Dr. Cella’s Triple Option Practice Methodology: Part Three

To read Dr. Cella’s Triple Option Practice Methodology: Part One–go here.

To read Dr. Cella’s Triple Option Practice Methodology: Part Two–go here.

Would you want an expensive restaurant at which you ate to take shortcuts?  We live in a microwave society; however, very few people would want to go out and eat at a restaurant who microwaves all of their food.  Most people want to eat at a restaurant where the food is prepared through a specific process in the kitchen and the attention to detail is dramatically transparent. 

The Dr. Cella-lead program involves practice to occur as close as possible to how the game actually occurs.  Practices must match game conditions in order to maximize realistic preparation.  In addition, players and coaches must practice in weather conditions that match potential game conditions—this means practicing in the rain.   Obviously, the exception are extreme situations and dangerous situations. 

You do not rise to the level of the occasion—you sink to the level of your preparation.  In the Dr. Cella-lead program, bad habits are broken in practice, and are broken long before game time.  In the pressure and unpredictable flux of a game, nobody has time to think about what to do.  Players and coaches react based on the instincts developed in practice, so bad habits that are uncorrected are sure to re-emerge during a game.  This is implicit-based procedural memory, not intellectual, frontal lobe-driven thought that drives players’ actions at game speed.  It’s amazing that when you have great practices you have great games.

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This has been proven by recent cognitive research.  The brain’s pathways actually reinforce themselves through utilization, so the concept of habits is simply not a nagging point from your grandmother—this is a fact, which is burned into the players’ brain through repetition against multiple situations.  If a player aligns incorrectly in practice and he is not immediately corrected, expect that player to incorrectly align during the game.  If you accept a lack of accuracy, expect the results of the game to result in a lack of accuracy.

Teach to the faster learner in order to create urgency among the brethren.  In school, every student every student deserves accurate teachings, taught from multiple learning styles; however, once you are building a competitive program, that theory becomes disastrous.  This is not a charity and coaches do not accomplish the task of communicating information.  Coaches are creating a culture and an expectation for his/her team.  The coach immediately sets the tone within the first minute of orientation.  Do you demand the best and create a culture of excellence or do you except mediocrity and let the weakest link define the strength of the chain?

Everyone says they want excellence; however, how many coaches are willing to get tough enough in order to advance about mediocrity.  No one enjoys this; however, this is necessary.  The process must be fair, transparent, and results based.  Within this process, learning is a three-step process.

I see (or hear) and I forget.

This refers to teaching with words or diagrams—telling a student what to do.  Based on empirical studies, only five percent (5%) of information delivered this way is retained and brings to the forefront a subtle point.  When coaches say to “cut at a 45-degree angle,” the player develops a visual picture of what this means in his mind; however, this picture is likely very different than yours. 

Abstraction is a very powerful tool for condescending and delivering knowledge.  Also, abstraction allows a tremendously-increased risk of miscommunication.  Think of how many times you hear the lyrics to a song and understood them to mean something very different than from what your friend does.  This abstraction has some very interesting uses, but it is a big liability in teaching specific physical techniques.

I see and I remember.

This refers to a skill actually demonstrated on video, or, better yet, by a teammate who “gets it.”  The actual performance of a skill contains a much richer vein of information than the abstraction of words or diagrams depicting the abstraction.

I do and I understand.

People learn best by doing.  This initially occurs at teach speed, which occurs during organized team activities during the summer.  Then, the action gets executed at game speed, full bore ahead, running the concept as many times as possible versus as many different situations until the concept is accurately executed with no frontal-lobe utilization. 

Leadership begins with example.  The area of improvement is everything.  Players and coaches will never fully arrive, and this is the key—to think that you have never arrived.

When you water bamboo in the first week, nothing happens.  Next, you water bamboo in the second week, nothing happens.  Then, you water bamboo in the third week, nothing happens.  If you water the bamboo in the fourth week, the bamboo grows 90 feet in six weeks.  The meaning is pretty clear.  Whatever it is that you do, you have to keep working hard, because you are building strong and resilient roots, which eventually possess a high payoff. 

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Question 3: When designing your game plan.  What considerations would go into your typical game plan? The game plan is being designed for a Friday Night Game (Home).

