Quite often when I watch a youth game on a Sunday morning I will come across a player who is easy on the eye and seems to glide through the game with ease and confidence. Even when I watch professional games at lower level, including non league, quite often there is a player that stands out and just seems better than everyone else. So what is it that is making these players stand out.
The Football Scout is looking at these 5 areas of the player.
- Technical Ability: a great 1st touch, the ability to play with their head up, good in 1v1 situations, efficiency on the ball and with their passing ( not giving it away), being good with all areas of both feet, having an end product when in possession. Being able to score a good goal, make a penetrative pass, retain the ball under pressure and maintain possession are some good example examples.
- Pace and Acceleration: Speed and Agility are part of the modern game. The quicker you perform moves the better player you are. Your straight line speed over small, medium and longer distances can make you stand out. How fast can you cover 10m or 30m for example. Modern players perform many short sprints throughout a game. Jamie Vardy recorded 71 against Liverpool on Monday night. What is also as important is you ability to change direction quickly. This helps create space.
- Movement: You will spend far more time without the ball than with it! Are you moving into good space to receive the ball? Are you making runs or moving to create space for others. Most of this stuff you cannot see on the TV as it follows the ball. Think about how you move when your team has possession. How you move when the other team has possession and how you move when there is a transition( change) of possession from one team to the other. Try and watch a professional game and watch the players in your position. Question: Can you create space by standing still?
- Awareness: This is called Football Intelligence of Football IQ. This compliments movement. Knowing the bigger picture. Awareness of where your teammates are on the pitch. Decision making! Making the right decisions at the right time. For example when to pass or take someone on 1v1. Where to play the ball, space or into feet? When to press the ball? When to tackle or delay? Strikers being aware of where the goalkeeper is? Understanding scenarios on the pitch. Understanding the tactical implications of your position. Thinking about tactical implications and your role within the team. Your awareness with and without the ball. Sensing danger, seeing a forward run for example. Being at the right place at the right time. Great players always seem to have time and be in lots of space! The older you get the more detailed your awareness should become.
- Temperament: Discipline, mental toughness, playing with a smile, playing poker faced. Look as if your are having a great game. Don’t give opponents signals that you becoming frustrated or that they may be getting the better of you. Have the same attitude in training. I always say this to my players. You never know who could be watching a training session or a warm up. I did the warm ups at Newport the year we won the Conference South with a record score and would monitor the attitude and application of players. At half times I would warm up players who were about to come on so that they were focussed and temperament correct. Are you reacting correctly to coaches decisions or referees decisions. Do you let it wind you up? How are you off the pitch? The manager or scout choosing between 2 players of equal ability is always going to choose the player with the nicer personality. Quite often Scouts will talk to parents, coaches and teachers to find out what you are like!
Have you got what it takes?