Nowadays, thousands of matches become available on video every week. There is way more video footage available than even a big team of scouts can process. In other words: everyone involved in scouting should strive to be efficient in how to use the available resources. In this article, we provide clear guidelines for that.
Video scouting sources
Besides television subscriptions and video platforms such as YouTube, the most important source for video scouting is Wyscout.
In Wyscout, video footage can be found from more than 100 leagues worldwide. Not only full matches are available. Wyscout also offers three additional options for scouting purposes.
- Effective time – skip moments where the ball is out of play.
- Automatic video report – all individual clips tagged for a player.
- Custom video report – selected individual clips per football action.
The first option is ‘Effective time’. Generally, the ball is in play for only about an hour per match. By using the Effective time option, Wyscout cuts out all of the moments where the ball is out of play. This way, you still get all the context a full match offers, but still get to save valuable time.
Automatic video report
The second option is ‘Automatic video report’. Wyscout tags all individual player events in a match, for two reasons: (1) to create data sets, and (2) to allow people to watch individual events of players. Thanks to this, you can create a playlist with the individual football actions of a player. It includes all of his on-ball actions and some off-the-ball events such as ‘Defensive positioning’ and ‘Off-the-ball movements’.
Custom video report
The third option is ‘Custom Video Report’. This allows you to select which football actions (player events) you want to see and which ones can be left out of the playlist. For a winger, you could select his dribbles, crosses, and shots over a total of 10 or 15 matches to get a first understanding of what type of player he is and how well he executes those football actions.
If you want to know everything about one specific player, being efficient isn’t that important. You just want to collect as much information as possible about that specific player and are willing to spend a lot of time on that.
In reality, scouting is a continuous process of evaluating hundreds of players throughout the year. New player names pop up daily, which means you are forced to not only scout thoroughly but also efficiently.
“New player names pop up daily, which means you are forced to not only scout thoroughly but also efficiently”
In other words: as a scout, you always experience time constraints. When you not only understand football very well but also the process of how to allocate your time, it gives you a big edge over other scouts.
Pros and cons
That said, let’s discuss the pros and cons of the three methods of video scouting. If you understand those pros and cons, you’ll be better able to pick the right method depending on the situation.
Out of the three mentioned video scouting methods, the Automatic report is in the middle. Effective time and Custom video reports are the extremes. In short: with Effective time, you’ll get to see more context, whereas with a Custom video report, you can save a lot of time.
The big advantage of using Effective time compared to watching individual clips, is that you can learn more about the context. What did the player do when the ball was on the other side of the pitch? How was the flow of the game? Which styles and formations did both teams use?
Besides that, you have the opportunity to focus on more than one player. When evaluating a full match with the Effective time option, you can evaluate 22 players all at once. This could offer opportunities to recognize new targets you’d like to learn more about when their first impression is good.
The biggest disadvantage of using Effective time is obviously that it’s time-consuming. You need about an hour to evaluate a player throughout one full match. To do a proper job, you’ll probably need to see him in at least three different matches to make sure contextual factors don’t have too much of an influence.
Custom video report
The opposite of watching Effective Time is using the Custom video report option. When you compile a playlist of selected football actions of a player, you experience one big advantage: the average relevance of each clip is very high. Let’s dive into some examples.
- If you evaluate a goalkeeper and create a playlist of all his goals conceded, reflexes, and saves, it only takes you about 40-50 clips to get a good understanding of his shot-stopping ability.
- If you evaluate a midfielder and create a playlist of all of his Under pressure situations, it only takes you about 30-40 clips to get a good understanding of his scanning, body positioning, first touch, passing, and ability to solve small situations.
- If you evaluate a winger and create a playlist of all his dribbles, crosses, key passes, goals, assists, and shots, it only takes you about 50-60 clips to get a good understanding of how he usually contributes in attacking play.
Another advantage of using Custom video report is that you can create playlists for one specific theme. Below, you’ll find two examples.
- When evaluating a central defender, you can start with a playlist of only defensive actions throughout a large number of matches. After that, you can compile a playlist of football actions in the build-up.
- When evaluating a striker, you can start with all of his goals, shots, and opportunities. Next, you can evaluate his contribution to the build-up play by picking several events that are relevant to that. Lastly, you can watch pressing actions to rate his defensive contribution.
In other words, Wyscout allows you to be very specific in what you want to evaluate in a player. It makes your evaluations very specific and efficient.
Using the Custom video report option also comes with some cons. Many times, you might lack context. You go from football action to football action without knowing much about the flow of the game, interaction with teammates, level of the opponent, et cetera. That sometimes makes it hard to estimate in which frequency the events you saw occurred in the matches you watched footage from.
Automatic video report
The Automatic video report option is somewhere in the middle of its two alternatives. It is more efficient than watching Effective Time and focuses more on the events that are the most relevant. At the same time, it’s less efficient than using Custom video report. Below, you’ll find two clear examples.
- When evaluating central defenders, you’ll find a lot of passes that are not very relevant. Many times, central defenders just pass sideways to the other central defenders which is an event that contains some information about the player, but not a lot.
- When evaluating goalkeepers, you’ll find a lot of ‘Distributions’ to defenders without any pressure from the opponent. Those football actions don’t contain a lot of information about his skills in the build-up.
On the other hand, it provides a bit more context than a Custom video report does. And it gives you more clarity on the proportion in which those events happened. If you only watch dribbles and crosses of a winger, you don’t get to see the situations where he could have dribbled or he could have crossed but didn’t.
Mix and match
At the end of the day, there is only one clear solution: mix and match. By learning more and more about each video scouting method, you’ll be able to use the ideal method based on the specific circumstances.
Above you’ll find one method we often use where you start with width (quantity), and proceed with depth (quality). But be aware that there is no magic formula for how you use the different methods each time.
It is very helpful to use all three methods when creating a scouting funnel. This means you’ll go from many players to a shortlist of interesting players with a step-by-step process. You can read more about that here.
Want to learn more?
If you are part of a professional club, feel free to schedule a video call so you can learn more about how our team of video scouts can help you find more interesting players.
If you want to become a professional video scout, join over 2.500 others and apply for a video scouting role at 360 Scouting.