February 24, 2010
Recent discussions on the forums about training have got me thinking. There seem to be, broadly speaking, two camps. One that likes to sort their training by position alone, creating schedules based on roles, duties and the types of players they want to mould. The other looks at a more fluid system, tailored to individual need at different stages of a player’s career. I see both points of view – one which keeps things simple and manageable – one that attempts to get maximum efficiency from the tools at their disposal. But where do I stand, and which approach did I take with Hinckley?
First up, this may be the last “Lessons from Hinckley” update. Following a PC crash, I lost my saved game and have had to start from scratch. Always back up your stuff, that’s the lesson to be learned from Hinckley…
The current position of the community
Back to the training. Hinckley United were a little different to most of the topics of discussion in that they are a part-time club. Semi-professional footballers spend far less time on the training pitch than their full-time counterparts. With that in mind, the amount they can train is limited. While it may be possible, according to Kittipol, to train an extra 3 attributes onto a player with the correct intensity and the best coaches, a semi-pro chump in the lower leagues is going to be lucky just to keep the red arrows to a minimum.
Given that the lack of available time in the schedule meant that I had very little chance to add variety to my schedules, I went with Fantastic’s idea of only using the 8, 14 and 20 points on the sliders to create my training schedules. For those unaware of this theory, I will loosely sketch out the details.
The theory goes that at point 8 on the slider (7 clicks from the lowest position), a player will train enough to “maintain” their current attributes. That is, at that level a player should get no worse other than through natural decline. At point 14, they will begin to increase their attributes. And point 20 is the highest you can train a player – he will get no better through more intensive training, but he will get up to that maximum point quicker.
Therefore, claims Fantastic (and, less emphatically, Kittipol), there should be no reason to use any other slider settings than 1 (the lowest), 8, 14 or 20. For attributes that are essential, use 20; ones that are useful, 14; ones that you would not like to see get any worse, 8; and ones that you don’t need, 1.
The problems with this view
The best critique of this received wisdom that I’ve seen anywhere comes from SFraser, who has really taken the discussion of training to the next level. Since training has remained unchanged for so many years, discussions have been pretty static for a long time. The system is outdated, without question, and I for one hope it gets a complete overhaul in Football Manager 2011. But while we wait, we should definitely take what SFraser has said on board.
As SFraser quite rightly points out, 20 is only the “best” level for improving players if your facilities and coaches are top-notch. With lower quality coaching, you won’t see the maximum improvement. Similarly, while 8 may be the “natural maintain” point, older players will naturally fall into physical decline. Therefore, 8 is not the “absolute maintain” point for every player at every club. Those that need physical strength to keep playing at your level will require extra training in these areas, and perhaps less intensive work on their fully developed attributes such as tactics (mental characteristics that, broadly, come with experience).
So, we cannot make these broad strokes of “1, 8, 14 and 20″ because:
- Every player is at a different development point in their career
- All training facilities are of different qualities
- All coaches are of different qualities
- All players require different skills to be emphasised or maintained depending on their “natural” strengths and weaknesses
In effect, then, should we just create schedules for every individual player, regardless of how time consuming this may be whenever we take over a club?
The truth, my friends, is often somewhere in between. While the Fantastic approach is less time consuming, easy to monitor and manage, and built mainly around positions and roles already outlined in the game, the SFraser approach will far more effectively mould a player’s attributes to the task at hand. Fantastic’s approach is vulnerable to the changes in a player’s life cycle, as well as that individual’s own natural strengths and weaknesses (i.e., their attributes before any training commences). SFraser’s, on the other hand, can be difficult and fiddly to create and will require a lot more micro management. Not that that should ever be a reason to dismiss anything.
For me, I found the solution was somewhere in between. I didn’t want to create loads of schedules for what I saw as little gain. Sure, at Premier League level with youth academies, top coaches and top players, I could see a great deal of benefit to tailoring my schedules to my squads. But in the Conference Regional and National?
That being said, I had players who were coming through in their early 20s and players who were getting close to drawing their pension. So, I liked the simplicity of the Fantastic solution, but realised the need to cater for certain individuals.
So, for a player like Legwinski, I would work him harder physically, while down-playing his mental attributes. Whereas for any other DMC, I would be working him harder on the attributes highlighted by the tactics creator for his position (similar to moj’s approach on the FM-B forums).
Being aware of such issues is vital to getting the best from your training. But in the end, it’s a time/reward equation. Is the amount of time spent tailoring such schedules “worth it” in the long run? For bigger clubs, I would whole-heartedly recommend you at least read SFraser’s discussions on training. But, for those who like a more simple approach, but one that can, for the majority of players, gain good results, then certainly it is worth reading up on Fantastic’s work at Los Wonderkids.
I’m not sure how much original insight I can provide on a subject on which I have spent little time in my Football Manager career. However, I would highly recommend the following.
SFraser’s approach to training (with downloads)
Fantastic’s approach to training
moj’s role-based approach to training
Tug’s Training – the classic download