Coaches’ Corner with Kentucky’s Brian Green

This week in coaches corner we get baseball insight from Brian Green, Assistant Coach at University of Kentucky. Coach Green has coached at top tier colleges around the country including UCLA, Oregon State and now Kentucky.  We appreciate him stopping by for this extremely insightful look into college recruiting, how to get more playing time on a talented team, the biggest obstacles for college ballplayers, a must see YouTube video and more.

As always, the questions are geared toward helping you become a better ballplayer by understanding what coaches look for and ways to improve.

What advice would you give a HS ballplayer looking to get the attention of University of Kentucky?

In terms of getting the attention of the University of Kentucky Coaching Staff, I would offer 2 areas to attempt to create interest:

1) I would create a highlight video or send the best footage of the player in practice settings and then game footage. In the current recruiting climate, the best way to grab a coaches attention is to send video as we can access it quickly. It is very humbling to work at a place like UK where the sheer volume of emails expressing interest is high. The video is the number one thing we would want to see. If it is interesting enough, we can move to the next step in contacting the players coaches at their respective high schools to check on character and the academic profile.

2)      The second area would be sheer hustle. In a world of showcase environments where we are constantly evaluating “tools”, nothing grabs the attention of our staff more than a player who is working his tail off in a game setting. Those players that work hard in between innings, are invested to the team in the dugout, and show consistent “blue collar” or positive body language which affects others in a positive manner. If the tools and talent exist and you can match them with those traits, you have something there.

When you are recruiting position players, what are 3 things they can do to stand out?

Obviously it starts with talent. This is where the process begins from the college standpoint. Evaluating tools that can positively affect your program, with Speed and Athleticism being the constant trait that we hunt. In terms of the 3 things that position players can do to stand out from an evaluation standpoint:

  1. Perform when it matters. Nothing speaks to confidence more than when a recruit performs when all eyes are on him. It is the safest way to predict what the player would do in the college environment and particularly the SEC where you could be routinely playing in front of crowds in excess of 7,000
  2. I mentioned this earlier, but the makeup and character component. Constantly working in between innings regardless of position, demonstrating a passion and willingness to improve on a daily basis. This is what we are all as coaches constantly preaching, “showing up everyday” to work, grind and improve. This can be another positive predictor that the player will at some point perform at the next level, because his work ethic and desire to improve is in place.
  3. Getting Dirty and Being infectious with energy. Seeing players constantly talking on the field, or invested pitch to pitch on defense speaks volumes about their character.

Again it always starts with talent and the athleticism, the speed – power – arm strength – hit categories…..and when they are present or close and the above factors are seemingly in place- you have something there.

What would you say is the most difficult adjustment for freshman to make when transitioning to college baseball? And what can they do to adjust more quickly?

Clearly there are many adjustments for freshman entering into college baseball. All of the things that go with being a student athlete, with tutors, class schedules, weight training and Time Management, many of the experiences are new. The freshman entering college has gone from being “recruited” and is now expected to perform.

But the number one adjustment in my opinion is not the talent that they will face at a new level, or even the crowds that very likely they had never experienced, but the ability to handle adversity. The players that come into your programs are all the best of the best, and most likely have never experienced failure, and many of them experience setbacks. What can they do to adjust more quickly? The concept of playing the game 1 pitch at a time, whether it be in practice or games can be the answer. Constantly searching and working to improve on a daily basis can keep you positive and keep your mind where it needs to be….on the process of the game and of improving both physically and socially.

What’s the best way for an underclassmen to get more playing time on a talented team?

Be a Team Guy! Particularly when an underclassmen becomes a part of a talented or experienced team, there obviously is the chance to watch early on. When guys are invested in the dugout about the team and are constantly working to learn something when not playing, the decisions to play those players are much easier for the coach. And with regards to Team dynamics, nobody likes to sit the bench, but players can digest watching when others that get opportunities are “Team Guys”. So what’s the secret to playing even if there is a log jam? Work hard, be invested in the team, and when you get your opportunity (because it will come)….be prepared and stay with the process!

How would you define a winning ballplayer?

A winning ballplayer is the guy not only who you want the ball hit to, or at the plate when it matters, but is also the guy that will speak up when needed because he feels it is what is best for the team. There is no greater compliment than being called a winner, and the awesome thing about our game is that you can achieve that regardless of skill. Think of those hitters that you have coached or been teammates with, those guys who are willing to take the HBP, take pitches to drive pitch counts, or take pride in making productive outs for the good of the team. A winning ballplayer is a winning person. Someone who works, someone who cares, and someone who makes you tear up when they graduate. They make others around them better.

