As children, teens, and even adults, we all grow up with a dream job in mind that we all think of right before we go to sleep and first thing as soon as we wake up in the mornings. Many of you, I assume, grew up wanting to be a world-famous actor/actress. Your friend may have wanted to be one of the best musicians to ever walk the face of the earth, and many of us dreamt of being a professional soccer player, including myself, for that matter.
This is a commonality amongst 95% of humans. It’s simply in our nature to work towards aspirations that we set for ourselves, and it’s what keeps us feeling alive and motivated to achieve whatever we aspire to be.
With that said, the reality of it is you will share the very same aspiration as 100’s of thousands, if not millions of others which can make matters more difficult than we originally think. If you’re like me, I bet you asked yourself how to get scouted for soccer. Well, today’s your lucky day as we’re going to answer it in great depth.
How Hard Is it to get scouted? Here's what the Data Tells Us
According to Statista, from 2006 to 2018, there were 11,400,000 participants in U.S. outdoor soccer alone. A further 850,000 boys and girls were reported to have been active participants in U.S. high school soccer during the 2018/2019 season.
Although data is scarce for those who want to take their aspirations to an elite level, it’s fair to say that a large proportion of those participants would take the game further by getting scouted for professional clubs in the blink of an eye. And honestly, who can blame them? Especially with the luxurious lifestyle these athletes live. Above all else, being able to do something you love every day and getting paid rather lucratively is nothing short of a dream come true.
Now, these statistics may appear to be rather daunting. When I read them for the first time, I was shocked at how popular soccer is in the United States, considering soccer is far from being the most popular sport and more than likely falls short behind sports such as basketball, baseball, and American football.
However, all professional soccer players and athletes who once had a dream of getting scouted were all amongst such harsh figures, so what does this mean? In short, this means that it’s certainly not impossible to achieve your dream, and you too can be a part of a small number of like-minded players who all share the same love of the game that you do!
Is It Enough To Get Scouted In Soccer?
I must say if you are serious about getting scouted for an elite soccer team, then it won’t be easy, and if you get cold feet at the thought of competing with players who are debatably just as good as you, then you may want to reconsider your choices. Getting scouted requires a lot of talent and extremely hard work, but there’s one thing that shines brighter amongst both of those prerequisites, and that is the right attitude. I’ve seen many players fall short of a great future from the game of soccer, with one player in particular who stands out more than the rest, and he goes by the name Ravel Morrison.
Although Ravel may not be a household name in the U.S., he was dubbed the next biggest talent to ever spawn from Manchester United’s academy set up who won countless youth trophies and vaunted players such as Paul Pogba in their team. These comments were passed on from established players such as Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney, who had seen him play before and knew he had the world at his feet. Rooney even went on record and stated, “He was better than Paul Pogba by a country mile.” Yes, he was really that good.
However, he was surrounded by detriments of street culture and couldn’t evade growing up swarmed by bad influences. This, unfortunately, steered him away from making his mark as a strong emerging talent in English soccer, despite all the chances that were handed to him.
It’s a deplorable state of affairs, but it’s an example of how the wrong attitude can negatively affect even the most gifted of players, which is why I need to reaffirm the importance of playing soccer with the utmost stellar mindset, as it may be the difference between you getting scouted or not. Nevertheless, I’m here to help provide you with top tips and advice to get scouted, so let’s get down to the nitty and gritty stuff, shall we?
How To Attract A Football Scout?
This is maybe one of the most difficult parts of getting scouted. It purely relies on you performing week in and week out to exceptional standards so that you’re creating a big enough buzz that people are talking about you regularly.
How do you do this? Well, if you’re a striker, keep scoring goals and showing your attacking threat every time you’re on the break. If you’re a goalkeeper, then keep the ball out of the net and aim for consecutive clean sheets, along with being the voice of the team and being assertive with your commands as you see everything on the pitch that other players may not. If you can ensure a top performance every time you step on that pitch, then I can guarantee that you will attract interest in no time.
