Introduction course scout/analyst: Part III – Watching games

Last week we looked into what can be needed in terms of education if you want to land a role as analyst or specific scout. We didn’t only look into what formal education you need, but also how you can educate yourself away from the formal degreed and courses. If you want to read that, you can click here.

Today we are going a bit deeper into the actual tools you need to make an analysis. In this part of the course, we will have look at watching games: what do you watch, why do you watch and how do you watch? This will be about video and watching match footage, live scouting will be conducted in another week.

Types of footage

Before we go into where you can find video, we need to talk briefly about the types of footage there are. I would categorise the type of footage in the following categories:

  1. Match footage
  2. Training footage
  3. Clips
  4. Compilation

The first is match footage and is quite straightforward: it’s the footage of a full game. From kick off to the last signal given by the referee. This will give you the whole context, but a few things are good to take into account. Not every league has the same quality footage, so try to get the footage with the highest quality to assess what you are looking for. I would say that in general for player scouting you always are going to need a bit higher quality then when you are looking for a team analysis, but for both it should be recognisable.

Training footage can provide some valuable information as well. You might not see them in a match situation, but you can look at isolated drills and track two specific things. You can track whether a player has a good understand of the drills being used and whether there is improvement within training. Further more you can also assess whether a player has the same intensity and drive in training, as he/she does in a match situation. Personality is a big part of the recruitment process that’s not to be underestimated.

Watching clips of a game opposed to watching a full game is something people have opinions about. I would say that the full game always give you more context, because you have more control of when you think a sequence should start and when it stops. With clips, it’s automatically generated to a certain number of seconds. However, if you want to watch clips from multiple games or a specific metric or just want a brief overvieww, it can definitely help. In a game, the effective game time can be anywhere between 40 and 50 minutes, and by watching clips you can make your video analysis workflow smoother.

Then there is also the fact that compilations exist. I’m not a fan of compilations made by individuals, because they always serve a certain purpose. They are used to hype a player and to “sell” his or her skills. It often gives a very singular view of the abilities of a player. It can be a good indication of the strengths, but I wouldn’t use it as definitive thing to assess a player’s ability or that of a team.

Where to watch/download video

Obviously there are different ways to watch and/or get footage of football games. In all honesty, it also depends on access to some tools, which can be pretty expensive and you will need to be a bit more creative.

Games are televised in many cases and you could use that to watch them or use livestreams. It will give you an idea of the game you are watching, but with games on TV – it’s not always accessible to everyone, so you will mostly end up with matches which are appealing to the public eye.

There are several places where you can get videos of football, including:

  1. Official football league or team websites: Many football leagues and teams have their own websites where they provide videos of recent matches, highlights, and other football-related content.
  2. Social media platforms: Football videos are often shared on social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Many football clubs have their own official accounts on these platforms where they post videos of recent matches, training sessions, and behind-the-scenes content.
  3. Sports broadcasters: Sports broadcasters like ESPN, Sky Sports, and BBC often provide video coverage of football matches, highlights, and analysis. You may need a subscription or pay-per-view access to view some of these videos.
  4. Online video streaming services: Services like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and Hulu may also provide access to football-related content, including documentaries, interviews, and highlights.
  5. Football fan websites: There are many fan websites that provide video content related to football, including match highlights, interviews with players and coaches, and fan-created content.

I know this quite generic, but this will depend on where you are based, what your access to games is, your financial means and where your interests lie.

With this being said and being the things that require a lot of searching, there are online video platforms specific for professionals in the game of football. Platforms like Wyscout and InStat will give you access to different subscription where you can watch many, many tournaments and leagues. They provide you with clips and full game footage, but it costs a significant amount of money – which can be too much money for many people.

Why video footage in scouting?

Football scouting is the process of identifying and evaluating potential players for a football team. In the past, scouting was often done in person, with scouts attending games and watching players live. However, with the rise of technology, video scouting has become increasingly popular.

Firstly, video scouting allows scouts to review players in greater detail. Unlike live scouting, video footage can be paused, rewound, and reviewed multiple times. This means that scouts can analyse a player’s movements, techniques, and decision-making in great detail, giving them a much more comprehensive understanding of a player’s abilities.

Secondly, video scouting is much more cost-effective than live scouting. Travel costs, accommodation, and other expenses associated with attending games can quickly add up, especially if the scout is traveling internationally. With video scouting, scouts can review players from anywhere in the world, eliminating the need for costly travel expenses.

Thirdly, video scouting allows scouts to review a player’s performance over an extended period. When scouting live, scouts may only get to see a player perform once or twice, which may not be representative of their abilities. With video scouting, scouts can review a player’s performance in multiple games and over an extended period, giving them a much more accurate picture of a player’s abilities and potential.

Fourthly, video scouting allows for easy sharing of information between scouts and coaching staff. With video footage, scouts can easily share their findings with other members of the scouting team, as well as coaches and other staff members. This allows for more informed decision-making and can help to reduce the risk of making costly mistakes when it comes to signing new players.

Finally, video scouting can help to identify players who may have been overlooked by traditional scouting methods. In the past, scouting tended to focus on players who were already playing at a high level, such as those in top-flight leagues or international competitions. However, video scouting allows scouts to identify players who may be playing in lower leagues or less well-known competitions but who have the potential to excel at a higher level.

How to watch games in video analysis

Video analysis has become an essential tool for coaches and analysts in the sport of football. By breaking down the game into smaller events and analysing the data, coaches can identify strengths and weaknesses and make informed decisions to improve their team’s performance. Here’s how you can analyse a football game with video footage:

  1. Acquire the footage: The first step is to acquire footage of the game you want to analyze. This can be done by recording the game or by acquiring footage from broadcasters or other sources. Ensure that the footage is of high quality and provides a clear view of the action.
  2. Break down the game: Once you have the footage, break down the game into smaller events such as set pieces, turnovers, or transitions. This will help you focus on specific aspects of the game and make the analysis more manageable. What also is a good thing to do is to break the game down in periods: break it down in 6 periods of 15 minutes and see if things change from period to period to assess tactical trends within the game.
  3. Identify key performance indicators (KPIs): Determine the KPIs that are important for your team’s style of play, such as possession percentage, passing accuracy, shots on target, or pressing intensity. These KPIs will help you measure your team’s performance and identify areas for improvement.
  4. Watch the game: Watch the game in real-time or at a slower speed to identify moments that align with the KPIs. You can also use the video analysis software to mark and highlight specific moments or events.
  5. Identify strengths and weaknesses: Use the video analysis to identify your team’s strengths and weaknesses. This will help you make informed decisions about how to improve your team’s performance, such as adjusting your tactics or focusing on specific training drills.

Next week we will come to the fourth part of video analysis. We will have a look at how you get and collect data, how you clean, manipulate and translate data.

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