Well known San Diego Soccer Coach Mario Mrakovic gives us some feedback based on his 16-year coaching experience.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is your experience as a player?
Mario Mrakovic: I have been a part of FC Zagreb, Dinamo Zagreb, Tekstilac and the SD Sockers
Diane Scavuzzo: What team(s) are you currently coaching?
Mario Mrakovic: I am coaching the Surf BU7, BU8 and GU7 teams and run the Grassroots program/Youth Development, which includes players’ ages 4-8 years old. I also run SD Futsal.
Diane Scavuzzo: Who were the coaches you played under/coached with who shaped your style of coaching? What did they teach you?
Mario Mrakovic: My father was the most influential coach for me. He had a laid back style with me and always wanted me to figure things out on my own. He never over-coached me. He taught me to understand the game and understand how the other players think and to use it to my advantage.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is your style of coaching?
Mario Mrakovic: My style of coaching is teaching, not coaching. I have the kids learn soccer technique, rather than practice skills.
Diane Scavuzzo: Who are the players you are particularly proud of on or off the soccer field?
Mario Mrakovic: I am proud of the players that got cut by the coaches, players that nobody believed in, players that never got a fair chance, who bounce back stronger on the field through dedication and perseverance.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you look for in a player?
Mario Mrakovic: Guts, heart and hard work mentality. I like players that smile, have positive energy and show passion.
Diane Scavuzzo: What advice would you give to any player looking to become a professional soccer player? What advice would you give to parents?
Mario Mrakovic: Find a technical soccer program that teaches you step-by-step all the things that the game entails. It is all about proper technical executions. Watch soccer as much as you can and pay attention to details. Find the best soccer teachers, clubs and camps to help you enhance your game. Spend as much time as possible with a ball.
Diane Scavuzzo: Your team is playing for the championship title and they are down by three at the half. What do you say in your halftime pep talk?
Mario Mrakovic: There is no doubt that we will come back to tie and win this game – one goal at the time.
Diane Scavuzzo: Who is your favorite professional soccer player?
Mario Mrakovic: This one is a no brainer – Lionel Messi.
Diane Scavuzzo: If you could, would you change anything about soccer what would it be?
Mario Mrakovic: All the coaches that train kids from the earliest stages to age 14 would need to pass a strict coaching test requiring them to be able to demonstrate themselves and the proper technical demands such as ball control, passing, dribbling, shooting, etc.
They would need to prove that they know to show properly the soccer technique to the kids. Only if they are able to do that, they would be given the younger age groups. Otherwise, they would need to coach/train only 15-year olds and older where the emphasis is more on tactics.
A coach with poor or no soccer technique should not be teaching soccer at early age, as much as school teacher with poor writing, reading and comprehension skills should not be teaching kids at early age either.