Player Ability & Performance

Every player in the game is assigned a current ability and a potential ability. A player’s current ability dictates to a large extent how well he will perform. It will generally increase for a player as he develops before falling after the player passes the peak of his career. Potential ability, on the other hand, is static and determines the maximum that the player’s current ability can theoretically reach, although the level it actually reaches will depend on the player's personal development.

The true values of current ability and potential ability are hidden in the game, but your coaches and scouts will provide you with ability star ratings for each player that reflect their own opinions of what the player's ability and potential may be. However, your staff will not consider everything when forming these ratings and you should therefore use your own judgement of a player, combined with these reports, to properly assess ability.

In order to help you with this we will detail below how a player’s current ability, and hence the basis of your staffs' player ability star ratings, is determined. In addition, we will briefly list the factors that influence how much of his potential ability a player will reach, and introduce the basics of player development which are discussed elsewhere in the guide. We will then look in detail at exactly how your staff decide a player's current and potential ability star ratings so that you can assess their accuracy.

Finally, it is also important to be aware of the additional factors that contribute to a player's actual performances, as well as those that affect the overall performances of your team. Knowing the determinants of current ability will enable you to prioritise particular factors in a player’s development, so as not to waste his remaining potential ability. Knowing the many different influences on match performance will enable you to more efficiently assess the suitability of a player for your squad and tactics, and understand how to get the best out of your individual players and your team as a whole in every match.

Current Ability

A player’s current ability is determined by the following factors:

  • Visible player attribute ratings – these are the most important factor. They are weighted in favour of those attributes considered most important for his position. Therefore, a player will use up more of his remaining potential ability by improving in more important attributes than in those considered less important. Note that Acceleration and Pace are given a high weight for all outfield positions. So a very quick player with poorer ratings in other attributes may have a similar current ability to a slow player who has higher ratings in other attributes. Also, Aggression, Determination, Flair, and Natural Fitness, along with Eccentricity, Rushing Out and Tendency to Punch for goalkeepers, do not affect a player’s current ability.
  • How strong the player is on his weaker foot – this can also be viewed on the player's Information screen.

Potential Ability

It is important not to assume that a player will definitely reach the potential ability star rating given by your staff. How much of his potential ability a player actually fulfils depends on factors such as his personality, his morale, his training workload, the amount of time scheduled for general training, the standard of his club’s training facilities, the star rating and workload of the coaches training him, the quality of any tutoring he receives, the amount of first team football that he plays and the level of the league in which he plays.

Ability Star Ratings

Current and potential ability are represented in the game by star ratings given by your staff. Your assistant manager and coaches give ability star ratings for players in your own squad in their coach reports, while you can obtain star ratings for other players from your scouts as part of their scout reports. Both types of report can be viewed from a player's Reports tab.

For most players, ratings are given in multiples of half a gold star, ranging from a single half gold star to five full gold stars. Those youth players who would otherwise be given a single half gold star rating are instead assessed by silver stars to enable you to judge and compare their abilities more easily.

The ability star ratings given by your staff, both for your own players and for scouted players, are relative to the ratings given for other players in your squad. This means that whatever the overall ability level of your team is, you can easily assess a player's suitability for a particular squad status, such as youngster, backup, rotation, first team or key player. Typically, a player with a current ability rating of three or more gold stars is suitable for a place the first-team, while a player with two to two-and-a-half gold stars is suitable as a backup player. However, as you will soon see, it is important to assess players by more than their current and potential ability alone.

Because ability star ratings are relative, the star rating of a particular player in your squad may change over time as the overall ability of your squad changes. For example, if you squad improves, then players who were at the club when you first joined may be given lower star ratings than they were originally. Therefore, a falling current ability star rating does not necessarily mean that a player is actually declining or underperforming in training. The Individual Training guide will discuss how to assess a player's training performances properly. Ratings given in historic scout reports will not change over time and so will need to be updated with a new report if the last report's date is not recent.

In addition to being relative, ability star ratings are also merely the opinion of the staff member providing them. This is normally your assistant manager if you are viewing ratings on the Squad Depth section of your Team Report or on the Assistant Reports view on the Squad screen. You can view ratings from a different coach using the drop-down list on the top-right of the Squad Depth screen and the top-left of the Coach Report screen, while similarly you can select a different scout's report on the Scout Report screen.

