We are going to look at what scouts look for in soccer players when they are scouting them. Scouts are talent identification specialists and they are often the first point of contact for any soccer player before they are recruited into an academy system. The scouts are usually headhunted by academies and provided with a blueprint of qualities and traits to look for. In this article, we discuss what scouts are looking for.
What do soccer scouts look for in a player? They look at the player’s technique in terms of the skills required to play the game. They observe the player’s game intelligence, do they make good decisions under pressure? Physicality, in terms of how well a player moves and gets around the pitch, and finally personality in terms of attitude, effort, and commitment.
What are Soccer Scouts looking for?
Scouts are looking for qualities or traits that stand out in a player. Something will catch their eye, a change of speed, an excellent save, a clever pass, a dribble, a clever finish. Once the scout’s attention has been grabbed and they are drawn to a player and they will observe them a little more closely. especially on
The scouts will usually look at the technical and physical qualities that the player possesses and check for consistency in performing them. They are checking if the strong performance from the player was a one-off or if it is a regular occurrence. Once a player has been identified they will often be observed up to three times and usually by more than one scout.
Observing players more than once and with different scouts helps an academy to clarify decisions in terms of inviting a player to attend some extra coaching sessions with players who have also been identified as talented or bypassing that stage and inviting a player straight into an academy on trial.
Find below a summary of key attributes and skills a scout might be looking for when observing a player:
Size, shape, of player and parents to look at future potential growth
Ability to protect and shield the ball
How they use changes in speed
Box to Box running with and without the ball
Mistake management (losing the ball, technical errors)
Dealing with setbacks (winning and losing)
Effort and Commitment (Consistency)
Emotional control (mood swings)
Attitude and Behavior (On and off the field)
Confidence to keep at it
Communication (leadership skills)
Size, shape, of player and parents to look at future potential growth
Ability to protect and shield the ball
How they use changes of speed
Box to Box running with and without the ball
Personality (are they a good person)
Friendships (who do they spend time with)
Relationships (are they respectful to coaches, referees, etc)
Ability to listen and learn
What are Soccer Scouts Looking for in a Goalkeeper?
Physicality: This is the one position where physicality might be a determining factor, especially in age groups when the goal size changes from small to medium goals or medium to large goals. The scouts need to see the potential to grow and reach a size that will allow them to dominate the goal or a box.
Agility and reaction time are also important qualities, the goalkeeper needs to be agile to get down to the floor and make saves and react quickly to snapshots from opponents.
Distribution: The modern goalkeeper must be good with their feet. They must be able to help build attacks, and be a spare player behind the ball to maintain possession. Kicking over different distances is important so playing into midfield or beyond the halfway line is something that scouts want to see you have the potential to do.
Handling: Throwing, catching, and saving are three things scouts like to see goalkeepers do well. They will look at how the goalie performs these things in games when there is limited pressure on them and they will look at these qualities when the pressure is more intense. They are checking if they are consistent in their actions.
Key Qualities and Skills
Bravery: The goalie must be brave to stop powerful shots, compete in the air for crosses, get down at the opponent’s feet and try to collect the ball, or just do anything they can to stop the ball from hitting the net. Brave in terms of playing out from the back or having the ball back to feet after they have made a mistake. These are some clear examples of what scouts often look for in this position.
Communication: How well does the player communicate? Do they help the surrounding players? are they vocal with praise or feedback to help others around them? This is a real standout quality in goalkeepers and if they do it well it is certainly a trait scouts will notice.
What are Soccer Scouts Looking for in a Defender?
Technical and Tactical: The ability to have and receive the ball to start attacks. confidence to carry the ball up the field until pressure arrives then finds the spare player. A range of short and long-passing skills. They will be good 1 v 1 defenders and will be able to win back the ball efficiently without giving away needless fouls. Fullbacks will be required to join in attacks and create scoring opportunities.
