Football Manager Guides | Training
Unlike my other Football Manager Guides, this one is based on both facts (information you can get from the game and from the SI Forums) as well as my own intuition. Generally, if I start by saying something like what I like to do…, then this is usually me trying to think like a football manager and applying what I think is a sensible approach to my training.
If you’re looking for five-star training schedules, a quick fix, or someone to do the training for you, you won’t find that here. This is more a result of my own research by the hours of reading the forums and testing the game to see how things work. Some may approach training differently, and I know for a fact that there will be some real detailed posts coming from the likes of Cleon soon, but this is my approach. I hope you find it useful.
Before we begin, I will warn you though, with the overhaul to training for this years edition, there is an awful lot to take in. However, like with scouting and other areas of the game you can take control of as much or as little as you prefer.
Which probably gives us a good place to start…
I thought it would be useful to quickly recap the staff responsibilities. If you only want to take control of some aspects of training, a good place to start is right here, as you can take over as much of the training as you wish. Some might prefer to do little at the beginning an then take a more active role as they become more familiar. That’s certainly how I approached it.
Staff > Responsibilities > Training
I much prefer to be completely hands-on with the first team and leave my youth squads to the respective youth team managers. It’s what the club pays them for.
General training involves setting up the training schedules whereas individual training is specific to each player, e.g., their role, traits etc.
What I prefer to do is take the general and individual training for the first team, leave the general training of the youth teams to the youth team managers, and then take the individual training of the youth team players so that I can better control their specific role and duty training.
I like to ensure that when players are ready to step up to the first team, that they’ve trained for the role I have ready for them and that they have developed the traits I need them to have for their position.
There’s no right or wrong way to do this, but it’s how I’ve always setup things and how I prefer to develop my players.
Welcome to training.
I love the new overview page. I think there could be a bit more information delivered to me here, like the reason why players are not content with training etc. but it’s a great hub for all my training.
Along the top of the overview is your tactical familiarity. If you leave training to your assistant manager, your training will be aligned with your tactical style. It is important to use your main system as your primary tactic, e.g., say you have a Gegenpress style that you’ll use for 80% of the games, and then a defensive and attacking one for when you’re holding onto or chasing a lead, then you want to have your Gegenpress style as your main tactic to ensure your players are training to suit this style as a priority.
You can easily swap the primary tactic here, by selecting the drop-down beside the primary tactic familiarity bar.
This weeks training
Next up is the current weeks training schedule. You’ll see each session for the week, including any matches that you might have. Training schedules are based on Monday to Sunday. You’ll also notice an intensity level. The more intensive the training, the fuller and more red the intensity bar gets.
If you want to change any of the sessions, you can either quick change it by right-clicking and using the menu, or left click to go through the UI where you can select each session with explanations for what each session means. You can also drag future sessions to another area to swap if you wish. Note, you cannot change sessions in the past, but that should be obvious.
Players have personalities. Some will love to train and give their all, some will be lazy. Some will want to do more technical training, some will want to do more physical training.
When you have a squad of 20-30 players, it is hard to keep them all happy, so the key to this, in my mind, is to keep training varied.
Training happiness is an indicator for you as the manager to see how your players are taking to the schedules, the mentoring, the personal development that has been provided. If your players are not happy, this can affect their performances, so you should keep an eye out here.
I will cover group and individual training later on, but essentially, when a player isn’t happy I will look to see why this is and see if there’s anything I can do to appease him, for example, can I swap his training focus. To see the reason for their unhappiness or indeed happiness select the group and view the training happiness details which will show you something like “thinks he should be doing more quickness training”.
Players who train well play well. While this might not be fact, in my mind if a player is happy, is enjoying and performing well in training then he gets a go in the first team. For me, a common sign that a player may hit a slump is when their training performances dip.
I don’t have evidence to back this up, but in my world, if you train well, you play. If a player is unhappy with his game time then he needs to show me in training that he is deserving of a starting position. I will generally view training performance and use this as a driver for who makes the first team squad.
A players training rating is based on the last seven-days training. So unlike schedules which are based on a Monday to Sunday week, training ratings are rolling, so today is Saturday so his rating is from the previous Sunday to this Saturday.
