Coaches’ Corner with UC San Diego’s Dan O’Brien

This week in Coaches’ Corner we get baseball insight from Dan O’Brien, Head Coach of DII powerhouse UC San Diego. Coach O’Brien was 2009 and 2010’s NCBWA National Coach of the year and is easily the winningest coach in the program’s history.  In 2010, Coach O’Brien’s Tritons made it to the National Championship game and set a school record for wins.

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

What advice would you give a HS ballplayer looking to get the attention of UCSD

First, you must be a good student to attend UCSD.  If you have a HS GPA around 3.5 or higher simply send us an email to baseball@ucsd.edu and we’ll help you decide if it’s a fit.  Showcases and camps obviously help.  Many players interested in UCSD take advantage of our HS Showcase camps that we offer throughout the year.

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

Make up, make up, and make up!  There are a lot of solid ballplayers out there with a lot of ability.  We’re looking for the guy that comes early, stays late, loves to be in the clutch situations and can’t wait to come through for his teammates, and pick them up on and off the field whenever he can.  Get a group of guys like that together and you can accomplish anything!

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

He needs to understand that HS Baseball is relatively easy, and that a lack of preparation prior to getting to the next level will hit you like a ton of bricks when you arrive.  Most of our freshmen think they’ve been working hard when in reality they don’t understand how hard you need to work to get ready.  Once they arrive, they also need to learn to slow the game down.  That takes time, but the game will be much faster.

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

Outwork and outplay those at his position.  If you’re in the right program, you will be rewarded for capitalizing on the opportunities given you.

Today, what are some of the biggest obstacles that keep college ballplayers from reaching their potential?

What’s going on between their ears. If everyone agrees that the game is 90% mental, then why don’t players and coaches spend more time on the mental game?  The mental game, in my mind, is without question, the difference maker for players, coaches and programs.

How would you define a winning ballplayer?

Can take a punch, and then another, and then another, and then make a play.  The ability to handle adversity is the key to success.  The game is about being consistent.

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

The great players grind it out the same way every day regardless of outcome.  They play the same if they’re up by 10, down by 10, in a slump or on fire.

Who is the most talented player you have coached?

The most talented players have never been my best players.  The player that I coached with the best “make-up” is Vance Albitz.  He was a leader and a winner.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to ballplayers out there who want to take their game to the next level?

Desire.  If you want it bad enough you will grind your way to success.  It’s also important to find the right fit.  You can grind it out all you want at the best program in the country and you may still get cut.  Find a fit and grind.

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  • Mark

    “Grind your way to success.” That’s a good way of putting it. Some people have that God given talent that carries them through, but the rest of us have to grind.