The mental side of modern scouting is made up of simple, logically interlinked parts. The first step to a perfect solution is to examine the personality of your own team and to build up a complex individual personality profile of your key players. This defines the environment in which our chosen player will be placed. Next, it is necessary to define the complex personality of our coach, who will be largely responsible for getting the best out of the potential player. Then we “only” need to define the team’s goals, either in terms of position or results, because this will determine the extent to which the new season will create an “individual crisis” for our selected player in our team. If we take these steps and add traditional physical measurements dressed in modern clothes, we can’t miss, and our new player will perform as expected.
Key player profiles
During scouting, most professionals push their best current players as paradigms for prospective players, even if they do so subconsciously. They formulate that they expect players with roughly this kind of character to join the team. Or just the opposite, when they define that they want to see complementary profiles in the new team that are exactly the opposite of the profiles of the key players. However, very few look at the science behind this. After all, it is not necessarily useful to talk in general terms about personality traits which then seriously determine the decisions of a person. That is why high-end clubs have serious personality tests filled out by players, so that they can accurately establish this internal benchmark. It is only worth comparing on the basis of a system, and if we know what point in a mental structure a player we consider exemplary occupies, we can compare the point of a potential player in the same mental system. In this way, we can easily determine the distance between the two points, which defines the similarities and the differences between the two profiles. However, we must also take into account that not all key players are happy to take a psychological assessment, and so we cannot force anyone to do so. It is no coincidence that there are already solutions to get around this, where without taking a test, a player can be put into a system by special, multifaceted data collection — video-based peacetime/crisis time psychological analysis, social media, player career analysis, other online data — and the same potential player can be matched with the same data collection and evaluation. So, in fact, with the right scientific background, you can arrive at almost the same decision as with traditional psychological testing methods. Of course, it cannot be as perfectly accurate, but it provides enough information for a clear “yes/no” decision. This also makes it much easier to accept the use of mental systems, since it is possible to get a potential player to do a physical assessment, but much more difficult to get them to sit down in front of a “shrink”. The same analysis can be done for coaches, and it is certain that if the profile of the key player, the profile of the coach, and the profile of the future player are marked in the same coordinate system, the links, conflicts, and identities among them can be clearly identified.
Clear clarification of objectives
This is perhaps the most critical point of the mental decision-making part of scouting, as what we expect from the new player perfectly defines the individual crisis situation they will have to face when they come to a new team. It is worth clarifying right away that, from a mental point of view, a high-stakes situation can lead to completely different individual crisis situations. If we have a player who has won four championships with her team and our goal is to take our team, which finished in mid-table the previous year, to the top, then this four-time champion player will not have a real individual crisis during her time with us. After all, she has already been through those situations several times, which will arise in the future, so regardless of her personality type, we can say that she has already learned to deal with them. If, on the other hand, we have a team that has just been promoted to the first division and we bring in a star player from a team that was relegated last year, then every match will be an individual crisis for her, and it makes a difference what personality type she is, because there are some players who can handle this crisis perfectly well and others who cannot overcome it without serious mental support. The examples could go on, but the point is clear: for the player you want to sign, you need to look not just at results, but also at the crisis situations she has faced with her team, whether she has been a complementary or a key player, and how these crisis situations relate to the crisis situations you are planning for your team’s future. Looking at these together will give us the right answer about her signing.
Although complex, and often too complicated, and sometimes even unnecessary for those who know the sport, a complex mental assessment in a scouting field can be considered “routine” by a competent professional, especially if they sufficient experience in this field. And yes, it can lead to a situation where we can assess our potential player in such a way that we cannot be surprised by his performance. There are already such clubs around the world, and the number is growing. Obviously, after a wasted contract worth hundreds of thousands, millions, tens of millions of euros or dollars, more and more people want to be sure. In other words, if you do not take these factors into account when scouting, you are at a disadvantage when competing, although in certain leagues you can still be first in this respect. And at the moment, if we are honest, we cannot talk about a level playing field when one team uses traditional scouting and another team uses scouting with a complex mental background. The field is sloping towards the latter, and not just a little bit!