Youth: What Scouts Look for in Upcoming Soccer Talent

May 7, 2020

  • Attracting the attention of soccer scouts is challenging for even the best soccer players. 
  • Developing a balance and proficiency of technical, tactical, physical, and personality traits is the key to impressing soccer scouts.
  • Consistent training and development of all these skills increases your odds of getting selected by scouts. 

For the supremely talented soccer, there’s a good chance they’ve dreamt about gracing the professional pitch someday. Of course, only a few will make it. For those who have serious potential, getting noticed by high-level scouts is the first step to making that dream a reality. Those who catch the attention of scouts are a rare breed of player, possessing the right combination of physical and mental skills that only a select few have.

Could you fall into that camp? 

It’s helpful to know what scouts are looking for so that you can demonstrate the qualities for them to see. This piece examines what talent scouts look for in young players, and what players can do to showcase their abilities. 

Technical Chops

Like any sport, success in soccer is highly dependent on mastering technical skills. And no, dekes aren’t sufficient enough to get you looks from scouts. You need to sharpen the basic skills - dribbling, shooting, heading, passing, first touch, and tackling ability. 

Of course, some of these skills will matter a bit more or less than others depending on your position. However, skills such as a refined first touch ability is important for any player.

You should practice your core skills every day with the appropriate drills and exercises. The repetition builds muscle memory, making these movements feel effortless over time. 

Tactical Chops

You also need to have a high “football IQ”, which is a casual way of saying tactical awareness. This is the ability to read the game and respond with the right plays and decisions—at a moment’s notice. A player with high tactical ability knows where to put themselves and when to do so. Scouts watch when you have the ball and when you don’t have possession. 

They want to see how you handle opponents who are closing in on you, or whether you’re drawing defenders away from the ball to create space for your teammates. 

Here’s a word of advice: seriously work on your football IQ when you don’t have the ball. Scouts pay more attention to this aspect of your game than you might realize. 

Just like technical ability, you can strengthen your tactical chops with drills and exercises and other techniques such as vision training and watching game footage

Physical Attributes

Your physicality can determine whether a scout sees you as having potential or not. Your physical size doesn’t matter as much as it used to, although some characteristics can serve as an advantage (such as being tall for goalkeepers). 

Nevertheless, you still have to show a degree of strength, agility, balance, and poise whether you have the ball or not. Your conditioning should be up to par as well - good endurance and an ability to take hits from other players will put you in a scout’s good books.

Ultimately, if you can withstand the ever-changing pace and intensity of a game, your physique won’t be an issue. 

Weight training, conditioning drills and neuromuscular warmups (such as FIFA 11+) can help you maintain and increase your physical performance for scouts to see. 

Personality Traits

The right personality traits are the main selling point for many soccer players. And we don’t mean personality in the sense of being a reality show star. Scouts seek out players who demonstrate confidence, poise, calmness, and determination. 

How does that look on the pitch?

A poised and confident player makes good tactical decisions, not hurriedly or hesitantly, both of which can suggest nervousness. A calm player can get upset at a bad call or an opponent’s illegal tackle, but doesn’t get angry to the point of verbally or even physically attacking someone else. Determined players play with a consistent intensity even if they’re losing a match or being heckled by the opposing team’s fans. 

”Winning” soccer personality traits are visible through a player’s performance.


And here’s a quick word on aggression. 

Scouts look for it. It’s a tricky for players to develop though, because it’s easy to be too aggressive or too passive. Too much aggression can mean illegal tackles, troubles with referees and an increased risk of injury. Too little aggression leads to underperformance and poor decision making. 

Scouts are looking for just the right amount of it. You’ll have to learn, through trial and error, to find that balance. 

If you can display those character traits, you will be a top contender for scouts. So work on yourself not only as a player, but also as a person. 

Whether it’s through meditation, deep breathing or some other means, there are many ways to help you train to keep your emotions balanced

Good Pacing

The ability to maintain a good pace throughout a game is an “icing-on-the-cake” skill. If you demonstrate it along with the other skills and traits above, then scouts may very well approach you. 

Good pacing is demonstrated by both your speed and your ability to slow down or quicken the tempo of the game when you have possession of the ball. It’s a skill that sets you apart because being able to dictate the game’s pace puts you in greater control overall. 

Developing a good pace comes from a combination of possessing the above-mentioned skills and experience. Ultimately, good pacing is intuitive, which means that you have to develop a “feel” for the game (which again, comes from experience). 

Shine When it Counts

Many players are eager to play for scouts to see them, but lack the chops needed to make a good first impression. If they were to be seen, it would be a wasted opportunity. Always work on your skills including the full range of abilities listed above, so that you’re in tip-top shape as a player. 

Have your coach and teammates assess you and give you honest feedback. Go a step further even and have yourself recorded to see where you are solid or need improvement - the camera won’t lie! By continuously refining your skills, you might become a top choice for scouts.

Are you looking for high-performance soccer gear that’s affordable and reliable? Browse through our selection of soccer protective gear to find the equipment you need. 

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