Every professional footballer either great or small has been scouted by one or two persons in their lives. There are people whose jobs are to find the next David Beckham or Wayne Rooney, no matter where they are hidden. Essentially, learning how to become a Football Scout could be a way to kickstart a rewarding career in football.
First and foremost, football scouting is a very competitive, yet rewarding field. The path is not fixed neither is it an easy journey.
Scouts will definitely find talented players the way miners search for gold, silver, oil, and every other special mineral. Who are these people and how can you be like them you ask? Well, you’ve arrived at the right doorstep where all your questions and doubts will be put to rest.
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Who is a Football Scout?
A football scout is a person who attends football matches on behalf of clubs to collect intelligence. Intelligence gotten is used to evaluate the talent of footballers with a view to signing them on professional contracts for their employers.
To become a football scout, it is important that you have a lot of (specialized) football knowledge. Knowledge can be seen as information plus experience, skills, and attitude.
These skills include; observing the game, improving tactical awareness, analyzing players individually and in a team. Other important skills are: how to judge talents’ behavior on and off the pitch, improve written communication to make up professional reports.
There is no specific way on how to become a football scout. However, you need to have a piece of background knowledge in football either as a player or coach. As a scout, you must have a good understanding of the various playing different positions and their requirements in a given player.
Why Do You Want To Become a Scout?
We ask ourselves different questions everyday especially when we want to make a life-changing choice. If truly want to become a scout you need to know your reasons and if they are strong enough.
For newcomers just getting started, there is still a long road ahead of you. Since there is a lot of competition, you may want to start as a volunteer at first, as most scouts around the world are volunteers.
Prepare yourself for adventure before you are able to make a living out of your passion to be a football scout. But, of course, with hard work and dedication, nothing is impossible. Please don’t be money-driven.
Now, let’s consider broad categories of Football Scouts.
Categories of Football Scouts
Old school scouts
Old school scouts are the same regular scouts that has always been in football since the beginning. They make reports with scribbled notes on what they see in potential players.
Unlike the modern day scouts they do not use digital equipment or analyses in their work.
There are different types of these scouts:
- Youth scouts: They stand on the sideline of youth games, at youth tournaments and academies.
- Senior scouts: They watch players, take notes, write reports to the decision-makers to improve their knowledge about the players.
Modern day Scouts
These types are mostly young, under 30 and are very influential. They make use of computers, mobile devices, apps and the internet.
Michael Calvin, the author of The Nowhere Men, a book that’s very informative about the scouting world, spoke of a “culture shift”. This shift occurred, with ‘old school’ scouts competing with ‘new school’ types.
Examples of this kind of scouts are;
- Data scouts: They do maths with statistics of players, goals scored, accuracy in passing, and expected assists. Through this, they scout outperforming players.
- Video scouts: They provide information on players through video auditions and assessments from various platforms.
Types of Football Scouts
Generally, scouts are divided into two groups: Talent scouts and Tactical scouts.
Sometimes, scouts have to change their focus depending on what the club needs or sometimes not all. Starting out, it would be helpful to lean towards one or the order.
As the name suggests, are those whose job it is to identify potential recruits and hopefully unearth a hidden gem. A tactical scout is usually tasked with analyzing a team and its tactics. They scout players for the specific purpose of a club signing.
Tactical scouts are every bit as important as talent scouts. They watch upcoming opponents by compiling every detail of their play, analyzing their strengths and weaknesses. They aim to find a tactical advantage to help their team prepare for upcoming matches. Without the opposition scout, winning in a team might prove to be hard.
Practical Steps on How To become a Football Scout
1. Take professional courses
There are a range of scouting football courses you can take to refine and polish your skills as a scout. Most are certified and offer a decent range of talent identification and opposition analysis modules.
One of the best UK and Overseas leading providers of scout training is the Professional Football Scouts Association (PFSA).
They work with veteran scouts to conceptualize and execute new and exciting ways of highlighting talent. At the end of the training, the PFSA also helps their students to find suitable clubs they can work in their area.
2. Build Contacts
The good thing about scouting courses is that they can connect you to people in the industry. Your qualifications alone will not land you a job in scouting.
Just like any other job, a good network of contacts will help you as a scout. Through your contacts, you can pick up information about promising players and talents to watch. It will also prove useful to fall back on when looking for a Job.
Scouting academies like the PFSA is one good way to build relationships with established scouts. You can also learn some tips and get a detailed understanding of what is necessary to make it in the industry.
Building a relationship with other scouts, agents and maybe even specific players can only be beneficial.
Read good scouting books/materials As an aspiring scout, you should have read your way through a good number of detailed books about scouting. You need insight on how the field works and how you can turn it in your advantage.
There is no one way to be a scout but the knowledge in books can make a way for you. Most are filled with detailed information on how the industry works. We recommend Michael Calvin’s award-winning book The Nowhere Men, it sheds light on the world of scouting.
3. Be Prepared To Work Hard
Long hours are also inevitable in the world of football scouting. It is a way of life, a commitment to unfriendly hours, and chilly nights watching sometimes uninspiring football.
The profession is driven by the love of the game, and that pure love of football has to be there to succeed as a scout. Scouts must have a steeliness and an inner belief in their judgement. It wont always be easy, or even just.
Like we have mentioned, there is a culture shift in football scouting. Things have changed so much that the football scouts don’t need to write the classic old notes anymore.
Data analysis is now taking a major role in recruitment, and scouting has had to adapt. It would be wise for you to become a scout that can combine both skills.
