Pauly Dolinksy coaching Michael Scavuzzo in a one on one session focused on challenging for the soccer ball
Youth Soccer News: Coaching Spotlight on Pauly Dolinsky
As a youth player, Pauly Dolinsky was scouted and signed as a teen by the Dutch team Feyenoord Rotterdam. After Playing with Feyenoord and later SC Heerenveen in the Netherlands, Dolinsky returned to the USA. SoccerNation interviewed Dolinsky on his views on youth soccer, player development and what it was like to be identified as a 14 year old, signed to play pro so young and to play against Rafael van der Vaart and Wesley Schneider.
With a standing offer to join the Chicago Fire, former professional soccer player Pauly Dolinsky coaches future soccer stars in San Diego, a city rich in youth soccer talent and where he and his wife love to live. As a boy from the Midwest, Paul “Pauly” Dolinsky grew up living and breathing soccer. His father, John Dolinsky, played professionally and coached in the MISL.
SN: Why are you a coach?
Pauly Dolinsky: It's what I love, what I know and what I am best at.
Passion and love for the game inspires me. The amount of knowledge gathered in my professional playing career and the fact that I am a young coach enables me to relate very well to the players at a unique and special level. After all, I can remember ten years ago when I was a teenager and playing as a pro in Holland at Feyenoord and Heerenveen. I was scouted when I was 14 years old playing with the Midwest Region II youth soccer team at a tournament in Spain. I went off to Europe to train at 15 for two weeks with Feyenoord and was signed a few months later.
SN: What position did you play?
Pauly Dolinsky: Mid-Center. I was always involved in the play both offensively and defensively and felt that I really contributed to the team's success.
SN: When did you become a youth soccer coach?
Pauly Dolinsky: As a Chicago Fire reserve player, I became involved in the Chicago Fire Youth Soccer Program and discovered my appreciation for coaching. Teaching a child something new and helping a player master a technique and reach a new level of play has it's own rewards. I am motivated to help youth soccer players reach their potential.
SN: How would you describe yourself as a Coach?
Pauly Dolinksy: Fun, demanding and a great communicator. I think of myself as an educator of the game.
SN: What age do your train?
Pauly Dolinsky: Boys and girls of all ages. I am always striving to be a better coach and enjoy coaching a wide range of players. I am really a good coach for any age as long as the player is serious. The ages of U12 to U14 are critical for player development for the serious soccer player wishing to be identified and I have walked this road and can relate and really help these players.
SN: What were you like at this age?
Pauly Dolinsky: When I was 14 years old, I was playing soccer everyday of the week. My parents were driving 3 hours round trip to take me to practice three days a week. I slept with the soccer ball.
When I was younger, I played up. It forced me to do everything I knew how to at a faster pace. Whether it was passing the ball, dribbling, shootting or defending, playing against and with older players forces you to learn. My lack of size and strength, compared to those older, forced me to play 'bigger' than I was.
I strongly believe this prepared me for the European and U.S. National levels. Playing up increased the tempo and power of the game. It was an eye opening experience. I believe that playing up made the adjustment to the pro circuit much easier.
SN: How did it feel when you were identified and signed for a European pro contract?
Pauly Dolinsky: It was the greatest feeling in the world (next to getting married). My dream was coming true, I was living my dream. Everytime I stepped on to the field, I was always smiling. I was the happiest person out there.
SN: What was it like being a pro?
Pauly Dolinsky: It was everything I could have dreamt. I woke up and went to practice, I ate lunch then I went to practice, if I wasn't playing soccer, I was watching a soccer match. Game day was awesome, getting to the stadium three hours early to mentally and physically prepare was demanding and exciting. Playing in front of 65,000 soccer fans is the most fun, exciting 90 minutes one could experience. The competition and the atmosphere created by both players and fans made the great game even greater.
I hope some of my young soccer players will share this experience in their lives.
SN: What teams did you play against?
Pauly Dolinsky: Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and other Dutch Eredisie clubs. I also played games across Europe against Chelsea, Benfica, Lazio Roma, and Marseille.
I played against Rafael van der Vaart and Wesley Schneider who were at Ajax, as well as Arjen Robben who was at PSV Eindhoven and Robin van Persie at Feyenoord. Obviously I "liked" van Persie the most as he was my teammate, but I had an incredible amount of respect for all of them as they were and still are great players.
SN: What was it like when you first arrived in Holland, all alone?
Pauly Dolinsky: When I arrived in Holland, I was a young teenager. Not only was I a newcomer, and an American, but I was taking the spot of one of their friends. My 'teammates' would make jokes, tackle extra hard, play terrible passes to me and whenever possible, point blame in my direction...all things to make me look bad in the eyes of the coaches. The players tried to get me to react and make me look bad.
Fortunately I never broke and that really helped me gain the respect of my team. I also learned to understand the language in three months and could speak fluent Dutch within 6 months.
Understanding what everyone said helped put an end to the jokes. Before you knew it, I was one of them and that allowed my confidence to sky rocket and enabled me to concentrate on being the best player I could be.
SN: What is your training philosophy?
Pauly Dolinsky: Nothing gets left out on the field.
SN: What does that mean?
Pauly Dolinsky: Enjoy and cherish every moment, always be the best you can be.
Focus and concentration on the field is imperative. There are so many different things that can occur in a soccer game or practice, players must be constantly alert and aware of the events on the field. Players should always be aware of their surroundings because the best thing about soccer as compared to other sports is that it is unscripted. The game is always changing.
SN: Where did you learn your philosophy?
Pauly Dolinsky: I learned from everyone I could. I have had some great coaches. I was also fortunate to represent the United States Youth National Teams from U-14 thru U-20. I was captain of the U-18 team and learned al lot.
SN: Do you have any great stories?
Pauly Dolinksy: Many. On that U-18 team, we played Portugal in one tournament and Christiano Ronaldo was playing for Portugal at the time. Nobody knew much of him then, but he played a heck of a game against us and I am proud to say he didn't make me look foolish like we have seen him do to others in the past 5 plus years.
SN: How do you train? What are your player development sessions like?
Pauly Dolinsky: Whether its a private training sessions or a small group, I always assess the player(s) individual levels. I create customized programs based on where the player(s) need to improve and what they want to work on. It is great if I can talk to their club coach and disucss a plan for the players development and overall success. My goal is to always help the player get to the next level. Each session could be different. Parents and players should email me for more information.
SN: Where else have you played?
Pauly Dolinsky: When I returned to America, I first played for Indiana Blast and the Pittsburg River Hounds (USL - A League). I also began coaching summer camps at these clubs many years ago and realzied I really wanted to work with young players and help them develop and experience becoming a professional, if possible.