How I create scouting reports for pro clubs

Scouting seems to be one of those professions that just about anyone thinks they can get into. And to an extent – with good reason! With a knowledge and passion for your sport of choice, it’s not incredibly difficult to take the necessary courses and begin the path toward being a scout. But talent identification goes far beyond just the ability to watch matches and identify talent.

Most of the time, it’s not difficult to identify talent. What’s difficult is to identify talent that will transfer over to a new environment, under new circumstances, repeatedly over time.

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You need to combine a range of skills from performance analysis to presentation skills to communication, and intertwine those skills with a deep understanding of the particular purpose behind the scouting project.

If you’re conducting a scouting mission for a specific team or club, you need to understand their principles of play, intended ideologies, and even their ambitions. You need to understand the desired traits that they look for in players, and the desired traits they look for in certain positions or roles. You should even have an understanding of their level of play, budget available, and the likelihood that a certain type of player would immediately gel in their new environment.

Before beginning any scouting project, it is therefore important that I have a conversation with the coaching team about what they are looking to find. I want to know what type of player they want to have in their team, perhaps even through the use of an existing professional as a reference. I want to understand the greater scope behind why they are looking for a player in that category, and how they see that new player fitting into their team’s set-up. This will help me to find a player that suits their needs.

After I’ve had that initial conversation with the coaching team, I then split my scouting into four distinct phases.


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With all the advances in technology, scouting at the pro level is no longer conducted in the traditional sense. I’m not going out and watching games around my province to identify talent. I certainly could do that, but I’ll have more bang for my buck if I turn to the technological resources at my fingertips.

I like to use Wyscout as one of my primary resources for finding players, as they have an easy method for filtering players based on a predesigned set of characteristics, and then funnelling those players all into a list where you can compare their quality.

Disclaimer: I’m going to reference Wyscout a ton in this article. They are not a sponsor, and I recognize that they have an inaccessible platform to most starting out in this world. Nevertheless, they remain the leader in this realm. Statsbomb and Opta are competitors that offer similar services. However, Wyscout’s video tools are unrivalled, and I will continue to pay the price as a result. Back to the article!

I start the process by turning to Wyscout’s ‘Advanced Player Search’ Tool, and filter for what I want to see. Most often, my filters include…

  • Position
  • Age
  • Nationality / Passport
  • Market Value
  • Contact expires
  • Matches & minutes played
  • Specific statistics
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It’s always best to start with the positional need in question. Even if the club has not set specific parameters around the position, you can nicely narrow your scope by only focusing on one set of players at a time. I then will usually narrow my scope all the more by selecting players under the age of 27.

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Usually when clubs are turning to someone like myself, it’s because they want longevity out of the player, not just a quick fix that they could identify within seconds themselves. The age of the player could change for a centre-back or goalkeeper, but under the age of 27 generally means that the player still has time to grow and develop their game, adding more resale value in the process.

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Just about every club outside of the ones that tried to form a European Super League want to find players that can not only fix short-term and long-term problems, but be sold again for a greater profit. With the added bonus that the Canadian Premier League imposes within their U-21 minutes scheme, it can often become even more imperative to identify younger players who can make up some of those minutes. Not only do those players likely have a higher resale value, but they also fulfill a certain purpose for the club in meeting the CPL’s mandate.

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It’s also important to filter out any player that might be above the budget of the team in question. Even if they become a free agent next year and my club could get them for free, the market value still indicates some degree toward the player’s likely ambitions and desires within the game. That means for a CPL club, I’m scanning for players of a market value well below €1 million.

If I find a player who fits my other frames of reference but does not have an assigned market value, it’s always important for me to cross-reference that player with Transfermarkt or Sofascore. Otherwise I might include a player that is actually well beyond the reach of a club. But the market value in and of itself is still not specific enough, and tells us very little about the player’s potential.

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Clubs will also often have parameters around the location of the player they want to sign. They may be looking for a player of the same nationality of their club, a player with a European passport, or a player that even holds dual-citizenship. This is not always important, but it does have some ramifications toward how likely the player is to fit into their new environment. Wolves have created a cyclical process for themselves where they sign Portuguese players, but this inherently makes it more likely that new Portuguese players will fit in right away.

