniors from New Hampshire and Vermont will square off in the annual football game where the real winners are the Children in the Shrine Hospitals.  Shrine Hospitals provide care for children up to the age of 18 with special health care needs.

Please consider supporting the game and Shrine Hospitals by visiting our son Trey’s First Giving Page.  (Or click on his picture here) If it doesn’t present when you click the link, go to firstgiving.com type Trey Alercio in the search bar then click Search.  Click on Trey Alercio’s Page then click on the green Donate button.  Any support is greatly appreciated.

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!

Letter to the Editor

I was truly grateful when last week’s blog “Hope For The Best and Plan For The Worst,” was republished by The Caledonian-Record, a local newspaper here in the Northeast Kingdom of New England. Yesterday, I was even more so when I saw Lucy Hayworth’s Letter to the Editor discussing my post. I started this blog with the intent of sharing thoughts and ideas with other coaches, players, and the broader community who have so frequently shared so much with me. I’m truly grateful this experiment in thinking out loud continues to help others and does so at times, places, and in ways I wouldn’t have thought of nearly four years ago at its inception.

Thank you, Ms. Hayworth, and thanks to the Caledonian Record for sharing last week’s blog and the permission to reprint her letter to the editor.

Coach Alercio’s Wisdom – Lucy Haworth

May 18, 2020

Coach Alercio’s Wisdom

To the Editor:

I would have missed the copy of Coach Rich Alercio’s post, Hope for Best and Plan for Worst (CR May 15) if it had not been staring me in the face this morning two days later, Sports Section B saved so I could do the Rumble and Sudoku puzzles. Amid the coronavirus pandemic,the title caught my attention. Ordinarily I probably would not have read a piece about coaching high school football.

Several years ago, I told my son I thought watching football was stupid: a bunch of men lined up bumping into each other, falling down in a pile, and then doing the same thing again. He acknowledged it could look like that. The only excitement came when a player caught a long pass, the fans went crazy; but no, the officials called “pass interference.” I thought that was the point! Since then, I have asked questions, learned more about the game and watch with appreciation. My children and their families are all Patriots’ fans. They now live in Charlotte, NC and Austin, TX. Our time together is limited. Watching the Patriots with them has become precious. Quarantined, I feel the loss.

Coach Alercio’s article is so much more than his ideas about what the upcoming Academy’s football season may look like. His hopes and alternate plans are clearly stated. But it is his outlook that offers all of us something worth thinking about during these difficult times. It challenges us to find reasons to work harder, seize opportunities to learn more about each other and ourselves, stay optimistic, “say a prayer for those whose list of ‘worsts’ include the real tragedies so many encounter.”

Coach Alercio also reminds us to be grateful. I thank The Caledonian-Record staff person responsible for printing Coach Alercio’s post. I thank the Academy for hiring such an outstanding person. Most of all, I am thankful for Mr. Alercio’s wisdom that I happened upon, merely, or maybe not, quite by chance. His example inspires me to be and do better.

Gratefully,

Lucy Haworth

St. Johnsbury, Vt.

Thank you Ms. Hayworth, and thanks again to the Caledonian Record. I’m so thankful for such a response, and even more so for the opportunity to help the students, faculty, and our local community hope for the best in each other, and all we can accomplish together.

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!

Jimmies & Joes…

There is an old saying in football, “it is not the Xs & Os, it’s the Jimmies and Joes”.  If your Jimmies & Joes are better than your opponents’, you’ll likely to win most games.

2019-04-18 Xs & Os vs Jim & Joe

That is why, over the past three months, I traveled to Bergen County NJ, Princeton NJ, Mystic CT, Windsor CT, Biddeford ME, and Orlando FL to attend clinics, conferences, and spring practices.  

In the NFL, you can draft better players.  In college football, you can recruit better players.  In high school, you have to coach the Jimmys and Joes who go to your school and you have to make them better than the Jimmys and Joes walking the halls of the schools on your schedule.  

The drills, techniques, and schemes we learned at Glazier and Nike Clinics, the USA Football Conference, and UNE practice will help us to make our players better.  We appreciate those coaches who were so willing to share what they do with us so that we can share it with our players and make them better Jimmys and Joes!

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!

