IntroEverybody dreams of masterminding a team full of regens to countless titles but how do you develop your regens in to the stars of the future? Is there some sort of secret formula? No, there is no set writing in stone for developing players. How you develop your players is up to you and every manager has a different style of coaching. In this guide, I offer my knowledge on developing youth players. I'm not saying that it is perfect but it has offered me a lot of good results, most notably in the graphic below (FM13). Like I said, there is no wrong or right way to train your players but consider what is in this guide.
Team TrainingTeam training is the general training which the players in your team undergo. This is where your players will receive most of their education on the training ground as they work together to develop their skills in a similar manner. There are numerous aspects to team training including training focus, training intensity, scheduling and rest days before/after matches.
- Training Focus: This is the area of football which your team will focus on in training. The options to focus on are as follows: Balanced, Fitness, Tactics, Ball Control, Defending, Attacking, Team Cohesion. During pre-season, you may wish to focus on Fitness, Tactics or Team Cohesion in order to prepare your squad for the new season. Like I said earlier, your training can be however you like it to be, although I do recommend setting your training focus to the type of football which you have your team play. For me, I play very technical, possession football, so I have the training focus set to Ball Control to make my players more comfortable on the ball. If you play defensive football, set your focus to Defending, etc.
- Training Intensity: This is how hard you work your team in training. There are five levels available, ranging from Very Low to Very High. The harder you work your team, the more training they get but it increases the chances of injury, it tires out your players more and they are more likely to be unhappy with training. I would personally set it to Average but you can tinker with it to find what suits your team best.
- Scheduling: This is how you schedule general training and match-focused training. The more match training scheduled, the less general training you have, and vice versa. The more match training you do, the more prepared you are for your games. However, if you focus too much on match training, your players may not benefit as they lose out on valuable general team training. I personally spend 20%-30% of team training on match preparation, so that I can use the rest of the time to strengthen the team in the areas I wish.
- Rest Days Before/After Matches: Rest days are days when your team has no training at all. You can have rest days before matches and rest days after matches. I personally only have rest days after matches so that my players don’t miss out on training but if you find your fixture list congested with 4+ games in the space of two weeks, it would be a good idea to rest your players so that they do not get injured and they have more recovery time between fixtures.
Individual TrainingThis is where you define each individual player in the way which you want them to play. For example, you could turn a fast, technical attacking midfielder in a patient, creative deep lying playmaker with the correct training. There are three aspects to individual training: Individual Role/Specific Attribute, Positonal & Preferred Player Moves.
- Individual Roles/Specific Attribute: This is where you finetune a player’s attributes through focus on a certain set of attributes (individual role) or a single, specific attribute. You should always look to train individual roles rather than just one attribute, as this will see that player develop quickly in a whole set of different attributes. However, if you see the opportunity to improve a single attribute which would make the player more valuable, then you should focus on that specific attribute. There are three different intensities available: Light, Average & Heavy. I prefer to keep it on Average unless the player has high Work Rate, Professionalism & Determination, as they could easily become unhappy if they find the training is too intense for them.
- Positional: Here you can train a player to be able to play in a different position. Before you do this, you should take in to account whether or not the player has suitable attributes to play in that position and even then, he may struggle to adjust to play there. However, this could be very useful for versatile players to learn new positions as it gives you more options in your line-up, as well as making your players more well-rounded.
- Preferred Player Moves: These are skills or habits (PPMs) which players pick up through tutoring, training or naturally. They range from Placing Shots to Diving In To Tackles and there are plenty for every type of player. If you think that a certain PPM would suit one of your players and would be good for them to have in their locker, have a coach teach him one as this could certainly make that player more effective on the pitch.
Coaching Staff & FacilitiesA large part of a player’s development comes down to the quality of the coaching staff that train him. If you don’t have good coaches, your players won’t benefit from them, quite simply. When you’re looking at coaches to bring in to your team, you should look for coaches with high Determination, Motivating, the ability to speak the language of your club’s nation, proven experience and they are good in a certain coaching area, such as Attacking or Defending, etc. It would be a good idea to bring in coaches who speak the same language as some of the foreign players in your team, as your foreign players may find it easier to communicate with them rather than domestic-born coaches.
Just as with your coaching staff; the better your facilities, the more your players will improve. It is important to constantly develop your facilities to the highest possible level in order to get the best out of your players. On a side note, better facilities also attracts better players to your club, so you should keep that in mind too. However, on another side note, you need to be careful that you do not spend too much money on facilities as your club may fall short on FFP regulations due to large spending. All in all, better coaches and better facilities develop your players better.
TutoringWhat is tutoring in FM? This is when experienced players, under your demands, take younger, less experienced players under their wing on and off the training ground. Tutors will help younger players to settle in to the squad, they will make them comfortable with training, be a friend to them, and help develop their attributes. It is important for your tutors to have good mental attributes and to be of a similar personality to the player you wish to be tutored. You may find that if a young player enjoyed their tutoring experience, they might have picked up a Preferred Player Move from the tutor. As well as seeing the young player become more intelligent on the pitch, tutoring will help bring your squad together, if used correctly.
Game Time & HappinessThe one thing that every young player needs to develop is time on the pitch getting first-team experience. ‘Oh well I can just send them out on loan and see how they do’ – is not the answer, in most cases. The odds are that you will end up loaning your players out to clubs with a lesser coaching staff and poor facilities, meaning that they could not possibly reach their potential. This is alright if you’re planning on loaning out youth players who don’t have the potential to become star players for you. If you have youth player who has the potential to become a very good player for your team’s standard, give him some time in your first team in less important games to give him experience. This way he links up with his future team-mates, he gets on better with you and you can dictate how he trains, rather than an untrustworthy manager possibly destroying his career for his own benefit. ‘Well in that case, when do I give my youth players game time?’ Once your youth player begins to have the ability to be somewhat useful for your first team, you should look at your fixture list and decide which games you can risk playing them in. The more games they play, the quicker they develop. However, you should be careful that they do not pick up an injury as senior football is a lot more physical than youth football.
Coming to the last piece of developing youth players, and one of the most important in my opinion, is the happiness of your youth players. If your players are not happy, they will not put in the effort and will therefor not improve at a desired rate. You need to constantly check on your youth players to see if they are happy with their training and in general and if they are not happy, find an effective solution quickly. If you can keep your youth players happy, they will develop quickly and they will play better for the club.