February 29, 2016

In the Know: What is a Scout?

Long before an athlete joins their team for a game, before the coaches or the referees exit the locker rooms or an organization makes a draft pick there are people working behind the scenes, around the clock and around the world to ensure that their team has the best chance to win. Every professional sports team is in the business of winning, but winning doesn’t happen without the right people and the right people don’t happen without the Scout.

In the world of sports, scouts are practiced talent evaluators who are tasked with assessing an athlete’s play for the purpose of determining whether that athlete’s skill sets, attitude and personality embody what the interested team or organization is looking for. All professional sports use scouts, resulting in a variety of types, categories and levels of scouts. Some scouts specialize in the opposition for the purpose of preparing for a game, some scout in an effort to find individual talent to give their team a competitive edge; there are professional scouts, amateur scouts, international scouts and the list goes on. As mentioned above, scouts may be assigned to observe coaching tendencies as well as opponents strategies, they may be asked to network with coaches and management in order to discuss personnel needs or they may be assigned to observe and evaluate specific players. Often it is the scout who first attends a game to observe a specific player, often interviewing and compiling stats on that player then reporting the findings to coaches and management in order to assist in personnel decisions.

Scouting has come a long way in the last couple of decades with the emergence of analytics and advanced stats, but the foundation for scouting has remained, and will always remain the same. Scouting requires great attention to detail, commitment to each facet of the game and a higher understanding of the inner workings of the organization as a whole. A scout may spend days watching game tapes, months travelling to games and years preparing to draft a player. Of course the process can be either simpler or more complicated depending on the circumstances surrounding that athlete, but overall, scouting is a very detail orientated and long term process. Watching one game, one shift or one play isn’t enough.

It is a scout’s job to help their organization determine which athletes will be a good fit and this requires a scout to watch for more than just skill. Team sports are just that, teams and teams are made up of various players, with various personalities and traits. A scout looks for team players; athletes who not only work well with others, but bring those intangibles to the locker room making them invaluable to their organization. All the stats and analytics in the world can’t account for these priceless traits; the ability to bring fire and passion to a team and ignite a locker room. Never forget that a scout may be just as passionate about your sport as you are, and you can be sure that they are absolutely dedicated to ensuring the success of their program or organization. As an athlete it is important to understand the perspective of a scout and make every effort to align your goals with the goals of the organization you wish to play for.



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