1 FIND THE RIGHT SEAT
You want to sit high up, close to halfway, so you see the way moves develop. Follow someone who plays in your position. If you’re a striker, keep an eye on the movement a particular forward makes to find space. It may not always result in a chance, or even them getting the ball, but consistently making the right moves will pay off.
2 EMULATE THE GREATS
If you catch anything on video that you want to emulate, download it and create a good-practice database. At West Ham we might have 25 examples of a centre-forward coming short and then spinning in behind the defender, to show a young forward or to help an established player change his style to incorporate that type of movement.
3 SPOT THE MISTAKE
Sometimes it’s good play that beats you, but often when there’s a chance it’s because someone’s made a mistake. It’s usually a little thing, rather than a glaring error, so people watching casually tend to miss it. If you go to watch a live game, record the match at home. Re-watch it, rewind and look carefully at what led to a chance or a goal. You’ll start recognising common mistakes and identify these errors in your own game.
4 WATCH MAN AND BALL
You’ll be amazed how many Premier League centre-backs stand square-on, facing the ball, with no idea where the opponent is. Even if your man is a yard away, if you’re transfixed on the ball, you can’t defend the cross. If you watch defenders doing it right, they’re side-on and checking their shoulder, to keep an eye on the ball and the man they’re marking.
5 SORT OUT THE BASICS
Look out for teams that do the basics well. You can emulate things like their starting position at set-pieces. It’s important not to overload players, though. We give them three or four attacking and three defensive things to consider – then they have the key information, but are still able to rely on their natural instincts during the match.
For your viewing pleasure
Stuff’s Tom Wiggins recommends three gadgets for getting the most out of your scouting
Livescribe 3 Smartpen Can a pad and pencil automatically sync what you write to an iOS app? Livescribe’s Smartpen uses special paper to wirelessly send your notes or formation diagrams to an iPhone or iPad. It’ll even convert scrappy handwriting into searchable text. Unlike a pencil, it does need charging now and then.
£130 | livescribe.com
Panasonic HC-V520 You could be sitting in the gods at the Nou Camp and the 50x optical zoom on this camcorder would practically put you pitchside. It records in Full HD, even at full zoom. Its 28mm wide-angle lens will get as much of the pitch into shot as possible, while Near-Field Communication tech lets you transfer footage wirelessly to similarly-equipped phones and tablets.
£300 | panasonic.co.uk
You may need the salary of a QPR substitute to afford a pair of Sony’s digi-binos, but they turn watching a game into an undercover espionage mission Jason Bourne would be proud of. The DEV-50V can record everything they see to an SD card in 1080p HD, plus there’s a 12x optical – or 25x digital – zoom. They’re splashproof too, so they can even do it on a damp Tuesday in Stoke.
£1750 | sony.co.uk