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FM12 Guide - Training & Match Preparation

FM2012 Training Masterclass is an updated version of its FM2011 predecessor

By Updated on Nov 06, 2011   197286 views   5 comments
Football Manager Guides - FM12 Guide - Training & Match Preparation
This article is an updated version of the ‘FM2011 Training Masterclass’, and will go through the training and match preparation modules in Football Manager 2012 – how it works, what’s changed from FM2011, what all the sliders do and how to utilise them properly. All info presented in this article is factual, confirmed by the developers either through personal messages or through the official SI forum. Any speculative information will be noted as such.

You can read the original article at for fancier text formatting and of course, comments.

Training Categories

There are nine different training categories – two of them are fitness related, two of them are goalkeeping related, and the other five are general training. All categories affect visible player attributes only, and you can read more about what player attributes do and how they interact with each other in the Player Attributes Explained article.

The first important thing to know is that all related attributes in a training category have an equal chance of increasing. As an example; the strength training category affects jumping, natural fitness, stamina, strength and work rate, but none of the attributes have higher priority than the others – they all have an equal chance of increasing if you’re training the strength category. Although it takes longer to increase an attribute from 19->20 than from 10->11, that doesn’t affect the chance of the attribute being trained.

Lets go through the training categories one by one:

Strength (physical training)

This category controls 5 attributes: Jumping, Natural Fitness, Stamina, Strength and Work Rate. In FM2011 it only affected 4 attributes – Jumping was previously in the Aerobic category. This category is used for boosting overall fitness (players losing condition quickly in matches) and physical impact (will keep your players tenacious and able to win more take-ons through strength). It’s also an essential category for pre-season training (see the Pre-Season section for more info). Goalkeepers training in this category will not see an increase in Work Rate.

Aerobic (physical training)

This category controls 4 attributes: Acceleration, Agility, Balance and Pace. This category is mainly for improving the athleticism of your player. It will make him faster, more agile and steadier on his feet. Often used in conjunction with the Strength category to increase a players overall physical presence, and is also used for Pre-Season purposes.

GK – Shot Stopping (goalkeeper training)

This category controls 4 attributes, 2 of them goalkeeper specific: Reflexes (GK), One On Ones (GK), Composure and Concentration. This category trains the goalkeepers mental abilities, and only includes background or prime attributes.

GK – Handling (goalkeeper training)

This category controls 4 attributes, all of them goalkeeper specific; Aerial Ability (GK), Kicking (GK), Handling (GK) and Throwing (GK). This category trains the goalkeepers secondary (accuracy) attributes. Side note: Aerial Ability is the goalkeeper equivalent of Jumping.

Tactics (general and goalkeeper training)

This category controls the most amount of attributes (8), as it also trains goalkeeper attributes if applied to one: Anticipation, Composure (non-GK), Concentration (non-GK), Decisions, Teamwork (non-GK), Command of Area (GK), Communication (GK) and Rushing Out (GK). Being the category that affects the most amount of attributes, it’s the most important one, especially for younger players. It teaches them to read the game, how to move and how to make good decisions. If a goalkeeper is training this category, it’s an extension of his mental goalkeeping training, making him interact better with his team and make better goalkeeping decisions.

Ball Control (general training)

This category controls 5 attributes; Dribbling, First Touch, Technique, Flair and Heading. All are technical or accuracy attributes except for Flair, which is an attribute that controls the unpredictability of a player. This category is useful if you feel your players repertoire is limited, and/or if you feel the player needs to control the ball better, as indicated by the category name. Goalkeepers training in this category will only increase their First Touch.

Defending (general training)

This category controls 3 attributes; Tackling, Marking and Positioning. A fairly straightforward category – useful for all defensive minded players to increase their defensive precision. In FM2011, this category included the Concentration attribute, but it has now been swapped with the more suitable Positioning, which is the defensive equivalent of Off The Ball.

Attacking (general training)

This category controls 4 attributes; Crossing, Creativity, Off The Ball and Passing. Not as simple as the Defending category though, as this one contains the prime attribute Creativity, which essentially controls how many options a player has to choose between, together with Technique and Flair. It’s also the only category training the Passing attribute. Useful for all players on the pitch, but obviously most useful for attack-minded players.


