Making the Most of Player Attributes and Traits in FM18

Understanding player attributes and player traits is the first step in unlocking and understanding each role in the game. Understanding what attributes do, help you see what a team is capable of.  This in turn can help us create unique styles based on a pattern of attributes which many people have identified as a “Club DNA”. This is a list of attributes that define the kind of players you are looking for and in turn this can define how your side plays. The term was introduced by someone on the forums way back in FM12.

For example if you are non-league side and eager to over achieve, focusing on physical attributes will allow your team to muscle its way to success. You can make your side defiant in defending and deadly at destroying opponents defences, by choosing key outfield players with good acceleration. These players can exploit spaces behind defensive lines when you are on the counter. Teams with low composure and anticipation will be vulnerable to a high defensive line which you can utilise with a defensive strategy, minimising your risk while increasing the pressure on the opposite team. You increase pressure on the opposite team, by having outfield players with high acceleration and off the ball to run at them on the break.

Once you have a clear idea what your Club DNA is, the next step is understanding the roles. The in-game tool tips describe each role well, but here’s a tip. When you are in doubt, open the edit instructions for each role. 

Let’s take the example of a Shadow Striker.

The in-game description states that this is a player that operates as the main goal scoring threat. He works with a deep-lying forward and aggressively moves forward into goal-scoring positions and looks to close down opposing players when not having the ball. If you try to edit his instructions you will notice all these personal instructions are locked out:

• Closing down, Move Into Channels, Dribble More,  More Risky Passes

This gives you the indication that this player takes risks, moves into vertical spaces and works really hard to pressure the opposition. 

To find out what kind of player fits this bill via attributes, just assign one of your players to be trained as a Shadow Striker.  When you go to the Player Profile page, there is a button on the right of his attributes that allows you to see what attributes are important for the role. In the case of the Shadow Striker he has 16 attributes. There are some key attributes and some preferable ones, and there are some custom skins that indicate these if you are keen to find out.

The next step is setting up some common qualities in your side. I usually like referring to this as Core Attributes. This sets up the broad attributes you need for the Defend/Support and Attack roles in your side.  Our focus in this article is seeing how Player Traits can help us produce unique styles of play in our players, this in turn can have a pretty big impact on how our tactics play out.


Player Traits ( this used to be called Player Preferred Moves) are those special extras that players are capable of doing in a match. These can give each role a unique flavour. For instance, you can tell a player to stay wide and dribble down the flanks, or you can teach a central midfielder to drop back and dictate play. It’s a good tool to create unique styles of play. This should always be the last thing you focus on since it can take almost 6 months for a ppm to be learned.

Two player traits have been added to FM18. These are “ Early Crosses” and “Brings Ball out of Defence”.

Sports Interactive has now made a game that allows for tactical identity to come from PPMs in the game. These allow you to use specific players to create unique styles of football. 

Brings ball out of Defence (BBOOD) is a great trait for defenders to learn. It adds another dynamic to 3 man defences, allowing players to surge forward with the ball playing passes and dictating play. It is an PPM that gets us to develop tactics that allow us to turn our defenders into pivots for ball possession, and is a useful trait for players to learn. A defender will need good decisions, first touch, dribbling and vision to pull this trait off well.

Crosses early solves another problem in the game. Wingers on attack duty only have one option which is to cross from the byeline. Sometimes you may want to create some diversity in your tactic, so this becomes a good ppm to learn if you opting to create varied crossing styles within your own game.

Is there a preferred set for certain players? This is where it gets rather complicated. Personally I believe its possible but very difficult, which is why my answer will be that there is no pre-set list of PPMs per position. You need to look at your roles in the team and then determine what PPMs will help enhance that position. And that’s the best way forward. Don’t stick in PPM for the sake of it, always consider the bigger picture of how your side should play. I can go entire seasons without even bothering to train PPMs in players. I usually wait till I find the right combination of players in my youth team. If I find that this will be core of my future team. That’s when I begin. Let’s try one example

I have an explosive fullback down the right who’s the focus of many of my attacks and a winger on the left who rips defences to shreds. To get these guys the latitude they need I know I need to have someone in the middle of the park setting the tempo for the whole game and switching defence to attack. Its very much how Barcelona play. When they have the ball in their half they pass it around casually, but then a switch goes off in midfield and suddenly they start moving the ball around at lightning pace to unlock defences.

Here I would be looking to train a player to Dictate Tempo, Switch Ball to Other Flanks and Play Killer Ball.

Some  PPMs can be taught by coaches and others can only be learnt via tutoring. A 17 year old player can learn 5 PPMs by the time he is 20, and by then he should have been with the club for 3 seasons earning home grown status. By then you can either start giving him time with the first team, or continue his development. Personally I continue players development, making sure they are capable in at least two positions. That takes one season, and you can put the player on loan once he’s ready and force the loaning club to play him in the position you want.

Some people may dislike training Player Traits, but imagine the variety of play you can achieve. To give you an example I had a defender who could also play as a midfielder, at the age of 17 I got him to learn these player traits, and he naturally developed a very good passing game.

-Likes to dictate tempo
-Likes to play killer balls
-Gets Forward whenever possible

My winger on the left had dribbling of 15, composure of 15, acceleration of 18 and pace of 15. With really good ball control skills I gave him the task of

– Get forward whenever possible
– Runs with balls often
– Plays simple one twos
– Knocks ball past opponents
– Places shots

You can teach players these traits and you can also get them to unlearn them. One thing you will need to do is to ensure that you understand your tactic first before applying player traits. I have certain guidelines that I follow:

I will get my playmakers to learn player traits that encourage them to dictate the game and look for killer passes, and I will also get players to knock the ball past opponent if they have good acceleration. In all cases I will understand my tactical system first before applying any player traits in the game. While they can be useful in creating styles, thoughtlessly applying them can also unbalance your system.

So the next time you are evaluating your squad, take a step back and look at the big picture that comes with understanding how player traits can influence the performance of a player. Do you have any players with unique player trait combinations in your game? And don’t forget to follow the adventures of my Ajax team on FM18 to see how we incorporate this and other strategies into the development of our youth players.

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