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 and share with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for supporting this blog and joining our conversations, and as always, 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:                                                 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 ( but should have included a link to his version of the guest post which can be found here:

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