Answer: Every team we play is a nameless, faceless opponent.  Professionalism and execution win football games and emotion loses football games.  Offensively, the Triple Option is a built-in game plan.  Navy, Georgia Tech, and the Citadel spend less than one hour/week evaluating the other team’s film; however, they spend time correcting the errors made in their own team’s previous week’s film. 

We implicitly, procedurally condition our players to execute 96 offensive repetitions each practice versus every possible, realistic situation they could ever see.  This process starts the first day of training camp and carries through until the last practice of the season.  The Triple Option is always the game plan.  Navy had their best season in 53 years during the 2015 season so obviously the Triple Option as a built-in game plan works well.


When we practice Special Teams, the Punt is done versus a live, constant rush.  Kick Return is executed versus the Kickoff alignment, assignment, and technique that the opponent executed on film.  The Kickoff is done versus different alignments as we squib the football 100% of the time.  Field Goal is practiced versus an 11-man rush.  The Defensive Coordinator is responsible for preparing the Punt and Field Goal Block units during the week for the expected alignments of the opponent. In addition, we practice Hands Team (onside Kickoff team) for one live rep/week.

The Defensive Coordinator is responsible for preparing the defense for the top 20% of what the opponent has demonstrated on film.  The Pareto principle (also known as the 80–20 rule, the law of the vital few, and the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. While at the University of Lausanne in 1896, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto published his first paper “Cours d’économie politique.” Essentially, Pareto showed that approximately 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population; Pareto developed the principle by observing that 20% of the peapods in his garden contained 80% of the peas.  The Defensive Coordinator is responsible for practicing versus the top 20% of the successful concepts the opponent executes while maintain the program’s Defensive Philosophy as the following: Eliminate the verticals, set the edge, and penetrate.

So if you want to do things the right way the first time with the Triple Option, this is how you practice.


Dr. Lou Cella

Triple Option Football Academy Owner, Lou Cella

Dr. Lou Cella, is a Sport & Performance Psychologist, and a 20-year coaching veteran of the college and high school level.  

Dr. Cella assisted in the turnaround of numerous high school football programs through his triple option-based camp system. Just months after Dr. Cella served as camp director, Cashmere (WA) and Timmonsville (SC) went to the state semifinals, Bayfield (CO) went to the state championship game, and Falls City (TX) won their first regional and first state championship in school history.

Also, Corning (NY), Hereford (MD), Johnson (NJ), Lakewood (SC), Odessa-Harrington (WA), Petaluma (CA), Piedra Vista (NM), Poland (ME), Riverwood (GA), San Benito (CA), Seminole County (GA), and Temple City (CA) posted drastic turnarounds just months after Dr. Cella served as their camp director.

In 2015, Dr. Cella served as Head Football Coach at Montrose Area High School (PA).  During the 2015 season, Dr. Cella lead Montrose Area to their first 4-1 start since 1998, their best final winning percentage since 2002, as many wins as the previous six (6) seasons combined, and Dr. Cella was named Northeastern Pennsylvania Football Coach of the Year (NPF Sports).

Additionally, Dr. Cella has coached three current NFL players who have been drafted within the last two years.  In 2015, Kevin White (Wide Receiver) was drafted #7 overall by the Chicago Bears and Mark Glowinski (Offensive Guard) was drafted in the fourth round by the Seattle Seahawks.  In 2014, Lorenzo Taliaferro (Running Back) was drafted in the fourth round by the Baltimore Ravens.  All three players were coached by Dr. Cella as an offensive coach at the Junior College Level.  During Dr. Cella’s time at Lackawanna College, he coached the Running Backs, Tight Ends, Offensive Line, Defensive Line, Linebackers, and Defensive Backs.  In addition, Dr. Cella served as the Special Teams Coordinator and the Recruiting Coordinator for the winningest active Junior College Coach in the country, Mark Duda. 

Dr. Cella received his Doctorate of Psychology (Psy.D.), Sport and Performance Psychology Specialization from the University of the Rockies, and his mission is to lead the high-performance football environment through sports science and mental conditioning process-based practices.

Connect with Dr. Cella at 570.332.0265.