A great talent can casually walk into your training session today or be among hundreds of football players you are trying out for your team's next tournament or league season. The ability of a coach to identify such great talent amidst the crowd of players is one skill often referred to as 'Eagle Eye.' This vital skill can make a coach’s job less stressful.
It's applicable to Scouts, Agents as well as players, to understand what top coaches like Arsene Wenger, Manager of Arsenal FC, will be looking out for to identify a great talent.
Modern football demand the highest level of play and what an individual player can contribute in the mix, to make a difference in a team's success. Therefore, top coaches are looking out for such player with Physical prowess, Unique techniques, Tactical Effectiveness and such intrinsic attributes as Mental toughness and Emotional toughness.
1. Physical Prowess: Physical prowess is the overall fitness - the level of endurance and how the player can maintain a high work-rate for the length of each game.
The physical attributes that easily catches a coach interest when looking out for a great talent is ‘Speed’ and ‘Quickness.’
"Speed?" The coach is not just looking at a player's ability to cover much distance within a short time, which is very important, but a great player also display an ability to change pace. A player that has such ability to cover distance with or without the ball can easily get the coach’s attention.
"Quickness?" In other words, a top coach look out for a player with the ability to create space for himself and others. Then, the ability to free himself from tight marking. Josep Gardiola, former manager of Barcelona, said: "Quickness is how fast a player moves into different positions to create problem for opponents, especially when they are without the ball."
2. Unique Technique: Jose Mourniho, Manager of Real Madrid, said: "I look out for a player's 'first touch' to determine the kind of player I have on my hands."
First touch is the unique skills a player is able to display and can bring into the team. It takes a great player to develop the ability to receive balls on the move; which would require the player to have control of the ball with a sensitive first touch.
Once the player does receive the ball can he keep it? The coach is looking at how a player shield the ball within his feet. A great player will not only be able to maintain possession, but will also be able to keep the ball at his feet and move on the dribble. A coach is looking out for a player with the ability to dribble at speed.
Then, how the player drives the ball and how many accurate passes he is able to complete - both short and long passing.
A great player will surely possess some unique techniques that characterize his play. Such skills as shooting ability - shooting balls on the move, dead balls, set pieces, square crosses... Top coaches will be looking at the power behind the ball and how accurate is the shot.
3. Tactical Effectiveness: Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United, refers to the concept of how great players make their teammates better as 'Cocooning.'
Cocooning is when a player takes his phenomenal individual skills and brings them into the team construct, giving teammates a better support to play well.
A great player possess such vision - uncanny sense of seeing things happen before they actually do. He can sail under pressure to make good decisions for the team.
Tactical effectiveness is the ability of a player to combine well with other teammates. A great player displays high level of verbal and non-verbal communication with teammates.
He understand not only his role in the team, but also his role within the team formation and system of play. He has the ability to read the game and identify what is needed at any situation. He is very sensitive to the coach's instructions.
4. Mental Toughness: Top coaches look out for players that has a competitive nature. A player that can win as many one on one duels with opponent. This is the basic foundation of a football game.
A great player is one who is ready to go into battle and displays an aura of confidence that become contagious to the teammates. He has such fighting spirit to win always and never give in to opponent's attempt to intimidate him by even playing dirty.
5. Emotional Toughness: Top coaches look out for a player that has such emotional strength to withstand that is, the maturity and the ability to deal with adversity.
How a player reacts even when the team is losing - his ability to concentrate when things aren't going well with him or the team.
"Coachability?" How does the player deal with criticisms, corrections and various kind of reproof from coaches, fellow players, and management.
A great player is one that is willing to continue to learn even from mistakes. It's the individual's commitment to being the best player he can be that will have direct correlation to his overall level of committment to the coach programs.