How to become a soccer scout? [Complete Guide 2023]

If you’re passionate about soccer and love to watch and analyze the game, then becoming a soccer scout could be the perfect career for you. Scouting has changed in every sport for sure, and soccer is not an exception. Scouts can go and see exciting matches around the world, but they can also see them on their TVs with the technologies today like Veo and Trace. With the right systems, such as Skillshark, they can really speed up the process of player evaluation. However, you can still see scouts of the largest clubs living in places like Croatia or Rio de Janeiro, turning every stone to find the next soccer superstar. Let’s talk about how you can take the first steps to become a soccer scout, what you will need to get further, and what the game is all about.

Step-by-Step: How to Become a Pro Soccer Scout

USSF created Talent Identification Centers across the USA. They are free one-day events for boys and girls that are 13-15 years old. The goal is to identify the biggest talent for future soccer stars for the national teams. Obviously, the first step is to identify the talent for the youth national teams. Now, that seems great in theory, but it is minute compared to what the European best clubs are doing. Furthermore, think about it – if there is a 12-year-old player who might be able to play at the national level, do you really need to wait and go to one of the identification centers? It is more likely that scouts of Dortmund, RB Leipzig, and Arsenal have already watched footage of the player. Yes, scouts watch footage of the best U10 players. It truly is that competitive.

In terms of education, there is a Talent Scout License that the USSF created in 2019. It is 8-day course, split into two parts. It requires the candidate to already have a B coaching license and work in an organization that already does talent identification. For comparison, the FA has 5 levels of education for soccer scouts, the highest being for Technical Directors. The first one is free, and you should take the online course even if you don’t intend to become a soccer scout. 

The Ultimate Guide to Soccer Scouting

Now that you know what it takes to be a licensed scout, let us guide you through the steps of what it takes to be good at it.

1. You have to love soccer

Most of the games you see will not result in anything really meaningful. Warren Buffett said that when he was young he went through every single company in Moody’s to find what he wanted to buy. When asked how to handle a large number of companies in the manual, he said “Start with A”. You just have to like the process of looking at an infinite number of games and players.

2. Define Talent

The potential of a soccer player is in four sections – Technical/Tactical, Psychological, Physical, and Social. You must be able to identify and evaluate all four aspects to become a good scout. I was at a tryout once for another team in my club, looking at one player that was playing better than most of the players. As always, they were small-sided 5v5 games. Every 2-3 minutes, it will take the ball from their own goal, dribble through 3-4 opponents and score a goal. The rest of the time was walking far from the ball, kind of like what Messi was doing at the World Cup.

As a scout, I learned only some aspects – fantastic dribbler, but don’t know if the passing and receiving are good. Physically, very explosive, but maybe low stamina. That’s most of it. See the issue? You need to see the players in various settings, with high and low pressure, such as games vs practices. Or playing against both stronger and weaker opponents. The most important thing is to be true to the evaluation and be sure you know that there are gaps you need to fill.

3. Become a coach

There is a good reason that the USSF requires you to have coaching license B before you can take the scouting course. The B license means that you’ve been a coach for at least several years. Being a scout can define life paths for young people, in a positive or a negative way. So, you have to understand the day-to-day life of these players, not just the performance on game day. Ask any experienced coach about the importance of coachability, and they will have many stories of young players who never made it because they did not have the right mindset for practice and relationships with any of the coaches. Other times, the issue is the particular coach and that is a key point to see. Become a coach to get the experience you need to understand both the human and the player that you want to evaluate.

4. Have a system and document everything

So, you’ve seen Moneyball and believe you can be Brad Pitt in soccer. The story is about the role of data analysis in scouting to give an edge in sport business. Of course, nobody dreams of becoming Jonah Hill, even though he is the real scout in the movie. Going through thousands of hours of soccer footage can be fun, but deriving data from it might not be for everybody. Then you start learning soccer statistical terms, such as xGs, possession percentages, progressive passes, tackling stats, and so on. But how do you make any sense of this when you watch 10-year-olds? You can definitely use Veo or Trace to get not only the footage but these statistics. However, it is up to you to document and create an understanding of them.

If you use a platform like Skillshark, you will not get lost in the data and will get better at both evaluating players and figuring out what matters and what doesn’t. It creates player cards and keeps the data over months, so you can see which traits progress over time. Perhaps certain aspects of the games improve or degrade, but also you will see if they are easily measurable and see their importance.

As we talked about before, statistics will tell you the Technical and the Physical aspects, but the social and the psychological, it’s up to you to evaluate. Furthermore, if you document your evaluation when a player is 10 years old, it will help you reevaluate them at age 12. It will help you evaluate the player, but also the coach – you can see if the coach had a positive effect on them. Finally, it will help you become a better scout by looking truthfully at your evaluations from 2 years ago and see if you get it right.

5. Fish where the fish are

One of the best players that I have brought into one of my teams was a 10-year-old boy that never practiced before. The parents didn’t speak good English and were not wealthy at all. Therefore, they didn’t look for a club, knowing that they cannot afford it. However, the boy played pickup games with his dad and his dad’s friends several times a week – that’s how I noticed him. When he came in, he was ready to compete with anybody and is still developing very well. It took a lot of effort to bring him into the club, and of course that was with a full scholarship. So, get out there and be in places where you normally wouldn’t be. The only way to grow is to get out of your comfort zone. You will meet other scouts, coaches and even agents of young soccer players. It will be fun! 

Your Path to Becoming a Soccer Scouting Expert

Becoming a soccer scouting expert takes time, effort, and dedication. However, it’s a very fulfilling and exciting career path. To become an expert, you need to keep learning. Stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies, and seek feedback from your peers and mentors. Ideally, you specialize in a particular area. For example, youth development, international markets, or data analysis. Lastly, you need to build your reputation, credibility, and brand. Communicate with people by writing articles, giving talks, and networking with other experts in the field.

Becoming a soccer scout is not an easy journey, but it’s definitely worth the effort. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can start your path toward becoming a pro soccer scout. Remember, it’s not just about watching soccer. It is about making a difference in players’ lives and contributing to the beautiful game. Good luck on your journey!