The components that make up a player's fitness are his condition, match fitness, jadedness and any injury he may have. These will vary over the course of a season as a player spends time training, resting and playing matches. Each component needs to be managed carefully in order to keep a player happy and performing well, as well as to reduce the likelihood of injuries occuring.
The fitness related attributes Natural Fitness, Stamina and Injury Proneness all have different effects on fitness and therefore influence how you should manage the fitness of each individual player.
1. Viewing Fitness
A player's fitness status can be viewed on the Fitness panel of his training report. This panel shows his condition level as a percentage, a match fitness description, and a comment from your head physio. For an injured player this comment will provide details of the injury and how long he estimates the player will be out for. Otherwise, it may provide information on one of the player's fitness related attributes or inform you that he is jaded and needs a rest.
You can also view a player's match fitness level as a percentage on the Physical panel on his Profile screen. In addition, this panel shows the player's condition percentage and informs you if he is jaded.
You can view the fitness status for every player in your squad together by using the Fitness view on the Players tab of the Squad screen.
1.1. Status Icons
The following fitness related status icons will be displayed for a player when relevant:
Rst - The player is jaded and would benefit from a rest.
Inj (red) - The player is injured and is not able to train or play in matches. (Hovering over the icon will show the estimated time until he is fully healed).
Inj (orange) - The player is injured but his injury has healed enough for him to take part in light training. He can also be selected for matches. (Hovering over the icon will show the estimated time until he is fully healed).
1.2. During a Match
During a match the condition of all your players can be viewed on the Overview sceen, the Player Ratings section of the Stats tab or your side's Team Ratings widget. Any injury picked up by a player will be identified by an injury indicator.
2. Components of Fitness
A player's condition represents how much energy and freshness he has. The higher this is the better he will perform and the less likely he will be to get injured, either during matches or in training.
During a match condition will gradually fall as the player spends time on the pitch. The rate of this fall will depend partly on how hard he works, which in turn is affected by his endeavour (particularly Aggression and Work Rate) and his tactical instructions (such as those related to tempo, forward runs, dribbling and closing down). Match fitness, jadedness, injuries and the Stamina attribute also affect how quickly condition falls as will be explained below.
Between matches condition will recover. It will recover more quickly if the player is given a lighter training workload or a short rest from training, but will recover more slowly if he is given a heavier workload. Jadedness and the Natural Fitness attribute also affect the rate at which condition recovers.
However, regular training is necessary to keep a player's condition high. An extended period without training, such as when a player is on holiday, on extended leave or injured, will see his condition fall. Natural Fitness also affects the rate at which condition falls.
2.2. Match Fitness
A player's match fitness represents his general sharpness when on the pitch. The higher this is the better he will perform and the less likely he will be to get injured during matches. Furthermore, the higher a player's match fitness is the slower his condition will fall when he is on the pitch.
A player will gain match fitness as he spends time playing matches and will lose match fitness when he is not playing.
Natural Fitness affects the rate at which match fitness is gained.
Jadedness represents how "burnt-out" a player is. A jaded player will not necessarily have low condition or low match fitness, but his performances will suffer and his condition will drop more quickly during matches. In addition, his condition will recover more slowly after matches.
A player's level of jadedness will increase as he spends time playing matches and training, while it will increase more the heavier his training workload is. His jadedness will fall when he is not playing in matches, when he is resting from training and when he is on extended leave. Natural Fitness also affects jadedness.
Young, developing players and older players who have passed their physical peak tend to become jaded more easily.
Unlike condition and match fitness the full details of a player's jadedness are hidden. You will only be informed that a player is jaded when his jadedness reaches a certain level.
A player can suffer an injury at any time either during matches or in training. An injured player will be treated by your physios and will be unable to take part in matches or training for a period of time to enable the injury to heal. When a player's injury has healed sufficiently he will be able to take part in light training, while he will also be available for selection for matches.
A player will be more likely to suffer match injuries if he has lower condition or lower match fitness, while he will be more likely to suffer training injuries if he is given a heavier training workload or if he has lower condition. Injury Proneness also affects how likely a player is to suffer both match and training injuries as will be explained below.
During a match, if a player suffers a sufficiently serious injury then he will have to come off. However, a player may simply pick up a knock that affects his performance but does not require him to be brought off. For more significant knocks an injury indicator will be shown and you will be given the option to quickly substitute the player. Such a knock can develop into a more serious injury if the player is kept on the pitch, while it may still result in a post-match injury even if he is substituted. For less significant knocks no indicator will be shown and the knock itself will not develop into a serious injury or lead to a post-match injury, but his condition percentage will fall noticeably which will slightly increase the likelihood of injury. However, his condition will generally recover as he runs off the knock.