Look away now, Samo, but the medical centre within this view is extremely useful for managing the risk to your key players.
I use this part more than any on the overview page to look at which players might need a decrease in their training intensity.
If a player is at an increased injury risk, I will generally look at the reason why and see if there’s remedial action I can take, for example, could I reduce their intensity for a couple of days and reassess later. I could also give them some rest, but I only do this on extreme circumstances. To give them a rest, you right click their name > training > rest > select period. If you’d rather just reduce his intensity you can view the individual training (select the tab at the top) and drop the intensity down, but I’ll cover this more in the individual training section.
You could even exclude them from pitch and gym work, which, as the name suggests excludes the players from any sessions that include physical training. However, it’s important to see why they’re at an increased injury risk. In the example above, it is down to a low match sharpness so rest would compound this issue as it negatively affects sharpness, so match practice and games are needed to increase their sharpness, not rest.
If I have adjusted their intensity, to remind me to swap him back when he’s back to full fitness and his risk of injury has gone, I will add a reminder to him, right click his name > create note > I’ll set a reminder for five days time to review training intensity.
The calendar view is a page I would really like to see changed. It’s a bit busy for my liking, however, it has its use in that it allows me to plan the type of training schedule I want to implement for the coming weeks.
Don’t worry if you forget to set them, your assistant manager will plan these well in advance for you, however, you can change them yourself as long as that week has not already started, e.g., say you wanted to run some attacking training sessions next week, well you have until the Sunday to set the weekly session as once you get to that week, you can only change the sessions one-by-one, rather than setting a training style for that week.
SCHEDULES AND SESSIONS
This is where the magic happens. There are a lot of words to start with, but hopefully, the images I provide after will bring it all to life.
Schedules are weekly blocks of training sessions. Training runs from Monday to Sunday and each schedule can have up to 21 sessions. There’s a limit on the number of sessions you can repeat per week, e.g., you cannot set your team to train attacking movement 21 times a week, and some sessions also require specific staff members to run them.
The first thing to note is that when we have a match, we’re assigned given a match preview session the day before in the extra session slot and recovery session the morning after the match, unless of course, you’re creating your own schedule, in which case you need to add the match to the schedule itself and then these two sessions will be added automatically.
You can change these if you wish, and certain events will also change them automatically, e.g., after a bad result you can demand your players come in the following day for extra training in the post-match team talk, and this will automatically set up the scheduled training in replace of the recovery schedule.
Each session you create is either deemed a team session, whereby the whole team trains together, or is a unit specific session, where each unit is split into their respective units. However, some sessions will distribute the priority given to players into two units equally, e.g., outfield players being defending and attacking units, or by a specialist role, e.g., set-piece takers.
The below gives an example of these groupings.
- All Players – sessions with a primary focus on all players will see everyone in the squad receiving 100% of the focus from the coaches.
- Goalkeeping and Outfield – sessions split this way will see a higher focus on the primary unit than the secondary unit, e.g., the attacking session will see the outfield players receive 80% priority, while the goalkeeping unit will see 20% of the priority.
- Goalkeeping, Defending, and Attacking – sessions split three ways will see the priority split 60/20/20 between the units, with the primary unit receiving 60% of the priority, and the remaining two units receiving 20% each.
- Goalkeeping, Outfield, and Set Piece Takers – sessions can sometimes be split to give focus to a specialist role, e.g., a set piece taker. For certain sessions, e.g., defending corners, set piece takers will receive specific focus on developing their attributes specific to that session.
By grouping into units, this allows the coaches to prioritise their time with the appropriate unit according to the session being trained. It’s a lot to take in at first glance, but once you understand the reason for the session and the attributes trained, it’s easy to quickly put together sessions to focus on particular skillsets on any given week.
Each session will give you an overview of the impacts that the session has on each player. These are broken down into:
- Attributes – the player attributes that the session will focus on improving.
- Tactical Familiarity – how familiar a player is with your team’s style of play and his specific role within the team, i.e., mentality, passing style, creative freedom, pressing intensity, marking, tempo, width, and position/role/duty. You can view a players familiarity by going to his individual training. More on this later on.
