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Football Behaviour Management

The course is organised in such a way that it is as if you are part of a virtual club and already working as a scout for that said club.

Course description 

In cooperation with FC Twente, we organize a course to help you learn how to recruit the right players for a professional football club. Although the recruitment strategy also works for other sports, during the course we focus on football (soccer).

While player recruitment is one of the most important aspects of running a club, it is also one of the least understood processes. For that reason, we look into five different sciences that support better decision making in the recruitment of players. These five sciences are:

1) Viable System Model. (VSM)

2) Cybernetic Big Five Theory (Cb5T)

3) Organizational Behaviour Management (OBM)

4) Subjective Bayesian statistics

5) Triangulation.

Continue reading below for more information.

About this course

Course level

  • Master / Advanced / Beginner

Course coordinator

  • Marius Rietdijk


  • 3 ECTS

Contact hours

  • 48


  • English

Tuition fee

  • €735 - €1310

Additional course information

  • Learning Objectives

    Upon completion of this course students will be able to:

    - write a player scouting report

    - present a player to a decision maker

    - build a Bayesian network model for data scouting

    - structure a club to protect her long-term interest

    - influence decision makers to make good decisions.

  • Course excursions

    Because the course falls in the summer transfer window, it is not possible to guarantee all activities. Nevertheless, in the previous course we went to see a European Match of a Dutch club, we went to see a closed-door training session at FC Twente, visited the FC Twente stadium and presented the players we found during the course to the decision makers at FC Twente.

    All of this involves travelling and there might be additional costs to cover your trip, for instance via public transport.  

  • About the course coordinator

    Joost van der Leij is an independent data scout who works for FC Twente, a Turkish club in Süper Lig and a club in the MLS. He is also a philosopher of statistics. He is also a VU-university certified OBM trainer/coach. OBM is the most scientific tool to influence people's their behaviour.

  • Read more about the five sciences

    The Viable System Model is a cybernetic approach to modelling, structuring and optimizing organizations. The VSM works especially well for professional football clubs because it makes clear how to manage the relationship between the manager of the first team and the technical or sporting director. The VSM shows that there are two main strategies in this regard. Both work but the club has to know which strategy she chooses and what the consequences of that choice are.

    Cybernetic Big Five Theory is a neuroscientific theory for the Big Five. CB5T shows that people who score differently on a Big Five test also have a different brain. Taking these differences into account helps creating better teams, both within the organization as on the pitch. The failure of individual newly hired players often has to do with a mismatch in Big Five scores with other players. The same goes for the people running the club. When you want to influence the decision makers, it is important to take their Big Five scores into account.

    Organizational Behaviour Management is the science of positive reinforcement to bring the best out of people. OBM shows that people do what is rewarded and refrain from doing that which is punished. Players are often rewarded no matter what and that leads to problems with players. The same goes for the decision makers in the club. They often decide in a way that promotes the change of themselves getting rewarded rather than in the best interest of the club. Depending on what kind of CB5T score people have, they react differently to different kinds of rewards. To optimize your influence within a club, it's important to learn to think in terms of positive consequences.

    Subjective Bayesian statistics. The mainstream school of statistics if Frequentism, the idea that chance is the frequency of something happening with the same chance. Bayesian statistics is the alternative way of doing statistics with the idea that statistics isn't just about frequency. Instead, chance is the strength of your beliefs. Of course, a frequent experience strengthens your belief, so there is a relation between the strength of your beliefs and frequencies. As a scout, recruiter or decision maker understanding how statistics work in terms of the strength of your beliefs is very important because it is the strength of your belief that leads to a decision.

    The philosopher Donald Davidson has created the Triangulation model that shows how we learn about the world, how we communicate and how we are trained. Training, communication and learnings are all quite important in football. Triangulation is an excellent tool to learn how to influence decision makers.

  • Forms of tuition and assessment

    The course will be taught through lectures, practical sessions with professional live, video & data scouts, technical director, player agent and mental coach, excursions to live matches, training sessions and a pro club.

    Students will be expected to dedicate an additional 12 hours to self-study.

    Students will be assessed by finding a player for a pro club, write a report on this player and present the player at a pro club.

  • Syllabus

    Here you can download the preliminary course syllabus for 2024.  

    *Please note that it will be a preliminary syllabus and that it might be subject to some change before the course starts.  

Team VU Amsterdam Summer School

We are here to help!

Skype: by appointment via


  • Yota
  • Programme Coordinator
  • Celia
  • Summer and Winter School Officer
Celia VU Amsterdam Summer & Winter School
  • Esther
  • Summer and Winter School Officer