The last step in the scouting process of a player is live scouting. Here the scout and sometimes also the head scout will go and watch a live game of the player. After the data and video scouting this is the last step. This is probably the most difficult one as well, because you only get one chance to see a situation, and after that, the situation is over. With data the numbers that roll out of the system are facts, with video, you can pause and rewind as many times as you want. But with live scouting, you’re watching a real football match, everything happens fast. Nonetheless, it’s an important part of scouting.
Why do live scouting?
We do live scouting because it will show things that the previous steps in scouting don’t show. Just like the video shows things that data doesn’t show, a live match shows things that you can’t see on video. On camera only 1/10th of the pitch is on the screen, most of the time not even all the players are on the screen. So if you’re scouting a player that plays in a position that’s not always in the video. It’s even more important to do live scouting. A goalkeeper is of course the obvious one, but almost all other positions are regularly not on the screen. It’s also these moments when the player is not on the screen that can tell you a lot about the player.
How to do live scouting?
So before you do live scouting it’s again important to know what you’re going to look at. It’s also important to know that you’re watching one player and not the team. It’s easy to forget this and watch a football match, but that’s not what live scouting is. You focus on one player. So you have to know what you’re going to scout, in your preparation, you again think about the playing style and what situations you will focus on when doing live scouting. With live scouting you look for the things that the data and video don’t show, this can be a number of situations.
Practical things to think about when doing live scouting is to have a seat that’s higher than the pitch, this will give a better overview. But this isn’t always possible, a lot of clubs have agreements to give each other tickets for scouting. But they’re often in unpopular parts of the stadium. It’s also smart to sit around midline because this again gives the best view of the pitch. Although every player is different and everyone prepares themselves differently for a game, it might be valuable information to watch the warming up of the player.
What to live scout?
So when you’re going to a match as a scout, you want to look at the things that are important for the team playing style but that the data and the video can’t tell you. So you think about what situations in a match happen that can show you this. For example, a striker can be alone up front when the opponent is in attack, the striker is probably not in the video, in live scouting you can see if he’s just standing there or if he’s still actively participating and reading the game where the ball might get cleared to get a hold on. For a central defender, it can be when his team is in attack, the video will show the attackers and the 16m. box and not the central defender. But is he organizing his defense? Is he ready to defend when a clearance comes? These are important details that the video probably doesn’t show but, that live scouting shows.
Another thing the video often doesn’t show but is better to judge in real life is the tempo of the game and the physicality. These are easier to judge when in the stadium. Scouts often know these things in the league of their home country, but especially when scouting a player from a foreign country it can be good to watch him live to see these differences because different countries have different types of football.