Lastly, this category controls 2 attributes; Finishing and Long Shots. In FM2011, this category included the Composure attribute, but that has been properly removed from this category in FM2012. The Shooting category is self-explanatory – useful for all players expected to provide end product, and will increase a player’s accuracy in front of goal.

As mentioned at the start of this section, ALL attributes in a category have an equal chance of being increased, and this is true regardless of how many attributes are in a category. It gets complicated when you include attribute value into the equation, but more about that later.

Training Score (Advanced)

So now that we know what the different categories do and what attributes they affect, it’s time to understand how this is all calculated to result in an increase for one or more attributes. Simply explained; a training score is calculated in every training category, and then that score is used to decide whether or not attributes are increased or not, and if so; how much.

This training score is calculated from three different factors:
  • Category Workload – how high the slider for the category is set.
  • Coach Workload – light, average, heavy or none.
  • Coach Ratings – the amount of quality (stars) the coaches have for the category.
When this score has been calculated, it’s put up against several other factors, such as player happiness, hidden mental attributes and current attribute levels, and then decides if the training has been a success, and at what rate. Higher value attributes are harder (slower) to train, and player morale affects the training performance. The final result is simply that one or more attributes are increased – or not.

The higher the training score is, the bigger the chance that one or more attributes will be increased. In order to achieve the highest training score (and therefore highest chance of increasing attributes), make sure your coaches have as many stars as possible, are on a light workload, sliders are set to maximum in the category you want to train, and that your player is professional and is on a superb morale.

Category Workload Sliders

There’s been much speculation about the mystery of the sliders since they were introduced in Football Manager. Several theories exist (e.g X amount of notches will give you X result), but there really is no mystery to them: there aren’t any trigger limits, the increase is purely linear, forcing you to find the sweet spot on your own for every individual player. The labelling (medium, high, intensive, etc) is only there for visual feedback.
Every notch increases the final training score (the chance of a player improving an attribute). In order to have a realistic chance of one or more attributes to increase, a minimum level of medium is recommended for the slider connected to the category in which the attributes are tied to.
Even though a player could still increase an attribute at the lowest possible slider setting (notch 1), the training score at that setting is so low that the chance of an attribute increase is almost non-existant.

Even though the sliders are only one part of the equation that forms the training score (coach workload and quality/stars are almost as important), the final training score is drastically reduced when the category workload sliders are below ‘light’.

Also worth keeping in mind is that the higher the overall workload, the bigger risk of injury and player unhappiness. This doesn’t mean you can’t push up the individual sliders to max setting (in fact, I recommend you do, to increase the training score) – it just means that you have to keep an eye on the bottom slider, the overall workload. Try to keep the overall workload one notch below heavy and you minimise the chance of injuries/unhappiness.

Coaches & Workload

When it comes to coaches, it’s simple really: the more stars, the better. The stars take everything into account, and are to be 100% trusted. If two coaches both have 4-star rating in Tactics, you will achieve the exact same training score regardless of which one you use.
The coach workload decides the speed of the attribute increases. ‘Light’ will get you results faster, ‘medium’ slower, ‘heavy’ slowest and ‘-’ none at all. The coach workload doesn’t affect the level of attribute increase (how much), just the rate (speed) of the increase.
If you have a 5-star coach and a 1-star coach training the same category, the training won’t be affected by the low level coach. The rating is all that matters, it’s the overall indicator of how well the category is being trained. Therefor, it’s safe to sign high level coaches for all 9 categories, and then use low level (cheap) coaches to fill out the category workloads to ‘light’. It also doesn’t matter how many categories a coach is training in.

So with all that in mind, the best long term plan is to prioritise star rating over workload.

Coach Attributes

Similar to player attributes, coach attributes consists of background, prime and secondary attributes, but they have a different meaning when dealing with coaches specifically:

Background Attributes

There are two types of background attributes. The first type (coaching) influences the training score for individual players. They are Man Management and Working With Youngsters. They are the equivalent of each other, so the former is preferred for first team or regular coaches, while the latter is preferred for youth coaches.

The second type of background attribute (mental) controls things like how well the coach settles at the club and his tactical knowledge. This also includes his judging abilities, so mental background attributes are most important when choosing an assistant manager.

None of the background attributes have an influence on the star rating of the coach.

Prime Attributes

Prime attributes are used for every training category when calculating quality rating (stars). They are Determination, Level of Discipline and Motivating. If these three attributes are high enough, the coach is generally good at most of the training categories, regardless of his secondary attributes. Prime attributes can make up at least 50% of the maximum star rating for all categories.

