Maybe it was Twitter, the great think-tank of social media. It could have been a book, too, which is where the origination of the Rule of 10,000 came from – “Outliers,” written by Malcom Gladwell in 2008. In it, the author suggests if anyone were to dedicate 10,000 hours to something they could become an expert.
“We’ve talked about it as a staff, so I thought that applied to the O line,” Best said. “Some of them, it’s the same thing, but there’s a variety of things each player needs to get better at. Through virtual reality, through work on the field in the chutes, taking sets… I’ve got them all documenting what they’re doing. “
Just not in hours, but in reps. Best, Colorado State’s offensive line coach, figures a good 10,000 reps in the preseason buildup will have his group on track for the start of fall camp. He presented the challenge to his room on May 1, giving them until Aug. 1. It broke down to 111 reps per day.
“It definitely seems daunting, but when you realize that it was the first week of May and you have three months, I figured as long as what I was supposed to be doing every day, I’ll get it done,” Gray Davis said . “If you get focused and locked in, it shouldn’t take you more than 20-30 minutes every day.”
Seems easy enough when broken down that way, but then again, Dontae Keys had other factors to consider. The transfer from Florida International was not just acclimating to a new program and town, he had added fatherhood to his plate with the addition of Dontae Jr., who is now a robust 3-month old.
As all new parents come to realize, finding time to get in extra work while searching for a few hours of unencumbered sleep is not always easy. It made him question the request at first, but it actually worked out pretty well. Young Dontae is usually awake when dad returns from morning workouts and he’s more than happy to watch daddy with a curious eye.
“Whenever I get home, he’s up, and that’s normally when I get my work in,” Keys said. “It’s kinda quiet, so it works out pretty good. It’s a big adjustment, but he’s a blessing.
“Once you get in the groove of things, it’s not really that hard, especially if it’s something you actually want to get better at. The rule of 10,000, a lot of it is mental, to perfect your craft and getting in the mode and mindset, be it a pass set or run blocking. It works out pretty good once you get in the mode. ”
Each of Best’s linemen has their own particular marching orders, a list of individualized tasks created from watching spring camp. But there are also some base items on the list for all to work on, mainly the pass-rush sets and using of independent hands.
The former is the bread-and-butter for the Air Raid, the latter a better, more up-to-date technique in Best’s mind for keeping the quarterback upright.
“The old-school mentality on the offensive line is the two-hand punch, and if you look at it, you punch, your body will follow your hands; you lunge, you get off-balance, you get beat, ”he said. “As much as we throw the football, we can’t be doing that. Independent hands is a big deal, playing long. We recruit these big guys with huge, long arms – not necessarily tall, but long limbs so the reach is really good. We want them to be able to control what’s moving and with bend and being able to use their hands independently of each other. That’s really awkward, and it takes a lot of reps to master it. That’s the major emphasis across the board. “