4. Publish Your Work
Applying for scouting positions is a lot easier if there’s a track record of your reports. Communicating your work is a key part of the job.
There’s no use picking a player out if you cant explain what you saw, what impressed you and what you think they need to work on.
Scout reports can take many different forms. They are a skill to be practiced, and this should be done constantly as you look to make a name for yourself.
Running a blog or getting a website to publish your analysis can be a great way to get exposure. It’s not only a means to hone your skills, but it can help you to develop a reputation and an audience, and perhaps get spotted by a club.
The routine of getting reports to a standard so they can be published is a productive, too. Its a means to keep standards high, and a way to prove to potential employers what you can do.
It’s not a necessity, but there’s a growing number of scouts and analysts who excelled because they published their work online. Anything that can get your insight noticed can help make the step from hobbyist to professional football scout.
Demands of Being a Football Scout
Scouts are expected to travel distances to do their jobs. It could be to cover games and assess players’ abilities. They are usually assigned regions to cover in their locale or country.
2. A DBS Check
DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) was formerly known as a CRB check. Football scouts must complete an application before they are able to work with children.
In some countries this might not be so. However, scouts who work internationally will need to have this document before they scout teenagers.
3. Preparing Reports
Writing well-detailed reports on players will determine how well you know your stuff. The players have done their part selling themselves to you. This is your time to sell the players to your club.
Good reports should include teamwork, Player personality, Player mentality, and Training attitude. This will be the first contact between players and clubs.
With your report, clubs are able to compare any new talent against current players. This allows them to compare their ability and development areas.
4. Perform a Background check on players
Most clubs do this themselves but you can help them do this to save the stress. As a scout, if you bring players with dubious backgrounds, chances are that they won’t be signed and you won’t get paid. So wouldn’t it be better to make sure that you get paid and that your leads are right?
Doing this makes it easier for clubs to know if players are the right fit or not. It will also give club managers a good perception of your capabilities as a scout. They will also value your reports, decisions, and insights on players.
How much do Football Scouts Earn?
According to Glassdoor, a football scout in the United Kingdom earns approximately £20,000 per annum. But the truth is that there is a lot of variation within the industry.
Football scouts earn different salaries depending on a variety of factors, including the stature of the club they work for and the specific role they carry out.
Of course, Football Clubs reward scouts if a player analyzed and recommended signs for the club.
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How Old Do I Have To Be A Professional Football Scout?
You have to be at least 18 years old in order to be a professional football scout. You also need to have a good understanding of the game. It is not bad to start early in building your career as well as a network of contacts to better your chances in the playing field.
What Football Scouts Lookout For In Players
Lots of scouts work closely with clubs or freelance between them. This doesn’t change their abilities in doing their jobs. As a scout, you should have your own or follow the dictates of what the club needs in players.
Clubs might have their specific interests but when clubs don’t have one, you can use your own requirements.
For beginners we suggest you read up the Talent Identification Model created in 1998 psychologist Jane Davidson and Michael Howe. The book sheds light on the basic knowledge of The Five Multidimensional Properties for Talent Identification.
You also need to earn position-specific scouting for full backs, left backs and goalkeepers.
A good quality you should look out for is the Ball mastery and Technical ability skills. Do they have good techniques and ability to carry out skills like passing, dribbling, shooting, tackling and heading? Although the importance of each skill varies according to position, a decent touch or technical ability will certainly be noticed.
Players who are fast and Agile are mostly promising players and scouts tend to look out for them. It’s also good to have young players who have perfected their sprinting technique.
As a scout, you also need to look at their strength. Clubs at times can reject players because they are weak. Players who are communicative and show excellent leadership abilities are gold. Coaches love having these types around because these players tend to carry everyone along.
They are the best bet for implanting gameplay and mostly grow to become team captain. Players who have a vision of where to move and how to pass even before the ball gets to them are also gold. Footballers are a lot of things and you need to watch out for all those things.
How To Kick Start Your Journey as a Football Scout
There are a lot of people and companies who are in need of specialized football knowledge. Football has become an enormous industry with a lot of shareholders.
You can seek out football clubs on an amateur, semi-professional and professional levels for both youth and senior levels. Or you can work at national football federations to pick the best talents in their country. For the national (youth) teams or national development programs.
There are more options in this world of football for scouts. You can work with:
- Data companies that are gathering information during games and write about players.
- Social Media channels, podcasts, etc. you can be featured on programs that enlighten viewers on the next big stars in football.
- Commercial football parties are also one of the best places to be. Brands like Nike and Adidas are looking for the next world star to use as advertisements. And guess what? You may have just found them!
- Football games will not have such great databases without their scouts. Football Manager, FIFA, and PES constantly need knowledge from a lot of football scouts around the world to build up their databases.
- You can volunteer as a football analyst for tv, newspapers, or internet websites.
Starting out as a scout might require you to work as a volunteer still you need to ask yourself: Am I willing to invest in myself?
If YES is your answer, then congratulations! You’ve just passed your first test on becoming on scout. The road ahead is tedious and you need all of your focus to get through to your goal.
You are going to get paid of course but only when people begin to value your insights and decisions. Volunteer work also gets you to build up relationship and experience. Get ready for whatever comes your way.
This is why you need to do this not just for the money but for the game of passion!
Now, with this piece, you no longer need to wonder how to become a football scout. You have the most important knowledgebase to start with if you want to pursue this career.
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