Aside from getting scouted by sheer performance, other opportunities allow players such as yourself to showcase their abilities to coaches from all over. These are commonly referred to as ‘football trial days’ that clubs organize to attract the next biggest talents. Now, a trial day will typically consist of some technical and physical drills to see what level you’re out for both attributes. Then they will finalize the session with a football match where you have the chance to prove why you should be picked over anybody else.
But of course, these football trial days can be extremely competitive, so if you do opt for this method, just make sure you’re ready to compete with players of the highest levels. However, to ensure you have the edge over your peers, let’s discuss how important certain attributes are and how you can develop them to increase your chances of getting recognized!
A Word About Attributes
Usually, scouts will have a set criterion provided by their represented club to analyze the performance and potential of players they are sent to look out for. Most of these criteria will be a blueprint to the most ideal attributes for that individual, which will depend on an array of things such as the following:
- Playing position
- Height and weight
- Mentality and attitude
Now, all of these attributes and what is required of said attributes may differ depending on the club that is scouting. An example of this would be that a scout representing LA Galaxy may have different requirements compared to a scout working on behalf of Montreal Impact. But is it possible to tick all boxes for most clubs and increasing your chances to get scouted? Potentially, but it requires a work-rate that must be unmatched by your peers, and you must be willing to better yourself every day, whether on or off the pitch.
Let’s see what could make you stand out depending on specific positions on the pitch and what scouts are constantly looking out for in younger players!
Goalkeepers are notorious for being a bit crazy and eccentric with both their playing style and overall mental wellbeing. However, as funny as this may sound, just look at some of the keepers that have graced the game in previous years, such as Oliver Khan, Manuel Neuer, René Higuita, Fabien Barthez, and David James, to name a few.
All had their standout features, from scorpion kicks to running 40 yards from their goal line to interact with the play. With that said, they were all well known for their abilities as well as their odd tendencies so let’s see what abilities they have that may help you improve your game and get recognized:
Vocal – For me, being vocal should be the most important ability to look out for as a keeper as you are the eyes of all your teammates, so instructing them what to do and the right time can be as crucial as scoring a 90th-minute winner.
Light on your feet – This is another important one as they’ll be some games where you may only need to make one save, whereas, in other games, you will have to make 20! Regardless you should be alert and light on your feet, so you’re ready to pounce at any given time to clear the ball or produce a vital save.
Distribution – As soccer progresses every year, it seems to be more and more important to be as fast and accurate as possible, and this is no exception from goalkeepers. In this day and age, you must be able to quickly kick or throw out of your hands to start a fast phase of play and catch the opposition on the break. This will also include being a lateral and quick thinker if you can achieve this to a good level!
If I were to tell you what a scout would look out for 30 years ago, I would say that you would need to two-footed tackle every player who’s on the ball from behind and at least draw enough blood to get them subbed off for the rest of the game. Oh, and all in the first 5 minutes too. As the English say, “Hit them hard and let them know you’re there.” But this isn’t 30 years ago, and the game has adapted all over the pitch, so if you want to get noticed as a defender, try focussing on these tips below:
Read the game – This is a must-have all over the pitch but even more so for defenders as they aim to put a stop on all goals being conceded for as long as possible. It’s key always to ensure you’re analyzing the pitch, so you know when to distribute the right pass, trackback, and make that ever so important tackle to keep that clean sheet.
Strength – As a defender, you must be strong both mentally and physically; there’s no in-between. It’s essential to produce a stellar shoulder barge within the rules of the game that will enable you to get the best out of your 1-on-1 encounters and the best out of your team’s morale. When your team sees a valiant in a strong tackle, this generally uplifts them and spurs them on!
There are many types of midfielders that all possess their own individual talents. You have the midfield maverick known for their strong tackles and defiant mentality, and then you have the tricky magician-like players that have surreal dribbling skills and enough vision to pass through the eye of a needle. But what attributes are most important when we contrast and compare midfielders across the board? Let’s see:
Fitness – This is another attribute that is non-negotiable across any position on the pitch, but even more so for midfielders. Why? Because midfielders are responsible for getting forward and tracking back for the entire game, which is a relentless job, to say the least. So, brushing up on your overall fitness would be very advantageous to your game and give you an edge over your competition and peers.
