Last week we made a start with the tutorial by looking at the different roles that frequently come to light when working for a professional football club. It’s important to think about it as it can determine the path you take while becoming an expert, but it’s not mandatory that you have already figured it out. Take your time and let it brew a bit in your brain.
Today we are taking a step further and talking about two different topics. We start with education: what do you need to do or have to become an analyst or scout? Then we go further into the analysis path and look into a possible reading list with books, websites and a few explainer videos as well. Again, I’d like to express that this is also largely my opinion and it’s never the sole path you can take.
I don’t know how many times people ask me the following: “How do I become a scout or analyst for a professional football club?” I don’t like that question for various reasons, but most of all because it annoys me because people need to understand that their process is theirs to make, not mine. Another important aspect for it is that not all roles have clear defined requirements in terms of working for a club.
For me there are two different paths you can take when you are reading this.
The first is one the path where you are young and thinking about going to college/university or have the time/resources to invest in yourself before you are on the labour market. Like I said before, it’s incredibly important to define what you want to become and tailor your actions to it. Not every country offers the same level of education in sports performance or analysis. For example, there are no official football scouting or analysis accredited courses in the Netherlands, but in the UK you have dedicated Football studies. If you have the opportunity to work with performance analysis and/or the opportunity to work with data alongside that – that could give you an advantage. Not so much because of what you learn at school, but also because you will do valuable internships which already give you experience, which clubs will find very appealing when you graduate.
I would suggest you look into what your local colleges/universities have to offer in combination with what your local FA has to offer as well.
The second one is the path where you are already in different jobs or different areas of expertise, but you are thinking of making a switch to football. In that case, it’s not only about learning and getting more familiar with everything in football analysis, but it’s also about taking a huge risk. So before you started moving that direction, make sure you are convinced to take that step and accept the hard, hard work that comes with making it in the football industry. There are different courses you can take to get you started and I will list a few (will update them over the time as others get added)
- Barca Innovation Hub
- Football associations
They all offer different courses and it’s up to you to decide which one will suit your path the best. What I would always do is connect with people who have done one of the courses and ask them about their experiences AND if it has been valuable in their work in football. You can do as many courses as you would like, but it might not help you while working the job.
Perhaps, I forgot to mention it above, but education in a formal way isn’t the only way you can grow into a role. It will give you a good basic feeling and idea, but in the end it’s about doing. What I mean with this is that you need to make the hours and watch game after game after game. Only by watching a lot of football, making analyses and writing about it, you will truly come close to understanding what this part of football is. We will speak about how to approach clubs and secure jobs in a later stage of this tutorial series, but if I can already give one advice: share your thoughts, make analyses public and interact with others. You will learn a lot and people will have you on their radars.
Next to formal education, I think reading is an essential part of getting better in analysis and scouting. I’ve started doing analysis and then started reading more, and I wish I did it differently. So much knowledge comes from reading others and getting the right context with playing styles, philosophies and ideologies.
For anyone wanting to become a scout or analyst, I would recommend these books:
- Inverting the Pyramid – Jonathan Wilson
- Data Analytics in Football – Dominik Raabe
- Soccermatics – David Sumpter
- Football Hackers – Christop Biermann
- Zonal Marking – Michael Cox
- Outside the Box – Duncan Alexander
- How to watch football – TIFO
Books can be a bit daunting when they handle topics like analysis and scouting, but they often game enough body, context and examples to feel like you can master that certain topic. As an introduction you might want to start with some websites that give information and/or analysis. For tactical analyses and exploring game models I can suggest the following:
- Total Football Analysis
- Between the Posts
- The Athletic’s football section
- The Coaches Voice
- The Mastermind Site
- The False 9
If you are into data analysis and the actual data (we will fully go into this one in other tutorials), I can suggest the following:
- The Analyst
- The Athletic
- Analytics FC
Again, I’m here to offer my opinion on what I think is good – but there are so many good resources out there. Connect with other analysts around the world and see if you can help each other with more resources.
Next week we will come to the first part of video analysis. We will have a look at how you get and collect video, how to analyse video of games and clips, and how to present this kind of analyis.