What do you think separates the good ballplayers from the great ones?

The separator from being Good to Great lies in the internal motor of the player. Think of all the “great” players that you have been around, and the constant is an unmatched work ethic. An internal drive to be the best. To be the best in the moment, the best for the weekend, the best for a season. The great ones bring it on a daily basis because they strive to achieve their potential. I think these players are constantly thinking about tomorrow today.

Who is the most talented player you have coached?

In terms of talent, there are really 2 players for that question. Brandon Crawford at UCLA and Chris Bisson here at Kentucky. Both players were extremely skilled, but both demonstrated a passion to be the best. Brandon had an incredible desire to be the best shortstop in the country. You have to check out the youtube of him doing infield “tricks”. It is incredible, but it shows his level of passion to defend at a high level.

Bisson was a Canadian player who hadn’t played much Baseball in his life, but was an incredible athlete. One of the quicker twitch players I have coached and he was also always working. Chris spent every day playing catch trying to have a lighting fast exchange.

Both supplied me with highlight reel defensive plays when I coached them and both were 4th round drafts. I hope to see them both in the Major Leagues someday.

What advice would you give to ballplayers out there who want to take their game to the next level?

Work your tail off on a daily basis and always find the positives in your game, while attacking areas that need to be addressed. Our game is a game of failure, but in wanting to take their game to the next level, understand that you always have an opportunity until the game tells you that you can’t play anymore. Given that, think about your future today. I tell our guys all the time, “Will you regret that you could have worked harder or given more when you are all done playing?”

Give it everything you have on a daily basis and when then game retires you, make yourself feel proud of your effort. I think that’s the only way to reach your full potential………and most importantly with that, the only goals and expectations that matter are those that you set for yourself. Take pride in knowing that you are in control of your future and career, it can be fuel for your daily efforts!

**Bonus Questions

What are the 2 books that have been most influential on your life? (doesn’t have to be baseball related)

That’s an easy one for me.

  1. The Winner Within by Pat Riley. My favorite book of all time. I grew up in Southern California as a monster Lakers Fan. I couldn’t wait to wake up and listen to Dick Stockton, Tom Heinson and Brent Musberger commentate the Lakers Celtics NBA Finals wars. The book is awesome. It takes you through a season with the club and is all coaching related. It is motivating, entertaining and insightful. I have taken many quotes and ideas from it.
  2. The Mental Game of Baseball by H.A. Dorfman. I read it for the first time as a player for Dennis Rogers in 1990 at Riverside Community College. I was blown away. I have probably read it over 20 times in my life and although a bit lengthy for today’s player (not enough pictures and sounds), it is the best book ever written on what goes on between the ears for a Baseball player.

Off the top of your head, what are 5 things on your bucket list? (ie. things you want to do, places you want to go, people you want to meet- before your time on earth is done.)

Well first off, I feel that I have been so fortunate as a person and a coach that maybe some of those things have already been crossed off……Having a wife and 2 daughters who light me up on a daily basis and getting the opportunity to work at the University of Kentucky in the SEC? I certainly take neither for granted and work hard daily to make sure that both are going well. But a short bucket list:

  1. OMAHA!  I had the opportunity to get to the Super Regionals in 07 while coaching at UCLA. Coach Henderson has been there twice. I hope to help him get there a 3rdtime!
  2. Go to Europe with my wife. Tour London, Paris, Brussels, Rome…All of it. Someday I hope to take her there
  3. Meeting Eric Clapton. Probably a stretch, but I love his music above all others. His music is always on when I am together with my Dad
  4. Play a Round of Golf with my Dad at St Andrews
  5. Have Christmas with the whole family wherever we live and my wife and I are Great Grandparents. Life would be complete.

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  • Billy B

    What a great interview with coach Green. He sounds like a great guy that’s been around a lot of great baseball. Sweet video of the Crawford guy also!

    • http://www.nextlevelballplayer.com Franco

      The Crawford video is awesome. What a talented infielder with great hands.

  • http://www.thenextlevelballplayer.com tstrick

    C-A-T-S CATS CATS CATS!!
    If the baseball team looks half as good as Cal’s Cats did against Ohio State last night, they’ll be in good shape.

  • MASON RAY CASTILE

    VERY IMPRESSED WITH KENTUCKYS COACHES . WOULD BE AN HONOR TO VISIT THIS COMPLEX. I WILL BE A SENIOR THIS YEAR,HAVE PLAYED BASEBALL ALL MY LIFE . MY TENTH GRADE YEAR I WAS ALL AREA,ALSO ALL STATE. THANKS MASON