The main fitness related attributes are the physical attributes Natural Fitness and Stamina, and the hidden attribute Injury Proneness. The affects of these on player fitness are as follows:
Natural Fitness - This plays a particularly important part in determining a player's fitness levels. A player with higher Natural Fitness will retain condition more easily when injured or not training, while he will also recover condition more quickly between matches and gain match fitness more quickly when playing matches. In addition, he will be less likely to become jaded. It therefore has an indirect effect on injuries since players with higher condition and match fitness will be less likely to suffer injuries.
Stamina - A player with higher Stamina will experience a slower fall in condition during a match. Again, it has an indirect effect on injuries since players with higher condition will be less likely to suffer injuries.
Injury Proneness - A less injury prone player will be less likely to suffer match and training injuries.
Another attribute that should be considered when managing player fitness is the personality attribute Professionalism, which affects a player's approach to training. More professional players are less likely to become unhappy with heavier training workloads.
A player's Natural Fitness and Stamina can be viewed on his Profile and Attributes screens, but his Injury Proneness and Professionalism are both hidden.
However, the Coach Reports section of a player's Reports tab may mention Injury Proneness among the player's pros and cons if a coach believes the player has a particularly high or low rating in the attribute. Different coaches have different opinions, and so you may want to check the reports of all your coaches using the Coach Report by drop-down. You should bear in mind though that a coach's Club Players Knowledge will affect the accuracy of his report. This can be checked on the Information section of his Overview tab.
A player's personality description and coach report (especially if your club has a professional squad personality) may also provide information about his Professionalism, as detailed in the Player Personalities guide.
If your head physio believes a player has a high or low rating in one of the Natural Fitness, Injury Proneness or Professionalism attributes then he will comment on this in the Fitness panel of the player's training report, as long as the player is not injured.
For example, he may tell you that a player:
"takes a very professional approach to ensuring he is in the best condition possible", meaning he has high Professionalism;
"will rarely succumb to injury", meaning he has low Injury Proneness;
"is somewhat prone to injury", meaning he has high Injury Proneness; or
is "a fine athlete", meaning he has high Natural Fitness.
4. Managing Fitness
4.1. Squad Rotation
It is highly important to employ an effective squad rotation policy in order to manage the fitness of your squad.
Squad rotation is discussed in more detail in the Preparing for the Match guide.
Generally, it is advisable to only select a player in your starting line-up if his condition is approximately 92% or higher, if possible.
If a player's condition has fallen to a low level, either following a match, an injury or a period without training, then it will need to be built back up by bringing the player back into training, and preferably by leaving him out of matches or by only giving him brief playing time during matches.
Following a match you may want to give a player with particularly low condition a brief rest to increase his condition more quickly, although he will rest for one day anyway if you give your squad a rest day after each match. You can give an individual player a rest from training from his Development drop-down menu or by right-clicking his name and selecting the Training sub-menu.
After an extended period without training, giving extra training to physical attributes can be beneficial to reduce the lieklihood of injuries or jadedness occuring later on. This can be achieved using the fitness focus in general training for your whole squad, for example during pre-season after your players have returned from holiday, or through individual training of attributes such as Stamina and Strength for a single player, for example after he has returned from a long injury.
If a player's condition falls to a particularly low level during a match then he should ideally be substituted for a fresher player, not only to aid the performance of your team but to help avoid a possible injury for the player and to keep him fresh for future matches. A condition percentage in the low 70s would generally warrant you giving consideration to substituting the player, and your assistant manager will be likely to mention this in his in-match feedback. However, you may want to substitute a tiring player earlier to preserve a higher level of condition, perhaps if you wish to use him in another match in a few days time or if you believe the match has already been won.
You can reduce the rate at which a player's condition falls during a match by instructing him to use less effort. For example, you can instruct him to close down less, dribble less, hold his position or play with a more defensive duty, or you can instruct your team to play at a lower tempo. This can be especially useful if he has low condition and you cannot substitute him, or if you need his condition to stay high for your next match. However, unless perhaps your team has a comfortable lead, you should be careful not to make tactical changes that adversely affect your team's performance. If your team does have a comfortable lead late in a match then the keeping possession and time wasting defending styles can be useful for preserving the condition of your players.
If a player picks up a knock during a match then you will need to decide whether to substitute him. For a more significant knock that gives the player an injury indicator it is advisable to substitute him as soon as possible to help prevent the knock from developing into a worse injury. For a less significant knock that has simply caused condition to fall it is usually ok to leave the player on to run off the knock, unless you have a particular reason to want to protect him.
4.3. Match Fitness
A player should ideally be at least 81% match fit before starting a competitive match for your senior squad. This is the percentage range for which the match fitness description states a player is match fit.
