The three most common ways for evaluating a football player are live scouting, video evaluation and data analysis, all three with their own unique upsides and downsides. When mixed and matched in the right way, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Most clubs have the most experience with live scouting, so digital scouting support can be really beneficial.

Full matches

Back in the old days, the only way to evaluate football players was by watching full matches. Preferably in the stadium, alternatively by watching them on television. In the last decade, several new methods have appeared. There are many different options to use video as a tool to evaluate players. In addition, there is a rapidly expanding number of data companies that offer their services to clubs.

Is it still a good idea to watch full matches? Definitely. A full match provides the best context to evaluate a player within the playing style of the team. Should watching full matches, either live or on video, be the only way of football scouting? Let’s say it is not very efficient. The region covered will be relatively small and the club will miss out on great opportunities out of this range. Before diving into this any further, let’s discuss the pros and cons of the three methods we mentioned.

Live scouting

Of all three, live scouting is the most accurate. Being in the stadium offers the opportunity to watch a player closely the whole match, even when the ball is on the other side. It enables a scout to watch him organise the rest-defense, see how fast he tracks back against a counter-attacking opponent and observe his non-verbal communication. And hey, when you are there anyway, why not watch his warming-up to get even more information?

Obviously, live scouting has downsides too. It is very time-consuming and involves high traveling costs. This means you are restricted to a relatively low number of matches, which is why you’re limited to evaluating players in a relatively small area of the world. This could be a conscious choice, but one that will always lead to lots of missed opportunities.

Data analysis

In many ways, the opposite is true for data analysis. This form of football scouting is the least accurate, for several reasons. As Albert Einstein once said: ‘Not everything that can be counted counts. And not everything that counts can be counted.’ In other words, not everything that’s important for a player is covered with event data, and not everything we can measure provides us with valuable information about a player.

Besides that, there might be errors in the tagging of the football actions in the match. Moreover, some statistical challenges could influence possible conclusions.

That doesn’t mean data analysis in football is useless, far from it. With data, it is possible to evaluate very large numbers of players at once and to do that repeatedly. By doing so, when applied properly, data analysis provides the optimal way to identify which players to spend more time on and which players to ignore until further notice. By using data this way – as a filter for video scouting – the cons are mitigated, while the pros are used to full effect.

Here, you can read more about the way we use data scouting.

Video scouting

At 11tegen11 Scouting, we think of video as the ideal link-up between live scouting and data analysis. From a pros and cons point of view, video is somewhere in the middle too. It is not as accurate as live scouting, but much less expensive and time-consuming. It is not as fast as data analysis, but it provides more useful information.

Since we’ve started working for clubs, we haven’t once based our evaluations purely on data analysis. We strive for the optimal quality and as such we always add video evaluations to our reports, for several reasons.

  • Significantly increase the success rate of the players we send to the club.
  • Use the external feedback loop to adjust our video scouting based on the club’s feedback.
  • Use the internal feedback loop to keep improving our data analysis.

Here, you can read more about the way we use video scouting.

Football scouting evolution

As stated before, it is very explainable that most clubs have a lot of experience with watching full matches, live and on video. This has been the main source of evaluating players for many, many years. In our experience, many clubs have the ambition to evolve in their scouting methods by implementing data analysis into their process. .

At the same time, this can be a difficult process. Without the necessary knowledge about data analysis on a detailed level, there is a danger of wasting a lot of time and money without really improving the shortlist of players who are most suitable to strengthen the team on a certain position.

Obviously, the most sustainable way to improve the scouting team on the long term is by adopting all the right digital scouting opportunities internally, within the club. But in our experience, this is a very, very difficult task for most clubs. By working together closely, we specialise in offering digital scouting support with a customised approach, adapting to the preferences and current methods within the club.

Get in touch

At 11tegen11 Scouting, we do not have the ambition to work with an ever-expanding number of clubs. By working together closely with a maximum of four clubs, we are able to watch most of their matches, communicate on a regular basis and adapt to the needs of the club the best we can.

We believe in digital scouting, but only when it is performed by being in close contact with the club, with football as the main starting point and when everyone involved gives their best to continuously improve the scouting process.

We’d love to get in touch and schedule a 30 minute video call to discuss our methods, learn more about the way your scouting team operates and find ways to identify the best possible players within the budget limits of the club.