In games, they will make good decisions of when to mark players and when to cover space. They will anticipate the next actions of opponents well by being in the right place at the right time to win back the ball.
Physicality: Defenders are often tall, mobile players who can change direction well and can use their bodies to win back the ball, intimidate attackers or outrun them. Central defenders often rely on size and strength to dominate opponents whereas fullbacks may rely on speed and changes of direction to outrun the opponent or intercept the ball.
Psychological: Defenders first and foremost should have a good mentality to defend. They should love the challenge of a 1v1 duel or be committed to winning back the ball even when it is not in their favor. Confidence with and without the ball is an important quality for defenders to possess. They must be willing to have the ball regardless of the game circumstances or have the confidence to track a player into their half.
Emotional control is another aspect that scouts look for in defenders. They need them to be confident following mistakes but not reckless in tackles or fouls. Losing control at the wrong time can lead to needless fouls, free kicks, or penalties or even worse being sent off. The ability to manage emotions is something scouts will often observe in players.
Social: Vocal defenders will stand out, if they lead and communicate well people will notice. Ideally, the information provided by defenders needs to be helpful to players. Scouts will look at how players respond and react to instructions from the coach. They will check how well these players respond to the referee’s decisions.
What are Soccer Scouts Looking for in a Midfielder?
Technical and Tactical: Midfielders have excellent receiving skills under pressure that give them time on the ball or open up options to combine with teammates. Ball retention is another vital skill for players in these positions, especially in central areas. Scouts will look at the type of midfielder, are they a ball winner, a ball retainer, or a creator?
Wide midfielders stand out when they dominate 1v1 duels. This quality really standouts out. Midfielders are often tasked with creating and setting up chances so the end product following a 1v1 success to provide through balls, crosses, or shots is desirable.
Scanning and game intelligence are important aspects of midfield positions, knowing the next pass or where the pressure is coming from demonstrates composure. The best players scan before the ball arrives and scouts will notice this trait. Game intelligence refers to game management, such as knowing when to dribble, pass, switch, etc. Good midfielders make consistently good decisions.
Other Qualities Scouts Look For
Physicality: Midfielders need to have good levels of fitness to make box-to-box runs for long periods of a game. Changing direction quickly and changes of speed are helpful to players in these positions. Movements to lose markers or find space are something that will catch the eyes of scouts, they will see what you are trying to do.
Psychological: Determination, effort, and commitment are great qualities to have if you play in these positions, scouts want to see midfielders who do not give up on things. They want to see players who keep going regardless of the state of the game. They want to see players who want the ball and that they are not afraid to make mistakes.
Hiding from the ball is noticeable in midfield players. It is clear to a trained eye when a player does not want the ball or they are not willing to help a teammate. This is something that coaches can help players with, being brave during adverse situations.
Socially: Character and leading by example are important to midfielders. Scouts will look for players who are consistent in their actions and behaviors, they are drawn to players who encourage others, support teammates, and are respectful to coaches, opponents, and officials.
What are Soccer Scouts Looking for in a Striker?
Technical and Tactical: The main technical skill that stands out in this position is the ability to use a range of finishing techniques to score goals. 1st touch, receiving skills, and shielding will be technical qualities that scouts will look for.
The striker often needs to perform these things well to protect the ball, give themself time on the ball, and link up with others. Tactically strikers need to have good movement to drag defenders out of position or create space for themselves or a teammate.
Understanding what type of striker the player is important for figuring out how they might fit into a team. Are they a hold-up player? Are they clever and like to move off players to pick up the ball in space? they could be an all-rounder who can do both jobs. How do they like to finish chances? Does the striker like to attack crosses? or do they prefer balls into feet or space?
It’s Not Just About Technical and Tactical
Physicality: Forwards who have a good work rate are desirable, you want your strikers to be mobile enough to force defenders into mistakes or force play. The strength to hold up and protect the ball is another trait that is useful to strikers. Finally, speed and changes of pace are really useful for strikers to outrun defenders and get on the end of crosses or through balls. Scouts might be looking for one or more of these qualities in players.