However, the only way for a player to gain match fitness is by spending playing time on the pitch, and the longer he goes without playing the more his match fitness will fall.
Therefore, if a player needs to gain match fitness then it is advisable to play him in your reserve squad, while you can also include him as a substitute for your senior squad and bring him on late in the match if your team has a comfortable lead. A player can be made available for your reserves from his Development drop-down menu or by right-clicking his name and selecting the Squad sub-menu. Your assistant manager will ask you to confirm which senior squad players are available for the next reserves match shortly before the match. Any players needing match fitness will be listed as suggestions and you will be able to make them available directly from your inbox.
The likelihood of jadedness occuring can be reduced by giving your players occasional rests from matches using squad rotation and by giving them rests from training, either by setting rest days for your whole squad or by resting individual players briefly when they have low condition. Despite this, intensive fitness training used to build up players' fitness can help to prevent jadedness occuring later on, as detailed above.
If a player is described as "tired" (but not simply "tired after his last match" which will be the case for most players immediately after playing a match) then it would be beneficial to not play him in your next match if possible, and you should also consider giving him a rest from training. This will help to prevent him becoming jaded.
Generally, your young, developing players and older players who have passed their peak would benefit from having their playing time and training managed more carefully due to their higher tendency to become jaded.
You may want to avoid giving your players heavier training workloads to help prevent jadedness, but instead it is advisable to just use squad rotation and rest days, in addition to adapting training workloads to suit individual players as will be discussed below. This will ensure that your squad gets the most possible benefit from training.
Managing Jaded Players
If a player is jaded and needs a rest then it is best to give him extended leave to help him recuperate. This can be given from the Extended Leaves tab on the Squad screen.
Alternatively, you can simply leave him out of matches for a short period and give him a brief rest from training. However, this will be less effective. Even if your physio no longer says the player is jaded after such a rest his level of jadedness is still likely to be poorer than if he had been given extended leave. Therefore, his performances and condition could still be adversely affected and you may soon be told that he is jaded again.
As well as managing the general fitness of your players to help prevent injuries, you should ideally employ as many high quality physios as possible in order to reduce the likelihood of injuries occuring, reduce injury times and reduce rehabilitation times.
If your squad is suffering from a large number of training injuries then you may need to reduce training workloads as discussed in the Training Reports guide.
If at all possible you should avoid selecting a player for any match until he has returned to full training and so no longer has an injury status icon. This will help to help prevent him from exacerbating the injury and being kept out of action for even longer. You can then increase his condition and match fitness as detailed above.
By using the information available to you on each player's fitness related attributes you can adapt the general approach to managing fitness, discussed above, for individual players.
If a player has high Natural Fitness then:
You will also be able to select him more regularly and with lower levels of condition if needed, and play him for longer, since he will be less likely to become jaded and will be able to recover condition more quickly between matches.
You will be able to bring him back into action after injury sooner.
You will be able to give him a heavier training workload since he will be less affected by the resultant slower rate of condition recovery, less likely to suffer injuries caused by lower condition and less likely to become jaded.
However, he will still be just as likely to suffer training injuries as a direct result of training with a heavier workload. You may also need to carefully manage his training happiness if you give him a heavier workload.
Managing training happiness is discussed in the Training Reports guide.
If a player has high Stamina then:
You will be able to play him for longer during matches and start him in matches with slightly lower levels of condition if needed.
You will be able to give him a heavier training workload since the resultant slower rate of condition recovery will be slightly less significant and he will be less likely to suffer training injuries caused by lower condition.
However, again he will still be just as likely to suffer training injuries as a direct result of a heavier workload and you may need to carefully manage his training happiness. In addition, jadedness is just as likely to be caused by a heavier workload and more playing time. Therefore, some rest from training and matches is advisable.
If a player is less injury prone then:
You will be able to play him with lower levels of condition and match fitness since he will be less likely to suffer match injuries.
You will be able to give him a heavier workload since he will be less likely to suffer training injuries.
However, you may still need to carefully manage his training happiness if you give him a heavier workload. In addition, jadedness, as well as poorer performances as a result of lower condition, are just as likely to be caused by a heavier workload and more playing time. Therefore, again, some rest from training and matches is advisable.
If a player is more professional then:
You will be able to give him a heavier workload before adversely affecting his training happiness.
However, sufficient rest from training and matches will still be necessary to maintain the player's fitness.
In particular, if a player has high Natural Fitness and low Injury Proneness then he should be able to easily handle regular match action and a heavier training workload for the duration of a season, while if he also has good Professionalism then his training happiness will be easier to manage.
If, on the other hand, a player has low Natural Fitness or high Injury Proneness then it is advisable to give him a lighter training workload and more rests from training and matches.