The motivation behind us creating this post is to try and answer some of the questions we receive daily, such as ‘how do I get scouted in soccer?’ and ‘how do I become a professional soccer player?’.
With over 250 million people playing soccer World Wide it’s certainly not an easy task. So here are our top 5 tips to help you along your journey…If reading isn’t for you then skip to the bottom and watch our video
1. Create A Plan To Become A Professional Soccer Player
It’s safe to say that every one of those 250 million players want to play football at the top level, but how are they and you going to get there?
Becoming a professional soccer player doesn’t happen by accident overnight, it takes years of dedication, hard work, commitment, and planning.
Making your professional debut at 16 years, 11 months and 12 days like Kylian Mbappé is not the norm…it takes time for most players to work their way up through the ranks, before getting their chance at senior football.
So how do you get into football? Most players will kick off their love of the game at a young age by joining a youth team. As their enjoyment of the game grows and starts to develop into something a little more serious it can be very beneficial for you to join a private academy. Somewhere where you can receive professional coaching advice and spend time really working on improving your technique.
The next stage in your plan from here would be to identify a semi-pro soccer team which you want to try out for, but don’t expect to walk in and get a start in the senior team straight off the bat, you have to be prepared to be placed in the reserve team squad where you will have to earn your right to selection in the senior squad.
Once you’ve proven your skills in the reserve team the next step would be to fight your way into a regular spot in the senior squad. The step from here to a professional is still a very big jump, so the next step may be to identify yourself another semi-pro team, but one that plays in a higher league and repeat the process of fighting your way into cementing a starting place.
The key for every step is that you need to demonstrate what you can do, show off your abilities and prove your worth to the team.
2. NETWORKING: Where do soccer scouts look for players?
I can tell you right now, the one place soccer scouts certainly don’t go looking for their next superstar is on your living room sofa.
Unless you’re a well-known player who has already built a reputation for yourself you shouldn’t be sitting back and relaxing (and can guarantee you these players aren’t doing that, which is how they’ve built this reputation) If you really want to make it to the top of the game you need to be putting yourself in the shop window, so when coaches start thinking about recruiting you are first to spring to mind.
A good place for you to start is to take a look at who you already have ties or connections with from within your own circle, it could be a friend, an old coach, or teammate…maybe even that guy you bump into at the coffee shop every day. Is there someone you know who is already at a football club that you are interested in playing for, and can you reach out and ask them to introduce you and help you get a foot in the door. But once they do, you better be prepared to put in the work required so that you don’t let them down!
Another method, one which I have personally used to find opportunities in three different countries, is to search for soccer clubs or coaches and reach out to them personally to try and snag an invite for a trial. This isn’t the easiest of tasks, not only do you have to spend a lot of time trawling through the internet to find the clubs, you have to try and track down a contact and then a phone number (you’d be surprised at how many clubs don’t keep these details up-to-date online). It makes it even more difficult when you don’t know the country and its league structure.
Once you do finally find these details you then need to try and cut through the noise and stand out from the crowd…something we address in the next tip.
3. How To Make a Highlight Video
In the previous tip, we mentioned how important it was for you to make an impression on a coach and give them a reason to offer you a place in their squad. Very rarely will you do this just by bragging about how many goals you’ve scored, or what teams you’ve played for. Most coaches want to see the evidence.
Giving up a spot in the squad is a big ask, especially in leagues where they have restrictions in place for things like visa players.
So, how can you show a coach you’re worth it…the answer is with a soccer highlight video, showcasing your skills.
Whilst you want to throw in as many clips as possible it’s also important not to overdo it. A football coach’s time is very precious, they don’t have hours to burn to watch a video of every single completed pass you’ve ever made. Pick your key moments.
Make sure you keep your highlight video short and concise, we find that around 5 minutes is the maximum. You want to make sure it’s obviously clear which player you are in the highlight reel and including a combination of different actions like tackling, passing, heading, scoring to show you are a well-rounded player is also very important.
Try to keep all your best clips at the start of the video, leaving your 30-yard bomb as your last clip to finish on a bang is not ideal as most coaches won’t actually make it to the end.
If you’re applying to a club from a country which speaks another language to your own then it’s also a great idea to give a quick 1-minute introduction, where you can show your ability to communicate in that language. Coaches like to know there isn’t going to be any difficulty getting their message across.
We advise all players who join the Play Away Global soccer scouting network to upload at least one full or extended highlight video to their player profile too.
It’s easy for any player to look amazing when taking 2 or 3-second clips and mashing them all together, but with an extended highlight or full game video, coaches can get a real sense for your understanding and reading of the game. They can see how you react and respond to different situations.
If you’re unsure on how to go about making a highlight reel reach out to us and let us know, we are always more than happy to help; and watch this space for a video tutorial coming soon.
4. Create Your Football CV
Just like any other ordinary job which you may apply for, you will also need to submit your CV for football clubs to assess.
Fill it out with as much supporting detail as possible, but don’t go overboard, ideally, you want to keep this to one page if possible. If you want more detail, read our post on how to create a killer football CV.
It’s important to include all relevant information such as:
Country of Passport
Some coaches also like to have a photo of you included so that they can get a feel for who you are.
You can create your own online football CV to share with coaches right here, on the Play Away Global network.
5. Dealing With Rejection
If you want to make it in this game (or pretty much in any walk of life) you need to be prepared to face rejection. If you don’t believe me, go and find the most successful person you know and ask them if their journey has been all sunshine and rainbows.
There are numerous examples of football players being released from one or two clubs before they finally find a club, or coach that believes in them. Maybe it’s because you don’t fit into their style of play, maybe it’s because you haven’t fully developed yet or maybe it’s just because you need some more time on the training ground practicing. Whatever the reason for your rejection the important thing is how you respond to that rejection.
Instead of just giving up and walking away from the game at your first stumbling block, try to find a lesson and learn from why you have been rejected by the football club. Ask your football coach why you haven’t been picked, or what area of your game they recommend you improve on.
Failure is part of the process and part of the football journey, so prepare yourself to hear 100 “no’s” before you hear just one maybe. It’s going to be a real test of your determination, but if you really want to succeed in football you need to be ready and able to take the knock-backs.
Keep at it and keep on believing in yourself because at the end of the day, if you’re not believing in yourself who is going to do it for you?
Bonus tip: Are Semi-Pro Open Football Trials Worth It?
After speaking with so many footballers we really wanted to squeeze this one in here.
Open football trials…are they worth it?
Now there isn’t a black and white answer here. Whilst it’s great to put yourself in front of as many coaches and scouts as possible to try and get yourself known, you need to be wary of anyone that is guaranteeing you a placement just by simply attending the open trial day.
As much as I’m sure most companies really do care about the players, as the more footballers they place at clubs the better it is for their business and reputation, you need to keep in mind that it is also their business. The more players they have attend their trial days the better it’s going to be for their bottom line.
Ultimately if you go there with your eyes open and with realistic expectations, it’s all comes down to how you perform on the day.