Vision – For me, in this day and age, vision is vitally crucial. If you can master the art of seeing things before other players, you will go a very long way in the game. Additionally, if we look back at all-time greats that played in midfield, such as Xavi, Iniesta, Gerrard, and Lampard, they were all one step ahead of their competition which made them who they were along with their sensational ability.
Attackers have a huge responsibility and are debatable more responsible than most other positions on the pitch. This is because their objective is to purely create chances that will lead to a goal or be provided from an assist. Now, as we all know, the aim of the game is to score goals. Without goals, you don’t win games. Simple. Let’s see what scouts look out for when analyzing potential attacking targets for their academy’s:
Finishing – This is first and foremost THE most important attribute for an attacker. As somebody required to be a threat in the attacking 3rd of the pitch, you must find the net via an array of various methods from being an aerial danger to being a long-range merchant. Furthermore, equipping your arsenal with as many ways to score goals as possible will make you stand out from any attacker who’s sharing the same pitch as you.
Pace – Now this one is quite touch and go, and for a good reason. Although being fast isn’t necessarily essential, there is an existing pattern where players who play at the highest levels are typically a lot faster than those beneath them. This is a cold hard fact. For this reason, I would advise being as explosive and fast as possible to beat your opponents by that extra margin. This will give you enough of an edge to produce the goods in front of onlooking scouts and hopefully put you on the right path to getting scouted.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does it mean if you get scouted in soccer?
It means that somebody who works on behalf of a higher achieving club has noticed your talents and thinks you could benefit their team by being selected to play for them.
How do you get noticed in soccer?
Getting noticed in soccer isn’t easy, but then again, most things we want in life aren’t easy to obtain either. To get noticed, it requires a degree of hard work ethic, a positive mentality, and consistent performances week in week out.
Is it hard to go pro in soccer?
Getting scouted is one obstacle to beat but going professional is another ball game. Although it is challenging, it’s key to note that it isn’t impossible! Do not let daunting figures derail you from reaching your dream. Stay on track and show everyone what you can do to be a part of that elite 1% that makes it.
What do soccer scouts look for in a player?
Scouts will look for a player that shines above the rest on the field both physically and mentally. They want players who can take a game by the scruff of the neck and take responsibility for the outcome of the match, whether this is a loss, draw, or win. Acting like an elite professional is everything you should be doing as early as possible.
The Extra Time
By following these tips and advice, it should give you a competitive edge amongst your peers with hopes of getting picked up a scout. However, there is more to the above in terms of standing out on the pitch. I say this because you could have all the ability in the world, but if you don’t maintain consistency and improvement, then all that ability may sadly go to waste.
I provided an example above regarding a very gifted player by the name of Ravel Morrison, but he isn’t the only player who has fallen victim to wasted potential. Furthermore, those of a younger age who have an arrogance about their performance may instead be setting themselves up for disaster in the long term, even if they have God-given ability. This is because scouts will take into account how players act around their teammates and how their presence is reciprocated. Additionally, having a player who only cares about themselves will not get respect from those around him, which in turn can derail a talented team.
Scouts want to see players take hold of games and positively influence their teammates as this is what makes them shine, even in a team full of good players. Not only this, but getting scouted is also about being lucky and being in the right place at the right time, as people say. However, I agree with this statement to a certain extent, and I’ll tell you why.
Although luck is something that sometimes stumbles across us unexpectedly, I believe we can create our own luck as well. By listening to all these tips and aligning them with the correct mindset, you will set yourself up in good stead by vastly increasing the chances of getting scouted. Be smart, be patient, and be ready when it counts!
I hope you found great meaning in this article, and I can tell you first hand that if you concentrate on all the positive advice that is mentioned and integrate it into your game, you will become the best player you’ve ever been.