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Moving to a different country can be a daunting process, and one that often requires the ability to work in that new country. Even if a footballer can acquire those rights, they still have to adjust to their new home, the culture of their new country, and the environment that exists within the wider scope of the team. Professional clubs often now have resources in place to help players cope with that transition, but it still must be a consideration in the scouting process. It’s not only about stylistic fit on the field, but how likely they are to fit into the overarching environment off the field.

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The final superficial trait that I’m sometimes looking for is when the player’s contract expires. This makes it easier to identify players that are locked into multi-year deals, as opposed to players that could theoretically become available. There’s sometimes a bit of a merry-go-round between CPL seasons due to the nature of their short contracts. Knowing the list of players who are more likely to be looking for a move is imperative to limiting the amount of wasted time.

So while it’s not always something that entirely matters, it’s often a nice bonus to find players that have contracts expiring in the near future, and could even bump those players up in the priority list.

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When searching for players, I also want to have some kind of reference toward how active they’ve been within the calendar year. This might not matter all that much once I get my hands on the video footage, but it does provide a nice reference toward all of their other statistics. Certain players might stand out in the data, but if you then realize that they’ve only played two matches in the whole of 2023, it becomes more difficult to compare them to other players. More importantly, you can’t trust that those statistics are likely to be repeated over time.

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With that in mind, I like to search for players that have played more minutes across the last calendar year. While I care less about what they accomplished in May 2022 as opposed to the current season, looking at the calendar year is helpful for the purposes of comparing players across multiple different leagues. Most leagues start at a different time in the year. I don’t want to discount a player for having only played six matches within the current season, so it’s then imperative to combine that knowledge with what they accomplished at the back-end of the previous season. Again, we want to find actions, efforts and numbers that are repeatable over time.

Minutes played is also generally a better reference than matches played, even if more difficult to put into context. A player who came on as a substitute for 17 of their 19 matches is less likely to have actions that can be repeated over time than a player who started 17 of their 19 matches. This is why I often include both, ensuring that I can put their minutes into context.

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The final piece to the puzzle is in selecting the statistics that I want to see in my initial search. This may pertain to the type of player we’re trying to find or replace, or the certain qualities important to the role. I can then select players who spike at the higher end of certain statistics, and add them to the database of players I want to assess in greater detail.

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Let’s say for example that I’m searching for a ball-playing centre-back to enter the frame at a Canadian Premier League club. Simply accounting for position, age, market value and contract, an initial search of centre-backs grants me 3,500 players to sift through. Narrowing my scope to only include those with at least 35 passes per 90 and over a 70% completion rate on both forward passes and progressive passes, I’m then able to narrow my scope to just 600 players. That’s much easier to sift through, especially given that I haven’t even controlled for matches played or nationality yet.

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Now before I even add players to a new database, I can compare those 600 players on whatever metrics I desire. I can compare some of their ball-playing characteristics like their dribble completion or various passing completions, or I can compare other important elements that are still very much part of their position, such as their defensive duelling percentages. After all, we should want a centre-back who is not only capable progressing the ball, but capable winning the ball when going the other way. As part of this process, I should also make it easier for myself to sift through data points by deselecting any preset stats that are in the mix. That might include their height, weight or what foot they use, which are generally more superficial and unimportant than I care to scrutinize.

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After controlling for matches and minutes played within the last calendar year, I then find a nice list of 300 footballers who fit my description. As I then begin to select specific players to analyze in greater depth, I’ll go into each of my important statistics and rank the players from first to last. Players that stand out in several categories across the board (or even just a few) will be added to the list for further analysis in the next phase.


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After adding players to a ‘Player List’ on Wyscout, I will then continue the comparisons. Wyscout makes it easy to assess players within the ‘Player List’ realm by highlighting specific data points in red when they are lower, and green when they surge higher.

