Maybe it was Twitter, the great social media think tank. It could also have been a book, which is where the origin of the 10,000 rule came from — “Outliers,” written by Malcom Gladwell in 2008. In it, the author suggests whether someone would spend 10,000 hours doing something he or she would like to do. . could become an expert.
“We talked about it as a staff, so I thought that applied to the O-line,” Best said. “Some of them, it’s the same, but there are some things that every player has to get better at. Through virtual reality, by working on the field in the slides, taking sets… I had them all document what they are doing.”
Just not in hours, but in repetitions. Best, the Colorado State Offensive Lines coach, estimates that a good 10,000 reps in preseason preparation will have his group on track for the start of fall camp. He presented the challenge to his chamber on May 1, giving it until August 1. It broke down to 111 reps per day.
“It sure seems daunting, but when you realize it was the first week of May and you’ve got three months, I thought, as long as I’m supposed to be doing what I’m supposed to do 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 a day.”
It seems easy enough when broken down that way, but then again, Dontae Keys had other factors to consider. Florida International’s transfer wasn’t just getting used to a new program and a new city, he had gotten fatherhood on his plate with the addition of Dontae Jr., who is now a robust 3 month old.
As all new parents come to realize, it’s not always easy to find time to do extra work while seeking a few hours of unburdened sleep. It made him question the request at first, but it actually worked out quite well. Young Dontae is usually awake when Daddy returns from morning practice and he is more than happy to see Daddy with a curious look.
“When I get home, he’s awake, and that’s normal when I get my work done,” Keys said. “He’s pretty quiet, so it’s a good thing. It’s a big adjustment, but it’s a blessing.
“Once you get into the rhythm of things, it’s not that hard, especially if it’s something you really want to get better at. The rule of 10,000, a lot of it is mental, to perfect your craft and get into the mode and mindset, be it a pass set or a run blocking. It works quite well once you’re in the mode.”
Each of Best’s linemen has its own specific marching orders, a list of individualized tasks created from watching spring camp. But there are also some basic items on the list that anyone can work on, mainly the pass-rush sets and the use 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 spirit for keeping the quarterback afloat.
“The old-fashioned mentality in the offensive line is the two-handed punch, and if you look at it, you punch, your body will follow your hands; you fall out, you lose balance, you get beat,” he said. “No matter how much we throw with the football, we can’t do that. Independent hands is important, play long. We recruit these big guys with huge, long arms – not necessarily long, but long limbs, so the reach is really good. We want them to be able to control what moves and bend and use their hands independently. That’s really clunky and takes a lot of reps to get the hang of it. That’s the big emphasis across the board.”