- Injury Risk – self-explanatory, but whether or not the player is likely to have an increase or decrease injury risk due to the session.
- Fatigue – As above, whether or not the session will increase or decrease player fatigue.
- Condition – whether or not the player will see an increase or decrease in their physical fitness due to the session.
- Sharpness – whether or not the session will improve or decrease match sharpness.
- Happiness – whether or not the session is likely to affect the player’s happiness. I believe the only session to negatively affect happiness is endurance training, which makes sense.
- Team Cohesion – whether or not the session will improve the teams level of understanding of each other. An important aspect when you first take over a club, or when you’ve taken on a lot of signings in a window.
- Upcoming Match – a short-term boost for the next match, which can either be for teamwork (boosts pressing), defensive shape (boosts marking) or attacking movement (boosts passing)
The below is an example of the attacking session under general training which should bring some of the above into focus. Firstly, you can see that the session is broken down into two units, Outfield (80%) and Goalkeeping (20%), with the outfield players receiving 60% and another 20% priority whereas the Goalkeeping unit receives the secondary priority of 20%.
The impacts to the outfield players are:
- Attributes (60% priority) – crossing, dribbling, finishing, first touch, heading, long shots, passing, technique, composure, flair, off the ball, vision
- Attributes (20% priority) – heading, marking, tackling, technique, aggression, anticipation, concentration, decisions, positioning, teamwork, work rate
- Tactical Familiarity – creative freedom
- Injury Risk – slightly increased
- Condition – slightly reduced
- Happiness – increased
- Team Cohesion – slightly increased
The impact on to the goalkeeping unit is:
- Attributes (20% priority) – aerial reach, handling, one on ones, reflexes, agility, positioning, command of area, communication, anticipation, concentration, decisions.
- Tactical Familiarity – creative freedom
- Injury Risk – slightly increased
- Condition – slightly reduced
- Happiness – slightly increased
- Team Cohesion – slightly increased
It goes without saying that sessions with more attributes covered will see less attention to each attribute, and thus the progression of that attribute will be slower than using a more concentrated session with fewer attributes trained.
I won’t go into all the schedules and sessions, I think you can do that in the game and see what impacts they have on training, but at the end of this post, I will show my training and how I approach each session.
Your squad is split into three training units; goalkeeping unit, defensive unit and the attacking unit. This is to enable the correct priority to be applied for certain training sessions as outlined above.
From this area, you can also set the individual player focus for their position/role/duty training. Moreover, you can also invite youth team players to come train with the first team, by using the Add/Remove Reserve or Youth Team player to First Team training drop down top right.
Essentially, putting a player into a specific unit will determine what training focus he receives for each training session. So for example, if you have a session that is split into attacking, defensive and goalkeeping, then moving a player from the defensive unit to the attacking unit will mean that his training impacts will be specific to the attacking unit, rather than the defensive unit.
In the example below, if you moved a wing-back from the defensive unit to the attacking unit, during an Attacking Wings session, he would receive 60% of the coaches focus, and have a different set of attributes impacted compared with the defensive unit training which receives only 20% of the focus.
Tutoring is gone, and it’s about time.
We now have the ability to create mentoring groups. Think of mentoring as a way for the more senior players at the squad to guide the younger players. By creating these groups, those within will pass on personality and player traits. More experienced players will have a bigger influence on those less experienced.
In the above scenario, Richard Keogh is a team leader and Marcus Olsson is an influential player at the club. Both players are seniors and so I’ve grouped them with one younger first team player, and one youth player who has the highest potential at the club.
You can also get an idea of how suitable the senior players are for mentoring, as your coaches will point out key personality traits, like whether the player is a complete role model for younger players.
These influential players have the following traits between them: brings the ball out of defence, runs with ball down right, gets forward whenever possible, knocks ball past opponent, and hugs line. All desirable traits that I hope can be passed onto Jayden.
In order to have Jayden join this mentoring group, however, I have had to move him to the first team squad from the under 18s and made him available for the under 18s. This is because you cannot mentor players if they’re not in the same squad, which makes perfect sense because kids do not train and associate with the senior squad on any of their sessions as a whole, it’s usually just a select few.