 

Draft Your Own Team

“You’re on the clock!”

With the NFL draft being the dominant topic on sports talk radio, consider running your own draft with your coaches of your players.  For the past several years, I have tasked our coaches to create their own draft order of our players.  They are asked to create their personal “best available” list based on our roster.    It is always interesting to see how their lists compare with mine.  It will also reveal where you and your staff perceive to have positional strengths and weaknesses.

Once we have a collective draft order, we plug them into offensive and defensive positions.  Last year, during our undefeated Division I state championship run, we had 5 offensive linemen in our top 12.  This year, we do not have 5 OLs in our top 20.  That is a concern that needs to be addressed heading into our summer training.

It is every coaches’ objective to get the best 11 on the field.  This exercise will help you accomplish that goal.  You may find that you have 2 QBs in your top 11.  Make one a WR or RB.  If you have two Tight Ends in the top 11, put in a double tight or H back formation.  If you have no TEs, go with open end formations.

This is a fun staff activity that may open your eyes to something you had not already seen.

On another note, readers may recall my January trip to the USA Football National Conference in Orlando where I was fortunate to share some time with the extraordinary crew from USA Football (www.usafootball.com) and contribute to their Coaches Academy video series. My video on “Building a Culture,” is now live and available at USA Football.

2018-04-26 Rich at USA Football
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!

MLK O-Line Clinic Re-Cap

As stated in last week’s blog, this was my third year presenting at Fred Stengel’s Martin Luther King Day OLine Clinic.  I look forward to the annual pilgrimage for a number of reasons.  First and foremost, I love reconnecting with the coaches in my home state whom I just do not see often enough.  Next, I truly enjoy any opportunity to share those things that have made our program successful.  I have been very fortunate to learn from some great coaches and only hope that I can play a small part in the success of another coach’s career or team.  Lastly, I am always looking to learn and stay current in our profession.

The trip from St Johnsbury VT to Bergen NJ to attend was made easier thanks to some very entertaining football games on Sunday.  I caught the first quarter of the first game in Vermont and the last quarter of the last game in NJ and was entertained by radio on the 320 miles in between.  Tom McCarthy was the play-by-play guy for Westwood One’s presentation of the Steelers/Jaguars game.  Interestingly, Tom was the radio guy who covered our games when I was the OC at Trenton State College.  He has come a long way and is very deserving.  His broadcast was tremendous.

The clinic the next day was just as good.  It opened with Tim Allen, University of Pittsburgh, sharing their Shovel Pass and Jet Sweep.   He shared some creative ways they are doing both.  While many of us are running Shovel to a running back or H Back, they are also running it to an attached Tight End.  On their Jet Sweep, they are running it as an influence.  While running Jet Sweep to the right, only the right Tackle is blocking for Jet Sweep.  All other OLs are going to the left.

2018-01-18 Bergen Clinic

After my presentation on our Slide Protection, AJ Blazek, Rutgers University, shared his year-round development play for their offensive linemen.  He breaks the off-season up into 4 quarters that each have clear objectives for developing his OLs both physically and mentally.

Between speakers, Geoff Collins, Head Coach at Temple University, gave an unscheduled, brief but moving talk on his relationship with a former player.  Bill Tierney played on the great Bergen Catholic teams in the early 90s before going to Fordham where he had Coach Collins as a position coach.  In Bill’s junior season, he collapsed on the field during pre-game and never recovered.  I recruited and coached several of Bill’s teammates at Trenton State College/The College of New Jersey and remember their struggles in dealing with his loss.

The last speaker before the lunch break was Temple’s OLine Coach, Chris Wiesehan who gave a detailed presentation on coordinating the OLine and Running back in Mid Zone Stretch along with all of the blocking scenarios upfront on that play.

As much as I would have loved to stay for Princeton University’s Andrew Aurich’s talk on Gap Schemes and the Wing-T influence in the Pin & Pull Sweep Play, I took advantage of the lunch break to get on the road for a long trip back to Vermont.  But I did leave with some great ideas that I will incorporate in our program during Spring Ball.   I look forward to returning to the Garden State in February for the Atlantic City Glazier Clinic then again on March 25 at the Hun School for my 17th Annual OLine Clinic, and I hope to see many of my old friends again.

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!