FSU Coach Mark Krikorian Shares Thoughts on How Players Stand Out

In recognition of Florida State's third consecutive ACC Championship, we are posting this interview with 2014 NCAA Champion coach, Mark Krikorian, that we featured in our inaugural issue of Amplified Soccer Athlete. Discover Amplified Soccer Athlete magazine and subscribe today.

Florida State’s national champion women’s soccer coach Mark Krikorian was pretty certain that Kristin Grubka had what it took to play at the next level.

“She was always consistent,” said Krikorian, who led FSU to the 2014 NCAA Division I women’s title and the last four College Cups as well as seven College Cups in his first 10 years.

“Sure [Grubka] had size, but she never took plays off.  She is a winner and she is selfless.  We could see that when we watched her and we knew she would help us win at Florida State.”

Based on his track record, it’s clear Coach Krikorian knows what to look for and he shared some of his tips for young soccer players who aspire to play at the next level.

Amplified Soccer: What do athletes need to do on their own to prepare to play at the highest level?

Coach Krikorian:  They have to have good habits on and off the field.  They need to take care of their body.  They need to have a competitive spirit and mentality and never take plays off … always be consistent in their effort.  Make no mistake; they have to have talent … that goes without saying … but proper habits, fire and consistency must always be there.   

Amplified Soccer: What characteristics do you look for in potential recruits?

Coach Krikorian:  Certainly athletically they need to stand out.  From there, I am looking for a ‘thinking player’ … a smart player who possesses good technique. We look at the entire package: athleticism, psychology … what they do on the ball, how they apply information that is given to them.  We want players that will apply the information we are giving them – really important that they can think and solve problems … this especially shows during tough, physical games … how they handle situations and find solutions on their own.

Amplified Soccer: What makes a player stand out to you at showcase events?

Coach Krikorian: The easy thing to spot is their athletic quality.  We can see that especially in goalkeepers and forwards.  Those players are, perhaps, easier to find and stand out.  What we look for are players that show some versatility.  The ability to play in different positions.  Much like Kristin Grubka, we look for players that are willing to sacrifice their body at times.   If a kid is versatile, consistent, leading, being vocal with a purpose, we will notice them.

Amplified Soccer: Is there any recurring theme among the best players you have coached? 

Coach Krikorian: The recurring theme is flexibility in play … the ability to have versatility … to be a flexible thinker … to not have just one idea.  A lot of kids get programmed to go out and do the same thing every time … for me that’s a weakness in the American game and the youth game.  The best players I have coached know how to go out and win a game … they have the ability to solve problems and find different solutions.  Also the best players don’t want to lose … they want to win every game, every 50-50 ball, every moment.   Those players make everyone better around them.

Amplified Soccer: What is your advice to young teens looking to get noticed by college coaches?

Coach Krikorian: Make sure you communicate – if you don’t know how to reach coaches and schools ask questions to find out how.  Make sure you get the word to the coaches that you want to play at the next level.  I encourage players to get on campus and visit.  Spend time with the coaches and the players.  Understand the culture and how that suits you.  The cultures of teams vary greatly.  Going back to my initial message, with all of this, you still need to remember that coaches are always watching so on the field make sure you are CONSISTENT in your effort – don’t think you can go out on any certain day and not put in the effort – bring a good attitude and a competitive spirit and to repeat, I believe winning and losing should matter. 

Amplified Soccer: Who are some of the best role models in the game right now for young athletes?

Coach Krikorian: Rachel Van Hollebeke (formerly Buehler) has been a fantastic pro – she might not be in the first group right now for the USA but she is just a wonderful young woman and player … she gets everything out of her body every time … she overachieves in every area – she is always prepared as she could be – in recovery and in all of the different areas of the game.  [England’s] Kelly Smith through her play was a fantastic role model and ambassador for the game … Kassey Kallman, who played for me, is a leader and a fighter, old school throw back kind of kid with a great mentality.  There have been a lot of great models here at Florida State the past ten years … Becky Edwards, Kim McCarty to name a few.