Psychological: Strikers must have a good mindset to deal with setbacks. They will miss chances to score or may be limited to hardly any chances in a game. They must have the focus and concentration to go again if they miss a chance or select the correct type of finish their opportunities are limited. Composure and emotional control will be required to finish the chances they are provided with. They should not get too uptight if they miss an opportunity to score.
Social: You want strikers to be honest, hardworking, and lead by example. They are often the first line of pressure so their efforts and determination can often rub off on the rest of the players and set the tone for a game. Strikers must love scoring goals. Strikers should try to talk to teammates around them, about how they would like to receive the ball.
How do you get a soccer scout to come and watch you?
It’s not often that you would request scouts to come and watch you perform. It is usually the other way around, scouts will be made aware of a player’s performance or the player will catch the eye of a scout during a game based on things that the player is doing well.
The best way to ensure scouts come and watch you is to perform well in your games. Try and have as many standout moments as you can. Scouts coming to watch is generally an uncontrollable situation so players need to control what they can in terms of preparation, and technical, tactical, and physical performances on the field.
In most cases, especially soccer, scouting networks are vast and there are usually not many places or leagues that are not covered. It might be a case of the player being patient and trying to focus on the controllability mentioned above.
If you wanted to push things to get soccer scouts to come and watch. This would be because you felt that your good performances were not being observed. A player and coach could put together some video clips from games you have been involved in. You could send a letter to the recruitment department of several teams you would like to be part of. They might be willing to come and watch you play.
A detailed insight into what soccer scouts are looking for on a position-by-position basis has been provided in this article. Scouts are looking for players that are technically efficient at the basic skills of the game. Good decision-makers in pressured situations and consistent performance over several weeks, not just one-off games.
Players need to be physically fit, and able to play the positions they occupy on the field. The potential for your physical characteristics to grow is desirable. Or a player with a physical asset that just stands out such as speed or strength. The scouts want the players to utilize their physical characteristics. They want players to use their assets to dominate opponents but not become dependent on them.
Psychologically players who show high levels of effort and commitment are generally sort after. These players usually have good attitudes and apply themselves correctly to try and improve. Emotional control and confidence to bounce back following mistakes are two other desirable attributes that catch the eye of watching scouts.
In summary, scouts are not always looking for the finished article. They are looking for players who are better than what they already have. Or they want players with the potential to progress from where the player currently stands. Being a good person who is friendly, reliable, and respectful is often a good quality. In soccer, the scouts will try to find out what a player is like away from the pitch. This helps the scout to establish if a player would be a good fit for the environment.
Find below some links to similar articles on this site. Each article will open in a new window. I have provided links to each position on the soccer field. Each article provides a variety of tips with in-depth information for players and coaches. It can be used to develop skills and techniques that scouts are often tasked to look for.
- 8 Tips To Be a Better Soccer Goalkeeper (Soccer)
- What Makes a Good Central Defender in Soccer? (8 Tips)
- How Do You Become a Better Fullback in Soccer? (8 Tips)
- 8 Tips To Become a Better Defensive Midfielder
- How Do You Play Attacking Midfield in Soccer? (8 Tips)
- What Makes a Good Winger in Soccer? (8 Tips)
- What Makes a Good Striker? (Soccer)
What happens if I get scouted for a soccer team? Players are usually invited to attend a development center within an academy to play and train with higher-level players once or twice per week. From here a player may receive an offer of a 6 to 8-week trial with a team. They will then join the team’s main academy or professional squad to play and train. If this trial was successful the player is often signed on a contract.
What happens if my soccer trial is unsuccessful? Players will return to their parent club and continue to play as normal. Scouts may drop in on you from time to time to see if you are developing further and improving. The scouts usually will watch you at least once or twice per calendar year if you have completed a trial and been unsuccessful.