Besides the odd foray into custom schedules, my approach to my team’s training regime was to let the assistant sort it out and hire the best coaching-staff money could buy to ensure my players developed as well as possible. I did set individual training regimes when I deemed them necessary, but that was pretty much my approach to training.

I think the current training system is, in no small extent, idiot-proof. When the assistant manager handles most tasks, it almost doesn’t matter what you do; your players will always develop and grow as footballers. The training module can help you to emphasise and somewhat sculpt that development, but it is an organic and natural process, for as far as that is possible in a computer game. 

With not much to lose, I decided I wanted to shape the development of my players a bit more. I tried to form the players coming through the ranks to better suit my brand of football, so my U18’s needed an overhauled training regime. That meant looking at their development and sculpting it more to my tastes and preferences. 

My brand of football

From a tactical point of view, this is what I want to see on the pitch.

  • We will play a brand of football which focuses on high energy execution of the three P’s, pressing, penetration and possession;
  • We will play as a cohesive unit, attacking and defending as a team;
  • When we have the ball, we will use technically proficient players to create varied attacks and mixed focal points. We value brains over brawn;
  • When we do not have the ball, we will use counter-pressing tactics to win back the ball;
  • We will impose ourselves on our opponents first and foremost and be reactive only when strictly necessary. Let our opponents be the ones to react to us.

A robust technical skill-set is almost mandatory to play in such a style. I want forwards and midfielders who are not hesitant to take on an opponent in a one-on-one, I want defenders who are comfortable on the ball and dare to play out from the back. What I wanted to try was to create a Coerver-inspired training regime for my U18 (and possible reserve) squad.

Coerver-inspired

Coerver-inspired means the ideas and workings of Dutch coach Wiel Coerver inspired these regimes. During the 1970’s he developed a detailed training and coaching program, focussing on individual skill progression and the development of tactical awareness through a series of drills, carried out in small groups. 

One of the critical features of this program is control over the ball. Coerver believed that incredible skill was not simply innate, but training could teach you these skills. Coerver thought that players who dominated in one-on-one situations could give their team a vital edge over their opponents. With the pace of the modern game increasing and space on the pitch becoming an ever-scarcer commodity, an improved technique on the ball could give players an extra edge.

The ideals, ideas and exercises of Coerver are too complex to be incorporated into FM as such, but they have given me food for thought on which areas to emphasise in the training regimen I use.

Applying the ideas

Development-wise and on average, a player’s physical attributes will develop first, followed by his technical skills and at a later age his mental attributes. I want my schedules to focus on the technical development of the players, letting the physical attributes develop naturally. A player’s mental attributes generally develop best from mid to later in the player’s career.

When I tie this knowledge in with what I had in mind, it does not mean I will just stick technical drills in my schedules. I’m not exclusively focussing on technique, but I’m emphasising it. So while we will not ignore mental and physical attributes during the exercises I had in mind, they will take somewhat of a backseat until a player is promoted to the first team, reserve squad or sent on loan. At that stage, their training regimen will become more varied. 

The objectives of this regime were simple:

  1. Raise my player’s technical skills in offensive one-on-one situations;
  2. Raise my player’s skills on the ball under pressure;
  3. Through their improved technical skills, help them find footballing solutions on the pitch.

For my training regime, I have set up four different categories of training to try and maximise the development of the attributes I find useful for these situations. 

Each category, except for transition, has its specific training regime, divided into schedules for no matches a week, one game a week and two games a week. 

The attacking schedule

The attacking schedule is set up to help the players improve the skills they would need when creating chances for themselves and others. 

The attacking training regime

The schedules for 1 and 2 matches a week are rather similar to that but have fewer training moments, as matches and subsequent Recovery training sessions replace these.

Most of the exercises are self-explanatory. It’s a regime geared for improving attacking skills, so it makes sense to see a lot of attacking sessions. I have included the physical exercises to ensure the youngsters’ physical development will not stagnate. The match practise exercises give the players a chance to hone their skills in a match, even if it is one during the training. The transition exercises are included because I want them to focus on what happens when they lose the ball as well.

The transition schedule

The transition schedule has been modelled to help the players improve the skills they would need when transitioning from offence to defence and vice versa. A lot of these skills are also prevalent during the attacking and defensive schedules, but I want to train them separately as well, in combination with a bit of tactical training for context.

The transition training regime

In this schedule, I have added some additional physical exercises. Counter-pressing demands a lot from players physically, so with the added physical training, I only use this schedule in weeks where the players have no matches at all, to prevent them from getting too tired or risking injuries. The match preparation schedules are intended to have them train in their next match, which isn’t this week, but it’s still a decent preparation for transitions.

The defensive schedule

The defensive schedule has been modelled to help the players improve the skills they would need when they are trying to hold off an opponent. The secondary focus during this week is also training the attacking skills. Players cannot train on defence without having at least some team-members perform attacking duties at the same time. 

The defensive training regime

The schedules for 1 and 2 matches a week are somewhat similar to that but have fewer training moments, as matches and subsequent Recovery training sessions replace these.

