Friday, April 5, 2013
The Blueprint According To...Chuck Bales
According to his bio on the Moraine Valley Community College website, Bales has been involved in soccer for more than 25 years as player and coach. He has an advanced national coaching diploma from the National Soccer Coaching Association of America, and is a Certified Periodization Planning Specialist through the Tudor Bompa Training Systems.
The reason I chose Chuck to kick this feature off, however, doesn't lie in his achievements but rather in his Twitter updates. You see, Chuck fires out links to a whole range of articles which might not all be directly about football but which all contain significant pointers for anyone looking to help others reach their potential.
Here then, is his blueprint...
Blueprint for Football: Let's start with the basics: what got you into coaching and how long was that?
Chuck Bales: I started coaching in 1994 as an assistant coach at the college I still coach and teach at, Moraine Valley Community College. In 2000, I took over as the head coach and have been head coach ever since. I have done a bit of coaching at local soccer clubs, but my college schedule greatly hampers the amount of time I can devote to this.
I got into coaching as a frustrated player that had seen my playing days come and go. I was always a keen observer of pro soccer from the continent, watching German and English soccer while I was growing up in Miami, so I was always interested in styles of play and how the game "should be played". I was also just starting as a college instructor and saw coaching as a way to stay active and be involved with extra-curricular college activities. As I started to study soccer and coaching, in general, I found that there is great depth to the field, from the tactical, technical, physical, and mental side, and also saw direct parallels to what goes on inside the classroom and vice versa.
BfF: What project are you working on at the moment?
CB: I found out early on that you will never know all there is to soccer coaching and a coach must be in constant learning mode to keep pace. There is so much tactically, technical, physically, and psychologically to understand and apply that it is truly a never-ending task.
I currently am trying to get my head around tactical periodization and defining and developing a style of play which will act as the basis from which a complete playing and training curriculum can be developed. I see glimpses of a Grand Unification Theory in this approach and I am trying to get all the pieces laid out so that I can start assembling them in order to begin to implement it at the start of the next season in August.
I am very interested in optimizing the training experience for the players. What tactical, technical, and physical elements are required in a training plan in order to play in a certain style? What is the frequency, dosage, progression, and order for each element? What are the "best" exercises in order to imprint the desired playing style in the team? What is the most efficient and effective method to achieve the objectives? It is the same questions I ask myself in the classroom when I am preparing to teach a course or am preparing a new curriculum.
BfF: What is your coaching philosophy?
CB: My philosophy has always been developmental and technical, focused on quick tempo passing on the ground, using width and speed, high pressure defending or defending in blocks (zone). As an early supporter of Ajax, I always liked their philosophy of playing an entertaining game that is fast and free-flowing but technically strong.
I have always focused on passing and control and we traditionally spend a great deal of time in various passing drills at the college. My experience and ability to develop a tactical style is constantly growing and getting more complex, detailed and nuanced.
BfF: You tweet a lot of links to articles that are from various areas - including management - and not just football. In what way does it help a coach to look outside his direct circle of reference?
CB: First of all, training and coaching a soccer team, at any level, is, at its foundation, about teaching and managing groups of (young) people. By broadening our scope of understanding, reading, and influence, we can open our eyes to new ways of seeing problems and issues that we are confronted with in our own specific areas of concern. We can see things from a different light or from a different angle that provide new ideas and spark periods of creativity. By making analogous connections to other fields we can discover solutions to problems that confounded us before.
If we broaden our scope of experience, we can increase our knowledge and understanding in our specific field, enabling us to think "outside of the box" more easily and in a much more purposely and productive manner. I find great insight from studying business management, engineering, academic teaching, and other types of training including musical. This increases my depth of understanding for coaching soccer. It makes me a better soccer coach. It improves my ability to teach and train my team, which, in turn, benefits my players.
It also keeps me thinking, learning, and looking for the next new idea or concept that is going to help me to improve my players. Perfection is something you should always pursue, but will never attain. Once you give up and say "That's good enough" then you are done and should quit coaching. Instead, after every training session, and every season, you should say "That wasn't good enough" and dissect everything you did in order to rebuild for next season. This dissection and rebuilding process is only possible through a constant and continuous search for answers.
BfF: What do you prefer: a talented player who doesn't value work or a hard-working but not as talented player?
CB: Nihil sine labore (Nothing without work) - Sign over Sir Alex Ferguson's office door.
I want nothing to do with anyone who doesn't value work. The person that doesn't value work will never progress. Never get better. Never overcome obstacles.
I would always take a hard-working but not as talented player because they will learn, improve, and progress. They will also be a valued influential member of a team.
BfF: If you could change one thing about football in your country, what would that be?
CB: The proper development of soccer players will only occur if there is incentive to do so. This will only occur if we have more teams in MLS and the players earn more money. This will only happen when the population starts to watch more soccer on TV, thus increasing league and team revenue.
So, if I could only change one thing about football in the US, it would be to make more people watch and love the game.
The Blueprint According To... is a monthly feature looking at youth football coaches and the philosophies that drive them. Read more on the Blueprint for Football newsletter.