Secondary Attributes

Secondary attributes only affects specific training categories. Here’s how they affect specific training categories, and how much:
  • Attacking – 43% attacking and 24% shooting
  • Defending – 43% defending
  • Fitness – 62% strength and 62% aerobic
  • Goalkeepers – 43% GK (shot stopping) and 43% GK (handling)
  • Mental – 24% ball control
  • Tactical – 43% tactics, 19% defending and 24% attacking
  • Technical – 43% ball control and 43% shooting
With all this information we can now make some pretty good assumptions on how to select and appoint coaches. High background (coaching) attributes will increase the training score, and high background (mental) attributes are best for assistant managers. High prime attributes are preferred in all cases, and then the secondary attributes are used for specific categories.

Custom Schedules

Compared to FM2011, there’s a new default schedule called ‘Conditioning’ from the start of your save. This training schedule can be used for any fitness-related training, and works pretty well for Pre-Season purposes. These default schedules are only there to make training easier for those who don’t wish to travel deeper into the training module, but in order to maximise your players potential you should create custom schedules.
There are different approaches here. Some create general schedules (similar to the default ones), but with altered category sliders. Some make schedules for every position, and some even make schedules for every individual player.
Making schedules for every single player isn’t necessary in FM2012, as we have individual focus on top of the general training. More about that in the next section.

In my own opinion, the best approach is to make custom schedules for: every base position + team specific + pre-season. So in my case, first I make schedules for goalkeepers, central defenders, full/wing backs, defensive midfielders, attacking midfielders, wingers/wide forwards and strikers. I then create a ‘prime’ schedule (a team-specific schedule in which the main focus of my team is trained – maybe my team has an attacking personality, so the focus would be on that). Lastly I have a pre-season schedule for increasing player fitness levels when they come back from their season break.

Individual Focus And Set Piece Training

Just like in FM2011, you can set individual training focus for all players. This is helpful if you want to be more specific than the training categories allow you to be, targeting single attribute boosts.

Individual Focus allows you to focus and spot train one of 7 physical (all except Natural Fitness), 3 mental or all 14 technical attributes – the most powerful being the prime attribute Technique, and also the important Composure attribute – controlling how well a player performs under pressure. In FM2011, Tackling wasn’t included as an option in Individual Focus, but it is available as an option in FM2012.

The other important aspect here is that in FM2010 and earlier, you had a specific Set Pieces training category. With that being replaced by the goalkeeping categories in FM2011, you have to use individual focus to train set piece attributes that aren’t affected by regular training categories: Free Kicks, Penalties, Long Throws and Corners.

Match Preparation

New for FM2012 is the updated match preparation panel, giving you a visual indicator as to how comfortable your team feels with your tactic. It also has a temporary effect on specific matches, depending on the special focus area you’ve chosen. It’s now located in the tactics module, as opposed to having its own module in FM2011, but the functionality is exactly the same as in FM2011.

First important thing to understand is that the workload level and the special focus areas do not impact one another directly, other than special focus areas taking time from all other training activities (including familiarity rate). A higher workload will NOT increase the effects of the special focus areas, and none of the special focus areas will have an effect on the tactic familiarity levels.

Workload Setting

Having this at the highest setting (Very High) will not make your players unhappy with the level of training. It will just take away more time from normal training schedules (lowering the training score). It’s safe to push this up all the way when learning new tactics, as a short-term solution.

As soon as the familiarity levels reach fluid for all tactics trained, lower the workload slider to Low to maintain the levels, shifting more power to your regular training schedules in the process. The match preparation workload setting cuts into regular training time, so if you leave the slider on Average/High/Very High, training scores will be affected.

Familiarity Levels

As these increase, your players will perform the tactical instructions better. Always aim to have all bars on fluid. Whenever you alter your tactics, even the smallest of changes will make the game re-calculate the familiarity levels of your team. This is also true in a match – using touchline shouts or altering tactics mid-game could have a negative effect on the team, as they’re not as familiar with the “new” tactic.

Special Focus Areas

These selections are made to gain temporary benefits on a match-to-match basis. They will not stack up (except Team Blend), and should be viewed as a boost for the next match only. If you have a tough game coming up you might want to focus on Defensive Positioning, if you have an easy game coming up you might focus on Attacking Movement, and so on.