Like the attacking schedule, most of the exercises are self-explanatory. It’s a regime geared for improving defensive skills first and foremost, so it makes sense to see a lot of defensive sessions. I have included the physical exercises to ensure the youngsters’ physical development will not stagnate. The match practise exercises give the players a chance to hone their skills in a game, even if it is one during the training. The transition exercises are included because I want them to focus on what happens when they win the ball as well. I have also added a Play from the Back exercise because it suits the transition focus. When my defenders have the ball, I want them to be confident on the ball and not just hoof it forward.

The possession schedule

The possession schedule has been modelled to help the players improve the skills they would need when they want to dominate possession. The secondary focus during this week is also training the attacking skills. The objective is to keep hold of the ball, which means taking on opponents every now and then, especially when cornered, is essential.

The possession training regime

The schedules for 1 and 2 matches a week are somewhat similar to that but have fewer training moments, as matches and subsequent Recovery training sessions replace these.

In this regime aimed at improving the skills required to dominate possession, I have included a combination of exercises aimed at keeping and distributing the ball, either at the back, the middle half of the pitch or up top. The physical and transition exercises are thrown into the mix for good measure.

The tactical schedule

The tactical schedule has been modelled to help the players improve their tactical skills. It is not a schedule I often use, because I feel their physical and technical development are more critical. If I prioritise their technical development, I hope to prepare them better for the rigours of first-team football or a loan away. Their mental skills can develop after their move to another team, which will happen when the youth players turn 18.

The tactical training regime

The schedules for 1 and 2 matches a week are somewhat similar to that but have fewer training moments, as matches and subsequent Recovery training sessions replace these.

The exercises used are mostly aimed at getting players accustomed to the rigorous tactical demands that a strikerless style of play makes of them. A few match practice and physical exercises got chucked in to create a bit more balance.

The benefit of units

As you all know, during training sessions, the team is split up into training units. These are Goalkeeping, Defensive and Attacking. By default players are placed into the most suitable unit for them; strikers into Attacking, centre backs into Defensive, etc. The unit a player is in defines what part he takes in each training session.

What I like about these training units is that there are also secondary and even tertiary focusses during most exercises. For instance, during a primarily offensive training exercise, there is often a secondary focus on the defensive unit, who act as the opposition. At times, the goalkeepers get involved as a tertiary focus as well.

Shout-out

To finish this article, I want to thank Seb Wassell at SI for having a look at my work, to prevent me from talking complete and utter nonsense, well… even more than usual. You ought to follow Seb on Twitter to see daily threads he tweets on training and development in FM20.

Guido is the founding father of Strikerless and main nutjob running the show.

Categories: Training

Guido

Guido is the founding father of Strikerless and main nutjob running the show.

12 Comments

laurent letertre · May 29, 2020 at 8:57 am

bonjour, super travail, je voulais vous demander . est ce que mettre ces programmes pour l’entrainement senior egalement .
merci

hello, great job, I wanted to ask you. so do these programs for senior training as well. thank you

    Guido · May 29, 2020 at 9:36 am

    The problem with senior schedules is the amount of matches. If you play two games a week, there is not a lot of time left for training.

Mucahit Can · May 29, 2020 at 3:03 pm

Hi Guido, interesting read again. Will you be sharing these training regimes as i am having difficulty with the pictures you shared? Thanks.

    Guido · June 5, 2020 at 4:44 pm

    I’ll get a download link up soon 🙂

Joey Numbaz · June 1, 2020 at 8:45 pm

Awesome stuff! A couple of questions.

Have you run this long enough to see how it works? Is it doing what you hope it will? Or is that another future article?

I noticed no goalkeeper sessions. Has this negatively impacted your keeper development?

    Guido · June 5, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    Couple of seasons now. The development is shifting towards stronger technically gifted players at the (slight) expense of the mental development, which in turn picks up once they are promoted to first-team.

toolkitxx · June 13, 2020 at 7:18 pm

Hej Guido,

I really enjoyed your posting here as it was a great explanation to what i was doing already without actually knowing why 🙂
I have one question though: I notice that in your schedules there is a complete lack of goalkeeping units which has been a problem with my own schedules as well. How do you solve that or do you ignore your young keepers development?

    Guido · July 25, 2020 at 3:03 pm

    I haven’t noticed any issues there, as most regimes do have a secondary or tertiary focus on keeping. 🙂

Max Child · June 25, 2020 at 11:51 am

Hey Guido,

Fantastic article! Great to hear your thoughts on this – is there any chance you could include a download link to add to our own games? Thanks 🙂

    Guido · July 25, 2020 at 3:02 pm

    Sorry for the slow response, birth of my daughter and all 🙂 I generally don’t offer downloads to my saves, sorry.

Fraser FC · September 21, 2020 at 2:39 am

Revisiting older training articles to get a better understanding of how training works. How often do you set these schedules in the training calendar? Would a month be focused on a specific topic (July is just allocated to attacking, August is defending) or do you rotate through on a weekly basis? Just wondering if players only see attacking every month if this impacts their progress.

    Guido · September 24, 2020 at 1:57 pm

    Every two to three months, usually. You could set them per month if you want to emphasise certain aspects.

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