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Youth Girls Apr 11, 2012

SoCal Blues’ Draluck has changed coaching ways, found success

By Jimmy LaRoue

Southern California Blues SC program director Larry Draluck has evolved as a coach.

Draluck, a nationally licensed U.S. Soccer Federation “A” level coach who helped start the South Pasadena High School girls’ soccer team in 1984 and SoCal Blues in 1990 (with the origins of the club dating back to 1985), used to be more traditional in his coaching methods, and got caught up in the competitive atmosphere of youth soccer.

In an exclusive interview with The Soccer Wire earlier this month, Draluck said he used to have trouble getting through to his players, until he learned they were lacking something that he wasn’t providing them. Under the influence of fellow Blues program director Tad Bobak, Draluck started to reevaluate his coaching methodology.

“My players weren’t able to execute what I was talking about,” Draluck said. “And I had [Bobak], a Brazilian guy, been all over the world in soccer, seen tons of World Cups, and he came to my game and said ‘Larry, you’re teaching a bunch of players who don’t have skill.’ I took a step back and I said, ‘What do you mean they don’t have skill?’”

Bobak told Draluck his players didn’t have the ability to feint and fake. That summer, Draluck worked on having individuals hold possession of the ball – the Coerver method.

“What I noticed is that my players had more time on the ball,” Draluck said. “And when they had more time, they didn’t rush and they didn’t panic and pass the ball to players that weren’t open.”

He’s helped build a relationship between Blues and Mexican heavyweights Pumas UNAM, whose coaches have helped Draluck and his staff develop their players’ the ability to receive the ball, giving them the time to make their own choices versus having the ball force them into poorer decisions.

As a goalkeeper, Draluck played with Martin Vasquez – currently a U.S. Men’s National Team assistant coach under Jurgen Klinsmann – in college at Cal State Los Angeles on a team that went to the Division II national championship game in 1981 and held the no. 1 ranking during the season, falling 1-0 in the national championship game to Tampa. Draluck was later named Cal State L.A.’s coach after being an assistant for four years while coaching at South Pasadena.

He played in Mexico for about 18 months with Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara, better known as Tecos, then returned to California and finished his degree in physical education at Cal State L.A. after the club sold his player card to San Luis Potosi.

At the time, Draluck wasn’t focused on coaching girls’ soccer, but started up the South Pasadena High School girls’ soccer program in 1984.

Soon after the formation of the Blues, Bobak arrived from UC Santa Barbara.

While he says he loses plenty of games, and it hurts him, “the only regret I have is the tension the parents have because they didn’t win. They didn’t appreciate the beauty of the game.”

“There’s nothing better than helping the kids,” Draluck said.

He said he has changed as a coach.

“I was a bad coach,” Draluck said. “I wasn’t good when I started. Now, I tell funny stories, I get a good rapport with the kids, hopefully pick players that … are competitive people, and they have some athleticism.”

[ +Read more of Draluck’s fascinating perspectives on the youth game in his full Q&A with TSW ]

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