FM Player Development

Updated for FM 15

Player Development Model – the basics

When you start getting requests for training advice perhaps my explanations weren’t good enough. Then again, this gives me the perfect chance to lay out a model that I can easily replicate for any club that has the necessary facilities and coaches. To reiterate there is information in other blog posts where I deal with youth training. Here I explain what I do with them at their various ages and when they go on loan. The key point there is how I handle match preparation training and the loads. Player Preferred Moves is also an important facet of training. And here I talk about the knock on effects to Current Ability.

Thats basically some of the background information. Theres information littered everywhere about my training schedules but this blog post will try and fit them all in here. A player will develop optimally given:

  • the right facilities and coaching
  • quality playing time
  • focused training

Facilities & Coaching

You players will still develop if you have average coaches and facilities, but if you want them to develop optimally, you need those five star coaches and you need the facilities. The quicker you get them the better the chances of optimal player development. Thats just one piece of the puzzle. If you want to go down the road of player development, this has to be your first priority and its not cheap. Your club will spend 2.5m quid a season and will need the full complement of 18 coaches. Where you can get youth coaches, get them.  You can use filters to great effect to find them, the best way is just to pinch em from other clubs.

Quality Playing Time

Many ask the question – how much time. To be honest as much as you can possibly provide, and to make things even need to win. You can’t just toss in the players into matches you expect to lose, and hope they develop, cos that won’t happen. Player performances have a knock on effect to player development. If a player does well in a match, he does better in training and then he carries that into game performance. Its all linked.

Personally I use the rule of 25. Once a player can join the senior team, I expect him to play 25 games. I find thats the best number, whether I am right or wrong is subjective. Some players with the right mental attributes need fewer games and others need more. So I use 25 as a good guide. It makes it easier for me to track and so far I’ve found that this works. What I typically do is this:

15-17  Player is in the U-18s team, they learn all their ppms by the time they are 17.

17-19 Players start getting runs in the senior team and they are moved to the reserves. Good players are identified at 19 for promotion to senior sides

19> any player who can’t slot into a senior team is put on loan. There need to be at least 5 players who are going to get a run in the senior team. These players end up playing as covers.

By the time a player is in the reserves his training will focus on his role, because by then his ppms should be covered. A player can learn as many ppms as he needs to, I am not sure what the upper limit is. Don’t get fixated by ppms, I find that for the key roles they usually need only 5 ppms, some can even get by with 3 like basic central defenders,anything more is usually unnecessary and a waste of time. Training ppms takes a player away from player development so he really needs to get back to role training asap.

So when it comes to training youth, you need a clear plan. You must know what position they will play and you must get them to learn their ppms. Waste time and you waste development. Thats basically it when it comes to ppms and player training loads.

Screen Shot 2013-02-24 at 2.04.09 AM

Training Plans

Essentially when you train players you need to manage things realistically. They have a fixed amount of time for training

Ok time for me to put my training schedule up for both my senior team and my youth team. First up just some general information on the time a player has for training:

If we look at total time a player has for training, this is affected by injuries, international commitments, personality, coaching and facilities. Now if I assume that he has 100% total time and when you consider that his general intensity is set to very low, low, average, high, very high and then you see match preparation slider set to 0-50% of his time its apparent that a players total time for training is split between General Training and Match Preparation.

Now if a player doesn’t do any specific training, then the coaching team trains him in his natural position, and the amount of time he spends training on that is between 50%-100% So if you were to set his match prep slider to 40% he only gets the temporary boost to his Current ability that “helps” him during a game. Sometimes this boost will kick into his training so that even that gets a short term boost. Training tends to be cyclical so good training performances, lead to good match performances, and good match performances lead to positive training results.

One has to decide how much time they spend on match preparation. Since match preparation boosts are temporary, but necessary for good results, i set it to 40% for the first month to get my team off to a good start. During this time a side can struggle for cohesion especially if there are a lot of new players match preparation helps to smooth out the edges so to speak.

So after the first three months I usually drop the match preparation intensity to 10%, that still leaves the team some time on match preparation, but the player now spends more of his time on either his natural position training or on whatever specialized training you want him to do.