Worth noting is that if you have any of the special focuses selected the familiarity levels of the tactic(s) won’t increase as quickly. So if you want your team to learn the tactic(s) as fast as possible, don’t have a special focus selected.

The way these focus areas translate into the match engine is to give temporary boosts to related attributes. The boost is only given if the player is familiar enough with the tactic used, so that’s how familiarity levels and special focus areas tie in together.

Teamwork (previously Team Blend in FM2011)

This is the only focus that stacks up over time, and the only focus that is not active during a match. Instead, it’s active in between matches. Having Teamwork set as the default special focus, and then focusing on a specific area one day before a match will give you double the benefits. What Teamwork does is to increase player relationships, gelling them together, which ultimately increases morale and performances.

Tutoring And Player Preferred Moves (PPM’s)

When you go to a Player Profile – Positions, you’ll see a list called ‘Preferred Moves’ (or ‘PPM’). There are two ways to have a player learn a PPM: First one is to have a private chat with him, telling him specifically what PPM you think he should learn. The second one is to have a senior player (that currently has the PPM you want your player to learn) tutor him, hoping that the player learns that specific PPM.

In order to tutor the player he needs to be young – age plays a big part in tutoring. The older the player is, the more reluctant he will be to learn new tricks.

Even though tutoring is mostly designed to give you an option how to have your players learn PPM’s, the other benefit is that you can build relationships within the squad. You always run the risk of creating enemies as well, but a positive outcome is likely if you take player personality into account when selecting tutoring pairs.

Player Workload And Training Levels

In the Player Profile – Training panel, you will see overall workload percentages in the bottom left corner. These will tell you how much the player is focusing on the different aspects of training. Every time you add purpose-built training like PPM’s, new position or Individual Training Focus, it takes a piece out of the main training schedule the player is currently in (causing the training score to take a hit).

The match preparation also cuts into this share. The ideal situation is to have at least 70% dedicated to ‘normal’ scheduled training, and the rest dedicated to individual focus and/or match preparation.

Training Levels (Advanced)

An often overlooked panel is Training Levels, located in Player Profile – Training Levels (the far right tab at the top). The reason this panel is useful is because it tells you how high your training score is in a specific training category – the bars indicate how well a category is trained, based on player happiness, fitness, hidden attributes, current attribute levels, training facilities, etc.
Contrary to popular belief, the bars do not tell you how hard the player is training – they aren’t telling you if the player is in the risk zone for injuries or unhappiness.
If a bar is low, it tells you that either a) the workload slider for that category isn’t high enough to make an impact, or b) the player already has very high attribute values in the category, making it less likely that his attributes will increase, or c) the player has ‘run out’ of current ability points, so there is nothing left to take from to increase attributes.

If a bar is high, it means this category has a high chance of improvement – calculated by current attribute values, category workload, and so on. You should aim to have as high bars as possible in the categories you want to train, but there is no penalty for low bars – that just means that the chance of improvement in the affected attributes is small.

This info means that we can customise training schedules solely based on this information. With access to a visual indication of our training score, we can control the height of the bars by increasing or decreasing the workload in the player’s current training schedule. For example, if you only need a player to increase his Tackling and Pace attributes and don’t care about the rest, you could use the Training Level bars as a guide to scale away all unnecessary training.

Training Tips And Tricks

Using all the information we’ve reviewed in this article, here are some suggestions on how to use training efficiently. Just to be clear, this entire section is speculative and just my personal opinion based on the facts presented earlier in the article.


Use a specific training schedule, focusing mostly on tactics, strength and aerobics to have players work up their fitness and key mental attributes after the summer break. Have your main tactic loaded as the only tactic in Match Preparation, and have the workload slider set to Very High. Have the Teamwork special focus selected all the way through pre-season.

As soon as the fitness information (Player Profile – Attributes) says a player is either match fit or in superb condition, he does not need pre-season training anymore, but I usually keep all players on pre-season training until 2 weeks before the season starts, just to get the benefit of the mental attribute increases from the high workload in the Tactics category.

Set Pieces

Assign individual training focus Free Kicks, Penalties, Long Throws and Corners for your corresponding set piece takers. There is no set piece training category in FM2012, so all set piece attributes has to be increased through Individual Focus.

