February 19, 2016

The Other Side: Scouting 101

As an athlete it is important to understand where the person who is scouting you is coming from. Understanding their experience, background and perspective will help you to better understand what they are looking for.

Scouts, or recruiters, play a key role on any sports team, identifying talent and working to retain the services that player for their team. In order to be a scout you must have a high level of familiarity, understand every facet of the game, have experience (most often as a player or coach) and be absolutely dedicated to your players and organization.

Most scouts have a deep rooted passion for the sport they are scouting, and in most cases this is derived from an intimate and competitive involvement in the sport. Not only does this allow for a better familiarity of the game, but it provides a deeper understanding and can result in priceless insight into how athletes think, react and ultimately make decisions in and out of game play. This insight may be the difference maker when watching a player who may have less natural born talent, but remains level headed during heated game-play or can fire up a team on the bench.

Most scouts have experience either playing or coaching in at least the collegiate level. This experience helps to ingrain a natural ability to asses an athlete’s skill level and further predict that athlete’s potential. It is a scout’s job to communicate this potential to the organization, and sometimes to the player themselves. In order to do so each scout must have a certain level of salesmanship; the ability to interact with athletes and often their parents on a personal, but professional level. Many scouts have or still are assistant coaches which is often where the process of analyzing and applying specific player’s talents towards group goals starts. Scouts are often required to network with players, parents and coaches, preparing reports highlighting those players’ talents and abilities.

More often than not a scout will have a college degree, and although this may not be necessary, it may greatly expand ones employment opportunities as well as provide a better understanding of the sport and its athletes. For example; a degree in kinesiology may provide a better understanding of what impact sports has on one’s body. A degree in statistics may allow for better comprehension of data, training documents and general stats. A degree in sports management may provide a deeper ability to connect with the business aspect of sports. The list goes on. With some research one will find that obtaining a college degree, typically a bachelor’s degree, will set one ahead of the pack. Exercise science and sports science are good places to place focus as they deal with the principles of isometrics, nutrition, sports techniques and even scouting tactics. That not to say that a degree in marketing, sales or business isn’t just as useful, as one may decide these are more suitable choices for their career. The key is to truly appreciate that education is knowledge, and knowledge is power.

Often, in order to break into the field, one will be required to start as a part time scout, or talent spotter. A scout must learn to distinguish specific skills of specific players, and not get caught up in focusing on only one aspect of a player. By taking the time to gain experience, scouts hone their skills and are able to further apply the concepts of networking, using this time to start building contact lists. Contact lists, and more importantly relationships, play a large role in the scouting industry, and any good scout will place a focus on building these. Athletes want to know that a scout has good connections to coaches and management and coaches want to know their scouts are constantly connected with good talent pools.

As an athlete it is important to recognize and understand what a scout is, what they do and how they got there in order to better understand what they are looking for from you.



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