Top scouts offer invaluable tips to grassroots players

It takes a certain amount of dedication to get out of bed on a cold and rainy weekend morning to kick a ball around a waterlogged pitch. Faced with typical grassroots conditions, football is often anything but a beautiful game, so what keeps players coming back week after week?

In the majority of cases, grassroots footballers lace up their boots purely for the love of the game and the comradery of being part of a team. And of course the slim hope that a Premier League scout may be out there watching.

Jamie Vardy’s zero-to-hero experience has undoubtedly given lower league players hope, and recent interviews with Crystal Palace’s chief scout Tim Coe and Revo Sports Management scout Joel Purkiss indicate that it has also affected how scouts go about looking for new recruits.

Speaking to teamwear supplier Kitlocker, these top scouts admitted that all eyes are on the lower level teams. They also went on to reveal exactly what they look for on a position-by-positon basis:


Goolkeepers need to be able to read the game and make informed decisions. Other desirable qualities for a goalkeeper include having a good command of the area and the essential ability to handle and prevent goals.

Centre Back

Understanding when to go into a tackle and when to fall back and cover a team mate is a crucial skill for a Centre Back, and one that is difficult to teach. Play is now moving away from the traditional ‘Kick it, Head it’ mentality; a player that displays confidence with the ball at their feet is much more valuable.

Full Back

Athleticism is a prime quality for the modern full back position, as players are expected to get up and down the pitch as quickly as possible. The 3-5-2 formation requires full backs to take on more of an attacking role, something that is becoming increasingly popular in the Premier League.

Wide Midfielders

Decision making — in particular knowing when to cross, pass or dribble — is a key quality for a wide midfielder. Players who instinctively look to attack, create chances and get forward to score goals are also more desirable.

Central Midfielders

Central midfielders are expected to be able to provide the whole package, including possessing excellent ball skills, the ability to get into the box to score and to provide for the rest of the team.


Unsurprisingly, it is all about the goals with strikers. Aside from a natural instinct for scoring goals, they are also required to be clever with the run, create space and hold off defenders.

Scouting the lower leagues

Putting Tim and Joel’s advice into play will help tailor performance (mentally and physically) to suit the characteristics that scouts are looking for. Refining play to suit these requirements will undoubtedly put a player in a much better position to get their ‘Vardy moment’, as Tim Coe concludes:

 “We spend the vast majority of our time watching lower league and non-league football. There is a lot of talent and potential and there are a lot of examples of players who have risen through the levels to play at the highest level.”  

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