Generally, what I like to do is have at least one senior player from the core social group and who is close to the top of the team hierarchy with at least two young players. Sometimes it might be a 1:3 ratio, sometimes 2:4 or in this example I have 2:2 with two senior and two youth players.
There’s no right or wrong way, but you must have at least three players, so I try to make sure I have more youth players than senior to get the most benefit.
Individual training is where I like to refine the player and mould him to the role I want him to play.
If you leave this blank then he will be trained for his current position. What I try to do is always train them for the role I want them to do to make sure we’re concentrating on their key attributes for that role.
For the additional focus, if my player needs further refinement I will usually set this to something sensible for his role. Mason Mount is a wonderkid and I am using him as an Advanced Playmaker in the AMC strata. As a result, I want him to have great agility and balance. If you hover over the options available, you will see what each selection will train.
There are three categories and under these a number of focuses that train specific attributes. Note that if you use an injury rehab focus, it will be removed automatically when the player returns to full training so you will need to set a new focus if you intend for him to keep training specific attributes.
- Quickness – acceleration and pace
- Agility and Balance – agility and balance
- Strength – strength, jumping reach and aerial reach
- Endurance – stamina
- General Rehab – acceleration, agility, balance, jumping reach, pace, strength, stamina and aerial reach
- Free Kick Taking – free kick taking and technique
- Corners – corners and technique
- Penalty Taking – penalty taking and technique
- Long Throws – long throws
- Quickness – acceleration and pace
- Agility and Balance – agility and balance
- Strength – strength, jumping reach and aerial reach
- Endurance – stamina and work rate
- Defensive Positioning – marking, positioning and decisions
- Attacking Movement – off the ball, anticipation and decisions
- Final Third – composure, decision and vision
- Shooting – finishing, long shots and technique
- Passing – first touch, passing and technique
Adding an additional focus will increase the training workload on a player. Players will high levels of professionalism tend to be happier with training and more likely to take on extra work you assign him. You can view a players professionalism in the reports page (select the player > reports > coach report), and here you will usually see something like the below.
As discussed in the overview section, you can change a player’s intensity level when required. I will typically do this for older players who perhaps don’t have the legs anymore and are unlikely to develop much more. So I will reduce their intensity during busy periods to keep them fresher for matches.
I’ve highlighted this in red above as it’s not easy to see, but you can request your coaches try to teach players specific player traits. Player traits are useful if you want your player to attempt certain moves during a game. For example, if you have a player out wide with great acceleration and pace then you can ask him to try to learn to knock balls bast his opponent.
I am always looking for players to learn traits that are particularly useful to have for the role and position of the pitch they’re going to be playing.
I won’t go into to much detail here because all the information you need has already been expertly covered by Cleon in this blog post.
The training intensity can adversely impact a player. From here you can reduce the intensity of training where players condition meets a certain value.
Moreover, you can set the training intensity for individuals where there might be an increased injury risk.
Typically I prefer to manage intensity at an individual level, but it is useful to be able to do this where a players condition drops below a certain level.
Coaches are split into five areas, with each area led by one coach (the highest rated). These areas are:
- Goalkeeping – shot stopping, handling and distribution
- Defending – technical, and tactical
- Attacking – technical, and tactical
- Possession – technical, and tactical
- Fitness – strength, and quickness
In order to maximise the effectiveness of your staff, you’re probably better off heading into the coach responsibilities section by selecting Edit Coach Assignments.
If you hover over each coach, you will see a summary of their attributes appear below. You want to make sure your best coach is assigned to just one area if possible, otherwise, the quality of their training sessions is affected, and the star rating will reduce.
You will see their best training category displayed to you, so you’re going to want to make sure they’re at least covering this training area.
You will see two key ratings on this page, coach workload and lead coach rating. What I will generally look to try and do is have one specialist for each area, so my lead coach with the highest rating working on just one area, and then some general coaches to cover multiple areas to reduce the coach workload. This way I get high levels of quality coaching without the reduction in effort due to being stretched too thin. Obviously, this isn’t possible at every club, but if you can, it’s best to spread the workload this way I find.
