#2 How do I get scouted and impress scouts in football?
I work as a football scout for a professional club in Scotland and also provide player information for club...
You have to play in the best team you can for your age in your area - a side that scouts keep tabs on.
It is no good being a star in a poor team. Scouts will want to evaluate your ability and potential based on an appropriate level of competition.
It is an interesting question and not straightforward to answer. If I am writing a team or indeed a player report, I will see strengths and weaknesses are they relate to the way the player's team want to play.
So I might notice a specific detail first - speed, size, agility - as you say, and then I'll be looking to confirm my preconceptions or prejudices about a player if I have seen him before. If it is a first time view I will want to be able to satisfy myself I can describe who and what he is to my manager.
In one sense everyone can see the effects of height, weight, speed and agility. But the scout hones in on body language in success and adversity, a players rapport with his teammates when they score or concede, whether the player plays for himself or the team, whether he is brave in possession or meek. When he fades in games and when he thrives. How the team's set up helps and hinders him and how he might fare in different circumstances and in a different team.
A lot of the time you are comparing players to archetypes of players and situations you've seen over and over again, thousands of times.
I am usually painting a picture/concocting a plan to help my team beat their team next week rather than looking at signing targets specifically.
So some of that Next Opponent Report role is about building confidence ("where we are bettter is....."). Some of it is counselling caution ("we'll lose if we play like this."). Much of it is factual reporting. Some observations are brutal and dismissive because that is the function that's required. At times reports are very generous to players who are failing.
A player report is about the player but also about how he’d fit into the culture of the club, the manager’s preferred style of play and preferences in terms of player types. Look at the first team and you’ll see the types of players that a scout from that club is likely to recommend.
I learned to watch games by osmosis through having access to the 1990s archive of the great Leeds scout John Barr for a short time. He and he had a wonderful economy of style, an ability to sum up a player in a phrase or brilliant observation of a tic no-one else will have noticed. I always think 'how would John Barr sum this player up?'
For instance there's a player I watch regularly who is a charismatic but toxic character, a midfielder who operates on the principle that his interests are always best served by his private undermining of more selfless teammates in the dressing room and by lots of empty gesturing on the field. And yet he has hoodwinked his last two managers into believing he is a model pro and leader material. But once you know his modus operandi it really is quite amusing to watch. Another wide player I used to watch faded badly whenever he had home fans on the same side of the pitch as him and only really came into his own when stationed on the opposite side of the field.
So, in short I'd say that what most fans see in black and white, a decent scout will see in colour. Those with blessed eyes see everything and in high definition too.
As an aside I would say that first impressions are usually correct. Three views will give you a very good sense of a player but there is also a danger that you can watch a player too often within a short span of time, thus creating a mess of largely negative impressions. Most players don't improved with repeated viewing - it is just the case that their flaws become more apparent to the detriment of their strengths. There is a lot to think about and you never know what you are going to see for sure.
The rare attributes are the ones that can take you far: pace, vision, game awareness, mental strength, technique but to one degree or another they have to be allied to athleticism.