Danny O’Rourke on the Transition from Athlete to Coach

Danny O’Rourke has seen soccer from the vantage point of both athlete and coach.

After playing collegiate soccer at Indiana University – where he played 83 games, who back-to-back National Championships and the MAC Hermann Trophy – Danny had an 11-year MLS career.

In the early years of his career as a professional soccer player, Danny was immediately esteemed as one of the bright young prospects at midfield and later won two MLS cups, in addition to being a three-time Supporter’s Shield champion.

Today, Danny is back at Indiana University as an assistant coach to give back to the Indiana Hoosiers.

Currently in his third season, Danny has helped the team win back-to-back Big Ten Conferences and regular season championships.

And along his journey from soccer player to coach, Danny has picked up some of the most important lessons a coach can learn.

Danny joins me today to share his experiences as a collegiate and professional soccer player and how he transitioned to his role as Assistant Coach at Indiana University.

He highlights the differences between playing soccer at the collegiate and professional levels, and he underscores the importance of filtering through the wealth of knowledge in today’s world and having different tools in your toolbox.

He also discusses what he attributes his career success to and explains how the role of physical preparation evolved throughout his career as an athlete and coach.


Every individual is unique; you can’t just have one approach to every athlete. Look at how they are as a person, then think about how you can relate defense and tactics to them. – Danny O’Rourke


This week on the Physical Preparation Podcast:

  • Danny’s career in professional soccer and his transition to coaching in the world of physical preparation
  • What his views on weight training were while he was playing at the high school and collegiate level
  • Finding the perfect balance between being an authority and being an athlete’s friend
  • How Danny changed his physical preparation to maintain his growth as a player at the professional level
  • How being around better players pushes you to become a better athlete
  • The value of learning to enjoy the training process and avoiding perfectionism
  • Mentors that stood out in Danny’s career
  • The importance of having an individual approach to training athletes
  • Lessons from Danny’s time in the private sector
  • The hardest part about transitioning from athlete to coach
  • How the world of physical preparation can continue to evolve and develop
  • Danny’s career highlights as a coach and athlete
  • The benefits and importance of taking time off and enjoying downtime


Connect with Danny:


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