Since ability star ratings are only opinions, their accuracy is determined by the rating of the Judging Player Ability and Judging Player Potential attributes of the staff member giving the star ratings, as well as the staff member's Club Players Knowledge bar shown on his Information screen. This knowledge will be low for a newly signed staff member, but will increase over time resulting in more accurate ratings. The ratings may also change according to a player's performances, which can cause a staff member to adjust his opinion.

Furthermore, the potential ability star rating (or more accurately the difference between the potential ability and current ability star ratings) is affected by a player's age and so the time he supposedly has left to reach his peak. Therefore, this may fall if the player does not develop enough to stay on course to reach the potential ability rating he was previously given, or rise if the player progresses better than expected. In particular, the potential ability star rating of a player may fall slightly on his birthday, but this fall may be reversed if the player continues to develop at a similar rate during the next year.

At smaller clubs playing in a lower level of league and with poorer coaches and training facilities, a player's potential ability star rating is less likely to be reached and so is more likely to fall over time.

To summarise, the current ability and potential ability star ratings for players are affected by:

  • The actual current/potential ability of the player as explained above.
  • The ability of the player compared to the ability of other player's in your squad.
  • The staff member's Judging Player Ability and Judging Player Potential attribute ratings.
  • The staff member's Club Players Knowledge bar, shown on his Information screen.
  • The player's form.
  • The success of the player's development. (This affects the incremental potential ability star rating - the player's supposed additional ability that he can reach).
  • The player's age and therefore the time he has left to reach his peak. (This again affects the incremental potential ability star rating).


A player’s match performance levels are determined to a large extent by his current ability as set according to his visible player attributes, his preferred moves and the strength of his weaker foot. However, the effects of several other factors are also important in deciding how well a player will play in a particular match.

The influences on a player’s match performances are as follows:

  • Visible player attribute ratings – weighted in favour of those most important for his position and player instructions.
  • Hidden player attribute ratings – the hidden attributes are Consistency, Dirtiness, Important Matches, Injury Proneness and Versatility.
  • Preferred moves possessed by the player – these should be appropriate for his attributes, and also his position and player instructions. They can be viewed on the Information section of his Overview tab.
  • How strong the player is on each foot – this can be viewed on the player's Information screen.
  • How familiar the player is with the position he has been given – this can be viewed on his Information screen.
  • The personality attributes Adaptability, Pressure, Professionalism, Sportsmanship and Temperament – these are hidden but influence the player’s personality description shown on his Information screen.
  • How motivated, complacent or nervous the player is – determined initially by his age, experience and personality, the team’s form, the importance of the game, and strength of the opposition, and then influenced by your chosen team talk.
  • Any communication problems the player has – these are detailed in the Pre-Match section of your assistant's feedback, accessed from the Analysis tab during a match.
  • The player's fitness this includes his condition, match fitness, level of jadedness, and any injuries he is carrying.

Team Performance

In addition to the factors affecting individual players, the overall performances of your team will be affected by your tactics, your team's tactic familiarity, how you plan to combat the opposition's tactics, how you adapt your tactics during the match, and your players' level of understanding on the pitch. Your players' understanding on the pitch can be improved using the teamwork focus in match training and by maintaining a stable squad of players.

Further Reading

The Secret Player - learn about the hidden world of the professional footballer.

The Manager: Inside the Minds of Football's Leaders - learn how to think like a football manager.

Will You Manage? - tells you the skills needed to be a great manager and gives essential tips for fantasy football success.

FM 2015

This guide has not yet been updated to reflect new features and changes in FM 2015.

Is your team suffering from an injury crisis? The Player Fitness guide has now been updated to help you improve your fitness management.

Tactics Resources

Inverting the Pyramid - guaranteed to give you a greater overall tactical knowledge and understanding.

Soccer Strategies - learn the advantages and disadvantages of using different formations in defence and attack.

Soccer Systems and Strategies - teaches you about different tactical strategies.

Coaching the Tiki Taka - learn about the tiki taka style in detail.

Transition and Counter Attacking - find out how to play against different opposition systems.

Match Strategy and Tactics - learn how to adapt your tactics to the opposition and different match scenarios.

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FM 2015

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