MY TRAINING SCHEDULES
So now that I’ve given an overview of how I think training works and how I see myself using it, the below is an example of some of the training that I have set up at Derby, a team I have been using to familiarise myself with training.
I will take you through one game week. We have two matches to make it more interesting, one in the League Cup against Oxford United who are in the league below, and then a Saturday game against Millwall. Because I think I should be beating both of these teams, I’m using a technical based schedule this week, with plenty of attacking training.
Jody Morris, my assistant manager, shows me the training sessions for the next two weeks. I will usually only plan one week at a time. Yesterday (Sunday), I planned to use my ‘technical [tue/sat]’ schedule, which allows for two games in the week and technical training. I also have a ‘technical [sat]’ schedule which has more technique based training with some room for individual development.
It’s the day before a cup match against Oxford United. They’re in the league below us so I’ve set up some attacking movement training in the morning, which should see us receive a slight boost to our passing and also some attacking corners training, followed by a match preview in the afternoon session which is where we will take our tactical briefing.
It’s important to have your system you intend to use selected and players in place on the tactics page before the match preview session to get the most out of the tactical briefing.
Tuesday Matchday, I leave this as rest either side as there’s really no need or desire to add anything else these days.
Wednesday We have a team recovery session in the morning which will focus on recovery and injury prevention. Since we’re early into the season, I’ve added a team bonding session for the afternoon which will see teamwork increased for both attribute-based and for the upcoming match. It will slightly reduce our condition which isn’t too bad at this stage of the season, and the increase to team cohesion and happiness more than make up for it. Fatigue is also slightly reduced, although that shouldn’t be a factor at this stage of the season. You can see the intensity is minimal.
Thursday I want us to focus on some technical training, so I’ve set up some ball retention and ball distribution training. These two sessions are lots of work with the ball and as the title probably shows, it focuses the players on retaining and distributing the ball effectively, which is very important for the tactical style I’ve implemented.
Friday Another day of attacking movement and attacking corner training. We should be beating Millwall, so we’ll be training with that in mind. If this was more of a difficult game, I would change my sessions to be more defensive positioning and defending corners as I could expect to be under to cosh a lot more.
Sunday Recovery. No afternoon session, so we’re ready to jump into next weeks training nice and fresh.
As you can see, there’s nothing really scientific for how I approach my training on a week-by-week basis. I look at the fixtures we have and make sure I have some form of match preparation training. I will try to do some set-piece work and then either some technical or physical training. I try to mix up the schedules to make sure the players are getting good levels of training where they need them.
It’s important to me that all players receive priority focus, which means including goalkeeping sessions (outfield players will concentrate on their role training here), defending and attacking sessions.
Generally speaking, preseason starts with two-weeks light training, two-weeks more intensive, and then a final two-weeks of heavy training as fitness levels improve.
Early in the season, I will look to use sessions that increase sharpness and teamwork, then focus on physical training through the middle of the season and towards the end I tail off the physical training and do more lighter, ball work to reduce the injuries. I try to keep the sessions balanced over each month, with plenty of development on attributes and player roles.
All the while I will look at each individual to make sure they’re happy with their training, and we’re seeing development. I will monitor their individual training to make sure they’re benefiting from it, and change if needed.
I don’t think there’s a plug-and-play answer to my training as I create the schedules on the fly for each week ahead, reusing them if needed, but generally tailoring them as the weeks go by. So my technical sessions could still be changed in the week if I think we need to focus on something else. They’re just templates I use and change as and when.
That is all for this post. As mentioned before this isn’t meant to be a how-to post, but more a view on my approach to training with some information I’ve picked up along the way. There will be more technical posts out by people far more knowledgeable on the subject than me I’m sure. But I hope this might have been of some use to you.
If you have any questions or want to get in touch with anything training, send me a message on Twitter @fmFutbolManager, or you can reply to this post below and I’ll get back to you. I’d love to hear your thoughts and see if there’s anything you do differently that I can adapt for my game.
Until next time.