Inside the mind of a soccer scout

by James Dalton | Last updated

:: WHAT DOES SOCCER SCOUT LOOK FOR ::

A scout (in any sport) grade the players in a general category and in a position specific category, evaluating 4 pillars needed: technical qualities, tactical qualities, physical abilities and psychological qualities.
For soccer some aspects included in the evaluation are:

Natural Ability: Speed/Stamina, Reaction/Ability, and Strength/Coordination

Fitness: strength, speed, endurance, agility, quickness, coordination and balance

Technique and individual soccer skills: dribbling, throw-ins, passing/accuracy, tackling/defense, trapping/control, and heading. Ball control: shooting, receiving, fainting, etc.

Team Play: field sense/position, attitude/coachability, desire/hustle

Instincts and Intelligence: Intelligence is the ability to learn and retain what is taught in a football-classroom and film-grading settings, practice field and game-day adjustment setting. Instincts: is the ability to detect and adjust to game situations, adjustment and reaction under pressure.

Attitude: is the player disciplined or does he/she freelance and tend to do his own thing?

Mentality: overcoming and controlling stressful situations, self-confidence, being unaffected by “mind games”, focus, attitude, chemistry, conduct

Production: Not statistics but the skill-level and ability that creates the production. Why is he/she productive? Is the production due more to his/her ability and efforts or that of his teammates?

* SCOUTING DEFENDERS *

Full-backs – Defending
Providing cover and balance. Full backs tuck in when the ball is on the other side of the pitch or if the central defender has moved to an advanced position.
Deny penetration from wide areas. Show attacking wide player inside or outside?
Angle of recovery runs and tracking opponents.
Marking assignments. If the opposition has a “Go To Man”, a defender may be assigned to man mark this player in a more advanced position to deny possession.
Quality communication to goalkeeper, other defenders and midfielders.

Full-backs – Attacking
Provide width in the attack. Pass and move. Overlap wide midfield player or play in a more advanced position if the midfield play narrow.
Play as a wide player with or without the ball to unbalance opposition and push the opposition midfield in to more defensive positions.
Confident full backs will command the ball from the goalkeeper to set up fast break attacks, a pass from a full back will be more accurate than the goalkeeper kicking out of his/her hands.
Offer support from behind and in advance of the ball.

Central Defenders – When you are defending:
Work as a unit, providing cover and balance.
Win your 1 v 1 battle
Marking. Zonal, man-to-man or a combination of both.
Denying space, pressuring the ball.
Tackling. Controlled aggression, stay on your feet, don’t sell yourself.
Angles of recovery.
Decision making. When to tackle, when to try and pinch the ball, when to intercept, when to overlap, when to sit, when to tuck in.
Organizing the defensive unit. Most central defenders are captains; they are in a dominant position to see all the play in front of them. They can have an influence on the match by conducting the play.
Maintaining appropriate distances between the goalkeeper, defense, midfield and forward units.

Central Defenders – Attacking
Quick distribution, both short and long.
Set-pieces. In most cases the defenders will be the tallest / biggest players on the pitch, set plays provide defenders with goal scoring opportunities.
Confident central defenders will command the ball off the goalkeeper and make forward runs, often passing to the midfield and advancing beyond.
Central defenders who are confident of recovery and feel comfortable in possession often push into the midfield to overload the numbers.

HOW DO I GET A SCOUT TO WATCH ME PLAY ???

Scouts respond to several things:
1. Someone, a parent, a friend or even you might write to a pro club about you (assuming you are or a good player)

2. Scouts will turn up to Cup Finals or Semis.

3. Scouts are out every weekend, in all weathers, looking at games.

4. Big clubs like Manchester Utd, Leeds Utd, etc have Academies. Leeds Utd for example have holiday training weeks around the region, where any kid can go along (paying) At these holiday training camps, scouts are able to observe the talent of the players. Unfortunately, these soccer camps are not cheap.

5. Scouts attend close season small sided competitions. Don’t be surprised to see a scout show at your local 5 a side competition. Talented players can come from anywhere.

We hope we have given you some insight to catching the eye of the soccer scout as a defender.

Coming soon
* Scouting Attackers *

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