The Guardiola Focused Training Program

General Trg Intensity Match Prep Focus Intensity
JULY Fitness High 40% Light
AUG Ball Control Low 10% Heavy
SEPT Ball Control Low 10% Heavy
OCT Ball Control Low 10% Heavy
NOV Ball Control Low 10% Heavy
DEC Ball Control Low 10% Heavy
JAN Tactics Low 10% Heavy
FEB Tactics Low 10% Heavy
MAR Tactics Low 10% Heavy
APR Tactics Low 10% Heavy
MAY Tactics Low 10% Heavy
Fitness All Physical Attributes and Workrate
Tactical Anticipation, Composure, Decisions, Concentration, Teamwork
Ball Control Dribbling, First Touch, Heading, Technique, Flair
Defending Marking, Tackling, Positioning
Attacking Crossing, Finishing,   Long Shots, Passing, Off the Ball, Vision

So assuming a player has 100% training time in total. By Aug, he will only spend 10% of his time on  match preparation, and 90% of that time on General Training. If you want a player to have focused development you can give him specific training. Then that time will then be divided like this:

Screen Shot 2013-02-24 at 2.04.09 AM

General Training can be set from 20% – 100. the blue area, so if you set it to low, then its 20%, leaving 80% of that time to be spent elsewhere. If he does nothing, he doesn’t develop. So we have individual focus which now can be set from Light, Average and Heavy. Setting Heavy would ensure that he spends his max focus on his specific individual training.

However if you set him to do PPM, then this reduces the amount of time he has for his role training, which is why its critical to do ppms before they hit 19. Get them out of the way FAST.

My approach for youth teams is different, for my youth team I skew this heavily on ball control for the three years they are with me in the U-18 side and then once they hit the senior squad they join the senior program. Its only because I value first touch very highly in my team, Pep Guardiola when he was interviewed answered that the first attribute he looks for in any player is first touch. Even if the player was a great tackler, if his first touch was poor, he’d never play. I follow that school of thought when setting out training.


For me the ages 15-21 are the most important years for player development. This is the time when I usually optimize their development, by the time they hit 21 their direction is fairly clear. I will know if that player is going to be a potentially important member of the team or someone who’s on his way.

My model is very simple. Between 15-17, they are on ball control and learn their ppms. By the time they are 18 the top 5 join the main team, the rest are in the reserves and chances are unless they do really well, they are usually on their way out. Only rarely have I seen a player emerge from the reserves make a strong challenge. The 5 become my focus for development. I repeat the cycle at the start of the next season and by then I should have 10 players to choose from 5 will go on sale and the rest start earning their colors. I usually never train players ppms once they hit 20. By then its full on player development via role specific training. If a player needs to improve specific attributes that are KEY to their position then they focus on those attributes.


  1. Great analysis but I have some questions for you. Is training time fixed? Let’s assume match preparation training is 0%. Is training time the same when you have gen. training very low – individual focus low and when you have gen. training very high – individual focus high? If yes, what’s the difference between these two situations?

    1. Training time is fixed. A player has X total time, then you have General/Match/Focus. In the simplest terms, you have little control of the spread of General Training, which is why we keep it low. We have better control of focus training, so we keep that thats around 80% of training time, simply put. 10% to General Training and 10% to Match with the balance being placed in Focus training. Naturally ppm training will take a chunk out of Focus training

      1. And its not the same when you set low gen low focus, then you are wasting training time, since match prep training does little for attribute increase. And if you do high general and high focus your workload will be very high and a player will get injured. So you need to make sure his workload doesn’t hit Very High, and you also need to make sure the coach’s workload is light by making sure enough coaches are training.

      2. “And its not the same when you set low gen low focus, then you are wasting training time, since match prep training does little for attribute increase.”
        What about low gen low focus with 0% match training?

      3. low gen, low focus, 0% match prep..the player has next to nothing for workload…so you are not making the most out of his training time

  2. Then why workload increases if you change from very low general – low focus to very high general – high focus? Why players get more tired (or unhappy with the workload) if they get trained for the same time? Is just intensity, as it says? They train the same time but just harder? Then why increasing focus training intensity (for example) increases focus training time (over gen. training time)?

    1. Workload is like this…Player A in 1 hr must run 10km…= Low intensity, Same Player 1hr told to run 20km = High intensity. When you change focus intensity, you are squeezing in more effort in the same time period. So a player will get tired/injured and if his professionalism is low-unhappy.

      1. OK, now I get it about intensity. But, if you have gen. training low – focus low time is 50 -50 or sth (I suppose). If you have gen. training low – focus high is 20 – 80 (approximately), as you said. So, in this case, by changing focus intensity you also change the time period for focus training, not just more effort.

      2. I will be doing a video should be going on youtube soon on the BusttheNet channel. Essentially, a player has a fixed time for Training..which is split between General and Match.

        When you set overall load to low or high this affects how much time they have left for individual focus training.

        if you set low General and low focus…he isn’t training..its like doing light workout, but if you set GT to low and individual to max out his “effort” he focuses more on training and this in turn allows you to develop the player

        Time is fixed…i don’t think SI did a great job on the training module so the word “focus intensity” gets confusing…just think in terms of a fixed time and how hard you work during that time..that should make it easier.

        Remember if you set both Gen and Individual focus to low then any training to ppms and new role get you always want the player to max out the time or effort for individual training.

