It is essential to try to develop your younger players so that their current ability fulfils as much of their potential ability as possible. Doing this will help you to secure the long term success of your club, both on the pitch and financially. Furthermore, since players only have limited potential ability it is important that each individual player's improvement is focused as much as possible on improving the key attributes for that player's role, particularly those with lower ratings relative to other important attributes.
In order to improve your chances of developing young players into future first team stars, you will firstly need to ensure that you bring youngsters in to the club that have high levels of potential ability. The scope of your youth recruitment network is therefore important as this determines the size of the player pool from which your head of youth development or under 18s manager will select the new youth intake at the end of each season. A larger pool of players increases the chance of players with high potential ability becoming eligble for youth contracts on youth intake day.
Another important factor in determining the quality of your youth intake is your club's junior coaching. The better this is, the higher the current ability will be of the new youth players. Players who join the club with higher current ability will require less development in order to reach their potential.
Both youth recruitment and junior coaching can be improved by requesting this from the Board Meeting tab on the Boardroom screen.
The other way of bringing good quality youth players to your club is by scouting and signing young players that are currently at other clubs or available as free agents. This method of recruitment is highly advisable as it gives you far more say in the ability, attributes, preferred moves and personalities of the youth players that you select. If your club has poor youth recruitment and junior coaching then this is the only way that you will be able to consistently attain decent youth players.
Players should be developed through a combination of training, tutoring and first team experience. The standard of your club's training facilities and the quality of your coaches, as well as each individual player's personality and morale (and therefore good man management) will also affect development, with more professional and ambitious players developing better than players with poorer personalities. In addition, low Injury Proneness will help a player's development by reducing the amount of time he spends out of action due to injury. This is a hidden attribute, but can be judged by viewing a player's injury history on the Injuries section of his History tab.
Once a player has reached his potential ability he will no longer improve. However, his current ability will still be redistributed according to his training schedules. Players will also reach a natural peak when they get to a certain age. When a player passes this peak his current ability will start to fall and so his attributes will decline as a result. In particular, physical attributes will decrease, although mental attributes may still increase and so help counter this decline, while current ability will continue to be redistributed according to training schedules. Therefore, it is possible to restrict physical deterioration slightly by giving a player individual training focus in physical attributes such as Quickness and Stamina. Typically goalkeepers will reach their peak between 31 and 35 years old, defenders and midfielders between 27 and 32 and strikers between 26 and 31.
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It is important that you review the team training not just for your first team, but for your under 18s team. Match preparation training is less important for the under 18s than it is for the first team, unless you want your under 18s players to gain familiarity with your first team's tactics, and so you may want to adjust the scheduling slider all the way to the right so that no match preparation training takes place. It is advisable however, to still give your under 18s players rest days before and after matches. This will help them stay in good condition for matches and help avoid injury, which could otherwise affect their development. Rests are particularly important since they will still be developing physically. The default focus of general training can be changed for your under 18s squad if you want them to develop more in a particular area in order to get them ready for your first team. For example, if your first team tactics rely heavily on player fitness then you could change this to fitness, while if they rely on the skill of your players then you could change it to ball control. You can set the default intensity of general training to as high as you can before adversely affecting player happiness. If your under 18s squad's players are not generally happy with training then you will need to reduce the default intensity, while you should also reduce it if you appear to be getting a large amount of injuries in your under 18s squad. It is advisable to make sure that the overall workload (shown in the bottom right-hand corner) displays as medium rather than heavy. Having little or no match training will increase the overall workload, but it is still possible to set a high default intensity for general training and keep the overall workload at medium if you allow rests before and after matches.
In addition, you should review each young player’s individual training. Individual training focus can be used to improve key attributes that are needed for a player's expected future role before his development naturally slows down as he matures, while you can also request a player to focus on one particular key attribute that is relatively weak. New position training can be used to train a young player to become familiar with a position used in your formation if he is not already, for example, a wing back could be trained as a full back if you do not intend to use wing backs. Alternatively, you may sign a young player whose attributes you think are more suited to a different position in your tactical system. Such position training will be more effective the younger a player is, however, you should try to ensure that he is playing in the new position as much as possible whilst undertaking the training. Another individual training option is preferred move training. However, for young players it would be more appropriate to have them tutored to learn preferred moves so as not to add too much to their training workloads and to provide the additional benefits of personality improvements and improved player relationships.
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