Short-Term Training

If you want to quickly raise a specific player attribute, first find the training category in which the attribute is learned. Then check to see if the attribute can be learned through individual focus. Here is the list of what attributes are trained by what category/focus:
    Technical Attributes
  • Corners – individual focus Corners
  • Crossing – training category Attacking / individual focus Crossing
  • Dribbling – training category Ball Control / individual focus Dribbling
  • Finishing – training category Shooting / individual focus Finishing
  • First Touch – training category Ball Control / individual focus First Touch
  • Free Kick Taking – individual focus Free Kicks
  • Heading – training category Ball Control / individual focus Heading
  • Long Shots – training category Shooting / individual focus Long Shots
  • Long Throws – individual focus Long Throws
  • Marking – training category Defending / individual focus Marking
  • Passing – training category Attacking / individual focus Passing
  • Penalty Taking – individual focus Penalties
  • Tackling – training category Defending / individual focus Tackling
  • Technique – training category Ball Control / individual focus Technique
Mental Attributes
  • Anticipation – training category Tactics
  • Composure – training category Tactics / individual focus Composure
  • Concentration – training category Tactics
  • Decisions – training category Tactics
  • Flair – training category Ball Control
  • Off The Ball – training category Attacking / individual focus Off The Ball
  • Positioning – training category Defending / individual focus Positioning
  • Teamwork – training category Tactics
  • Work Rate – training category Strength
Physical Attributes
  • Acceleration – training category Aerobic / individual focus Quickness
  • Agility – training category Aerobic / individual focus Agility
  • Balance – training category Aerobic / individual focus Balance
  • Jumping – training category Strength / individual focus Jumping
  • Natural Fitness – training category Strength
  • Pace – training category Aerobic / individual focus Quickness
  • Stamina – training category Strength / individual focus Stamina
  • Strength – training category Strength / individual focus Strength

The attributes that has both a training category and an individual focus assigned to them will have a higher rate and chance of increasing if both are used. The attributes that you can’t increase through training are Aggression, Bravery, Creativity, Determination and Influence – all mental attributes that are increased through other means (first team action, player growth, etc).

In order to increase a specific attribute as quickly as possible, create a custom training schedule with the corresponding category on Intensive (all the way up), then have the player set on individual focus for the intended attribute. Remove all positional and preferred moves training, and keep the match preparation training as low as possible. Make sure your coach(es) have an ok star rating in the category you’re training, that the category workload is ‘light’ (workload is more important that star rating in short term training), and that the player is happy (high morale). These factors will give you the highest possible training score, and therefore the highest chance that an attribute will be raised.

Long-Term Training

The long-term training is used for creating a team personality and instill a recognisable character to your team. Do you want to be known as a possession-based team? Masters of the defence? With long-term training you will build a specific set of attributes to shape the behaviour of the team.

Using the above list for attribute/training category/individual focus, we can build a custom training schedule that I like to call a ‘prime’ schedule. It should be balanced enough that almost all outfield players should be able to take part in it, to be shaped into your team’s personality and philosophy. But also specifically focused on 1-3 training categories.

Here are some prime schedule examples;

Attacking/Possession (Arsenal, Barcelona, etc) – Tactics and Attacking
Defensive/Counter (Real Madrid, Inter, etc) – Tactics, Defending and Shooting
Muscle/Control (Chelsea, etc) – Strength, Ball Control and Tactics

The prime schedule should be used mainly for newcomers to the club, so that they blend in well with the rest of the squad, giving them similar attributes. Make sure that your main tactic(s) reflect the training focus as well, it’s pointless having an attacking prime schedule if your main tactic is a defensive one.

Final Words

Hopefully you’ll understand more about the training and match preparation functionality of Football Manager 2012 now, even though it is quite a lot to take in. If you have any questions, or maybe your own tips & tricks for training, let me know!

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Discussion: FM12 Guide - Training & Match Preparation

5 comments have been posted so far.

  • tungfm2012's avatar
    ok very good for guide
  • W4NKER's avatar
    Great guide. Used it for a while now. I'm also a member of FMBase. Do you mind if I publish this guide there too? I'll obviously provide a link and full credit to you.
  • Stam's avatar
    I agree :)

    Appears that way, yeah.
  • ALX's avatar
    Amazing article. IMO a must read.
  • Tante's avatar
    Does this mean you will have to a Goalkeeper on Defending training so that you can increase his positioning?
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