“There’s Something There”: Scouting Trade Craft 101

Trusting your gut and your instincts can take you a long way in the scouting business or does it?

Your instincts and experience will keep you circling back to the same players over and over again.

It can be a collection of different aspects or it can be one or two major assets that a player possesses, either way many scouts have a unique way of zeroing in.

“There’s something there” often is the phrase they live by.

A scene in “Spy Game” where Robert Redford’s character teaches Brad Pitt’s character all about “trade craft” comes to mind when considering the phrase “something is there.”

“You have to see it, assess it and dismiss it, without looking or without thinking.”

“It’s just like breathing, you breath don’t you.”

Obviously, there’s a massive difference between being a spy and a hockey scout, but when it comes to being observant, assessing the situation, environment, threat or a player’s skill set and projecting them to the next level there are definitely some comparables.

Scouts consider everything, they don’t want to miss or dismiss a potential impact player.

When scouts “zero in” on something they go very deep, studying every aspect of that player and person.

Sure it’s subjective, but in many cases they put their necks on the line when they “like” or see “something” in a player.

Over time their assessment, projections and evaluations may all vary, but in that moment of time all of their energy, expertise or “trade craft” is directed toward the player or players identified as the best potential “asset(s)” for their organization.

Trust me at that stage, their reports and observations are top secret.

Being observant, relying on your instincts and trusting your gut can take you a long way in the game.

Simply put, NHL scouts are amazing at what they do.

Their ability to project and identify talent is truly remarkable.

Obviously, mistakes are still made due in large part to unpredictable nature and unique circumstances associated with a players growth and development and how their skill set translates to the next level.

Nevertheless, it all has to start somewhere.

Being able to see “that something” quickly and being able to project that aspect in many different players is what truly separates the good from the great hockey minds and scouts.

The next time you see something in a player are you going trust your instincts, experiences, projections and trade craft or are you going to dismiss it?

I guess as a fan, coach, agent or scout we are all at different points within our training and “trade craft.”

Maybe we all should consider this; would you put your livelihood on the line for what you believe in, project and see in a player?

That’s what NHL scouts do every day.

What are you doing to improve your trade craft?

What aspects of the game and your experiences are you relying on?

What do you do when you see something in a player?

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