        As long as a player is not getting a heavy workload or a light workload you are fine.

      3. Surely not a great job by SI. Sorry for persisting but I need to clarify some things.
        – “When you set overall load to low or high this affects how much time they have left for individual focus training.”
        So General training intensity changes how FIXED training time is divided between General training and focus. Something like a hidden slider similar to that of match preparation.
        – “just think in terms of a fixed time and how hard you work during that time..that should make it easier”
        And focus intensity just affects the amount of work done during time left.
        With these in mind, and by setting match training to zero, I made this chart showing how general and focus intensity affect the overall workload (percentages of time spent are not accurate, just an estimation).
        As you can see if, for example, you change from Very Low – Heavy to Low – Heavy overall workload changes from Medium to Heavy. The only difference between them is 15% of total time previously used for Heavy Focus Training now used for General training. This can only mean two things. Gen. training intensity affects how training time is divided between General training and focus AND also how hard they work during general training time or general training is more tiring than heavy focus training something that I believe is highly unrealistic.
        So here are my final 2 (hopefully for you) questions.
        1) Are we 100% sure that changing general training intensity affects how time is splitted? Can we exclude the possibility that how time is divided between general and focus is fixed and we can only set how difficult each part of the training easy?
        2) And if the answer to the previous one is yes, does General Training Intensity affect both how time is divided and how hard players work during general training time?
        PS: I apologize for my poor English.

      4. Also check what the online manual says:
        “‘General Training’ allows you to set up a Default Focus and Intensity for how the team should work as a rule of thumb. Select one area for the team to generally work on, and determine how hard you want them to work at it.”
        Only mentioning intensity (how hard), not time.
        “The ‘Individual Training Focus’ aspect of development allows you to target a specific area of a player’s attribute profile and focus extra work on it. For example, you may have a talented defender who is lacking a bit in the heading department. In order to try and address this, you can select ‘Heading’ as an individual focus. If it’s particularly weak, increasing the intensity will request that he works at it harder and for a longer period of time.”
        Both intensity and time here…

      5. Maybe I have confused more than I have helped:

        Total training time is split between General and Match. The max prep time is 50% of total training time
        Then you have intensity affecting workload. If a player has been set with 50% Match Prep he has 50% left for General training…That 50% can be spent on either the training programs as a team and individual training. If you do not choose any individual focus he trains his playng position.

        You can choose where he should work on more by intensity. He can either work hard with the whole team under General training or he can focus on building his skills – Individual focus.

        Under Individual focus a player can split the time further into 3 areas, his role, a new role or ppms. His intensity is = to the intensity you set under individual training.

        So if you set 50% match prep he has 50% left..that 50% is for General (individual Training). A player has a total workload he can handle(Intensity). If you choose his intensity to be high for General and high for Individual then his development is curtailed.

        The only thing time affects is the split between Match/General and the Individual training areas. Time is fixed, Intensity isn’t

      6. I am not so confused as I may seem. I understand how match training works. I understand total training time is fixed. The one thing I don’t understand is how you can decide how to split the time between general and individual training. You said in a previous comment that you can do it by altering general intensity. Online manual says by altering individual intensity. Maybe by both?

      7. Ultimately you want individual workload to be between medium and heavy for optimum development. To get there you set training schedule to be 10% match prep. Balance will be General
        Training. Now if you set General
        training to low intensity, individual workload will be light so there is room for development. Therefore adjust individual focus training to heavy. The individual workload training is now heavy

      8. Although I appreciate your effort and your answers, my question stills remain unanswered. Suppose I don’t care about match training, I don’t care about intensity or how hard my players train and the only thing I want is to maximize the TIME my players spend on individual training. How can I achieve this?

      9. If you dont care about match prep training set it to 0. Then General Training is 100%

      10. And then this 100% is divided between team training and individual training. But how? 50-50? 20-80? And how can I change the ratio? By adjusting general intensity or individual? Or both? I clearly feel we have a communication gap 🙂

      11. Tbh SI doesn’t publish how Gen Trg and Individual, only Gen & Match. What we have seen is that if a players individual workload is very heavy then he gets injured etc, the ideal target is heavy. And we get that by adjusting General Training Intensity and individual focus intensity.

    1. In the context of setting your general training to “Light” then setting individual to “Heavy” is the way to go. If you check how each player is doing you will notice their overall load levels. Some of mine are medium or heavy but none are light of very heavy, and that’d the best I can get

    2. Hitting heavy is the best individually but some players will end up with individual loads at medium. Here I would say – as long as NOONE is very heavy for individual its optimal.

  3. Hello, since you cannot edit individual training intensity in FM 16, do you still recommend putting general team training to low?

Leave a Reply