At this point, I may also want to add specific players the club recommended, or any players that I’ve liked in the past to see how they stack up against some of the players that the data identified.

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Once I have my list of players, I then want to eliminate certain players from the process, making it easier to identify those that are truly worth the time. I might order the players from lowest to highest on an important stat, and then quickly scan other important areas to see if they also spike lower on other important traits. For example, if I can visibly see that they don’t defend with all that much grace, their quality on the ball becomes less important to me. In many cases, I can remove these players from my list.

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A great stat that I always like to cross reference for players in any position is the percentage of their total duels won. This includes a range of their defensive, attacking and aerial duels across the board. My general rule of thumb may change for certain positions, but for centre-backs, I’d expect the player to be winning a whole lot more of their duels. I then might remove the bottom 30 players in that category, ensuring that the player that I recommend to a club is going to handle their own in one of the most important facets of the game. You can make this all the easier for yourself by filtering for players that have won a certain percentage of their duels from the get-go.

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I’ll then get into more of the specifics to the role, protecting or eliminating certain players based on their performance in key statistics and traits specific to the club. At this point, I can eliminate about 100 players within that 300-player database. It’s still a daunting task to assess exactly who my club should sign, but we’re getting closer.

This is where I now scan specifically for the players that spike the highest on my desired traits across the board. Given the size of the current list, I might create a separate list for these players, but not eliminate anyone else from the current crop of players.

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One of the reasons why is that the data only tells one side of a story. I’ve done this process many times only to find a host of players that don’t actually fit the club’s style of play or need within the role. It’s unrealistic and a waste of time to assess the video footage of 200 different players. But it can be an even bigger waste of time to narrow it down to ten players, and then find out all of them aren’t right for the role as soon as you turn to the video.

I therefore like to strike a balance by placing players into that second list, where I then download that list and put them through the statistical side of my ‘Role Continuity Evaluation System’. I want to first identify that they have the capacity to play the role, even if I find out later that they don’t currently play that role for their team. From that excel doc, I’ll then give each player a statistical score and a ranking, which allows me to better assess which players I am going to look into in greater detail.

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Once I have my final ranking, I then know which players I want to analyze over video. But I don’t move onto the next phase just yet. The final step in this phase is to cross-reference your final list with other sources. I like to double-check market value, contract situations, and even see more into that footballer’s playing history. I want to research the news and any articles that I can find on the player that others might have written, perhaps even understanding wider opinions when it comes to the player’s character, and their on-the-field successes.

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It would be a waste of time to sit through an hour of video footage and analysis only to find out that there’s a reason why the player has bounced around to a new club every year of their career. It would be a waste of time to do the same for a player that might be out of reach for my club based on all the signs I can see. So that final bit of research saves time, but it also increases my knowledge on the player in the process.

This is an important final step to ensure the players are worth the time, narrowing your scope all the more before you turn to the video analysis.


Once I’ve narrowed my scope, I then start the process of video analysis via Wyscout’s ‘Events’ tab. I like to see a footballer’s ‘best actions’, goals, assists, and key passes almost across the board. I wish Wyscout also had a ‘worst actions’ tab so that I could more easily sift through the holes in a player’s game.

However, I find it easy enough to see a reasonable balance of events through also selecting for attacking duels, defending duels, 1v1’s, and how they cope under pressure. I tend to also throw in off the ball movements, accelerations and what Wyscout calls ‘covering depth’, as they are great indications for how players respond off the ball in both attacking and defensive phases. I might then select a few other important traits for the player’s role or position, such as recoveries, tackles, dribbling and what Wyscout titles ‘dialog with the midfield.’

The danger with selecting too many events is that you’re then sifting through a lot of video for each player. So I often like to start on a micro level, and then slowly expand my video search based on whether or not I feel as though I’ve seen enough of a particular trait.

As I watch the video footage, I’m then creating telestrations.

The one thing that I caution with the creation of telestrations is that you want to direct the reader’s eye to the most important aspects. I often see telestrations that highlight eighteen different things at once, all in different colours with arrows pointing in every direction. It’s important to keep highlighted events short and sweet, and consistent with the precise and pertinent aspects. I also like to keep my pictures consistent with what will attract the eye, such as aligning the colours to match the team’s uniform.

As I identify clips that speak to a player’s success or lack thereof in different areas of the game, I like to then create playlists that separate certain actions or phases of the game. Once I have my different sections, I will then download the video footage as I’m writing the report/analysis, helping for a more seamless process where I don’t have to then dig deep into the archives to find the exact clip I wanted to highlight for each section.

For example, I may have a playlist titled ‘McTominay scanning’, that is separate from ‘McTominay defensive duels’. That way as soon as I’m writing about McTominay’s scanning or defensive duels, I know exactly where to look for the clips I want to include that illustrate my conclusions.

As I sift through video footage for each player, I then want to identify the standouts that will be most worth including in a final report. I may even include data from a variety of players so that the club can look into players on their own. But I want to narrow my scope as much as possible throughout he process. By the time it comes to the report, that scope should have been reduced down to just a few players.


In writing a final report for a club, team or individual, I want to tailor my communication to the audience I’m serving. I want to create a level of relatability to the content – relating the player in question to their specific situation (or even through the use of metaphors and writing quirks).

I also want to include a nice balance of video, text, pictures and data. I think it’s generally better to keep the text shorter when presenting to clubs or individuals, so I’ll often put together presentations that include jot notes more than paragraphs. I tend to use Microsoft Powerpoint to create most of my reports, especially when it’s heavily picture-based.

However, I want to include as much video as possible to paint better pictures for my audience. Lately I’ve started using my website to allow for my audience to see all the video footage and text in one place. I don’t think this is any club’s ideal format, and they’d have reason to be skeptical of that approach. I think most clubs would rather see a Powerpoint presentation or a separate file. But I also think it’s important to play into my strengths when it comes to the writing, and the familiarity of putting together an analysis in this format (like I’ve done in thousands of articles on this site!). I am however open to suggestions of resources where you can put together text and video together in a seamless, all-in-one encompassing place.

The final point I’ll raise when it comes to writing the report is that I always want to explain my “why”. I’ll explain why certain characteristics are important for a position or role, even though I often know that my audience is fully capable of making their own observations. I think it’s generally important to explain the reasoning behind your decisions and observations, allowing for a more seamless ability for the other side to see your point of view and respond.

I love the back and forth that can exist with clubs, and I want the conversation to continue after I send out the report. I want the coaching team to come back at me and say “You talked about this, but we also noticed something else, what do you think about that?”. Scouting can become a tedious process, so it’s nice to keep the dialogue open with the club in question.


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Scouting and modern-day performance analysis looks much different from the past. The use of technology, video and data analysis has become a harmonized process that all clubs live by. But many clubs don’t have an individual working on scouting & recruitment for the club on a more dedicated basis. I would hazard to guess that without that person, many of these steps may go missing!

Nevertheless, this cyclical process is easy for anyone to pick up. Here’s one more glance at how it works:

  1. Screen and filter for players that fit your desired traits for the role/position.
  2. Create a list of these players, and scrutinize the data in greater depth to eliminate or protect certain candidates worth further assessment. Narrow your scope all the more.
  3. Turn to the video, ensuring that the data and eye test align. Select a few standouts to include in the report.
  4. Write the report in a way that speaks to your specific audience, using a variety of mediums.

For anyone out there that has a different process, I’d love to connect. And if you’re a club or individual looking for some additional scouting & recruitment advice, always feel free to reach out! Thanks for reading and see you soon.


I am currently accepting new clients in my coaching & mentorship program. I work with coaches and players from around the world! If you’re interested in learning more about my site or experiencing my coaching, feel free to reach out! 👊⚽

rhys desmond – founder of themastermindsite

Across the past decade, I have worked with thousands of players and coaches across multiple sports and disciplines. I recognize the value of diving deeper beyond the first glance, and uncovering the deeper-lying ways to enhance performance. I make a commitment toward positive reinforcement, research-backed insights, and making the experience fun for those that work with me.

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