Practical Example of Creating Training Schedules for Set-Piece Vision Feat. A Training Matrix
Welcome to a guest post by from our Youtube partner Avoiding Relegation who have written this excellent piece about his FM20 training schedules which shows you a practical example of incorporating a certain training philosophy in Football Manager 2020. By continue reading you’ll get to understand how he employs a club vision of playing for set-pieces and how it’s transmitted into training and using training sessions to improve their skills at set-pieces.
This article hands you the ideas and visions used in his latest Journeyman save Playing for Set-Pieces, but features as well an excel sheet of his training matrix and the actual training schedules, for first team and pre-season, he has created. All of these things can be downloaded at the bottom of the article. Let’s give the word to Avoiding Relegation.
Developing a First Team Training Schedule
Initially this was going to be a presentation of the training schedules that I created within FM19 and the changes I was going to make to them for FM20. However; during my Beta with Everton, I decided to use them to see how they performed and the upshot was a ton of training injuries and fitness issues that have contributed to an overall poor performance, which of course has absolutely nothing to do with the Manager and his poor performance!
The schedules had worked well within FM19; the attributes I targeted saw improvement and with one or two minor adjustments to balance training within the units (Goalkeepers didn’t get enough attention) and also adjustments to the physical training as there were complaints regarding too much strength training made the complaints stop. There were some initial training injuries but it all seemed to settle down after a while and overall, despite everyone being knackered; it seemed to do the trick.
The story for FM20 was far more brutal; granted there were more initial injuries (more so than in FM19) and some of those were quite heavy, losing Digne for a couple of months, for example. But despite a slow down in injuries, it did not drop to the level I had experienced in FM19 and I decided that these schedules were not going to cut it. Ironically; one thing I should add is that the medical team would tell me that we were experiencing less injuries than the average expected!
Consequently, I decided my best course of action, especially given the primary focus of a ‘Set Pieces’ philosophy for the Journeyman, that I should actually build a fresh training regime from scratch.
In Game Training Schedules
There are a number of existing schedules that can be selected and there were two key points that sprang out at me:
• The first is that there are a number of open slots in all of these schedules that are left empty and if one were so inclined; I could choose the best schedule to suit my teams tactics and then just fill up the blank spaces.
• The second thing I noticed, which I did not pay attention to when creating the schedules in FM19 is the intensity. As you will see from the above example; the schedule intensity differs each day with a pattern of higher intensity followed by lower intensity, much lower intensity on the day before a match and absolutely nothing after a match.
Considering these points; in order to maximize the effectiveness of the training, I decided to attempt a similar approach; not just from the point of view of improving the players overall match fitness (ie not constantly being too tired from too much training) but also to reduce the number of training injuries. That being said, I also wanted to use of the free training slots whilst maintaining this balance. The training structure can be broken down; at top level between pre-season and main season; then all of the sub categories below that. For example light training at the start of pre-season, less physical training with a busier game schedule and in order to maintain a healthy and match fit squad (as much as possible), I decided that I would need to consider these points too.
Takers and Targets
The first stage was to split the team into two categories and identify the key attributes for both roles (outside of their positional / team role) which led me to Takers; those who will be delivering the free kicks, corners and long throws and the Targets; those who will be the ‘targets’ for said set pieces and highlight their key attributes.
The attributes for all of the players are split into three categories:
- Technical / Goalkeeping
Important attributes for the Takers are Corners (likely wide players, Full Backs etc), Free Kick Taking (Attacking Midfielders, Central Mids, maybe Forwards) and Long Throws (Full Backs) and their ancillary attributes, such as technique, positioning, decisions and concentration.
Targets share many of those attributes too, especially heading, which appears in both attacking and defensive training modules but in terms of priority, positioning and anticipation for example, are more important to the Targets. Most Targets I intend to be tall and good at heading (likely from the defensive group or defensive midfielders) or have decent ability to hit a shot from outside of the box (long shots, anticipation, positioning)
With the purpose being to instill the set pieces philosophy; I considered my priority to be the abilities highlighted in the Set Pieces training blocks to be the primary focus and as such, would look for as many synergies with non-set piece training blocks as possible, whilst ensuring both focus on secondary attributes and balance across the training units.
Obviously the set piece elements: Corner Taking, Free Kick Taking and Long Throws are not affected outside of this set of training modules and the Goalkeeping ones will be taken care of by the Goalkeeping rotation; but attributes like Heading appearing frequently amongst both Defensive and Attack module training, Technique even more so. I had ‘heard’ that technique really improved success rate of set piece taking and consider it part of my primary focus; despite it only really being in the set piece training as a secondary focus, albeit regularly.
In my previous attempts with the training schedules, I had favored a 4 week rotation plus a Set Pieces week. Depending on what I was doing, I would either set up the year using weeks 1 through 4 and Set Pieces on rotation, Or I would go with weeks 1 through 4 separated with a Set Piece between each week. Neither option elicited a negative reaction in terms of balance, only the physical aspect was a concern.
As I am going to be paying more attention to the overall balance between the units whilst prioritizing attributes with Set Pieces as the primary; I am going to use a larger rotation. Each week will contain Set Piece focus and I have split these over two weeks; everything else used will be rotated on a week to week.
All of this rotation will be made for Saturday Game Only though I have designed them with the Tuesday game in mind; ensuring what I would consider the primary training blocks to be unchanged in the event of a Tuesday game and only minor manipulation for Match Preparation and recovery required. Prime example is that I am starting with only one physical unit each week of the main season and having it on the Tuesday means that in the event of a game, it’s replaced anyway.
For the pre-season schedule, I have worked on a rotation of 5 weeks; using the amount of physical training applied in the existing schedules as a guide plus adjustments to suit the vision. The schedules are as follows:
Week 1 – Light Physical / Light Technical
Week 2 – Medium Physical / Medium Technical
Week 3 – Heavy Physical / Medium Technical
Week 4 – Medium Physical / Medium Technical
Week 5 – Light Physical / Heavy Technical
NOTE: If you are running with a 4 week pre season, it is suggested that you drop week 2.
Main Training Routine
This is the main training routine; a 6 week balanced rotation:
This training schedule has been applied to Esbjerg fB (albeit a Sunday game version due to when Esbjerg play) and the next stage will be to monitor how it performs. I will admit that I have gone with a lower intensity compared to my previous attempts; but this is mainly to overcome the injury issue.
The most important things I will be keeping an eye out for is player happiness with the schedules; if I have got the balance and intensity right, there should be little to no complaints from any of the players and I expect there to be improvement in the key attributes too. The other thing that I am keen to keep tabs on is the number of training injuries as I wish to keep this to a more manageable level compared to what I experienced with Everton in the Beta.
A megapack of Avoiding Relegations training schedules created for his Playing for Set-pieces journeyman save.
The Training Matrix Spreadsheet
The Training Matrix is a very basic spreadsheet that shows each of the training schedule blocks against the attributes that are affected, for both Primary and Secondary Focus. The training modules are across the top in order of how you would find them within the game with the attributes down the left, in the order they appear on the player screens (Goalkeeping attributes not withstanding, I put them at the bottom).
The first sheet contains a full matrix and is just a reference using an ‘X’ in the box and the remaining sheets are split between disciplines (General, Attacking, Defending etc) and unaffected attributes in each of the training blocks are hidden for the sake of convenience on the separate sheets.
The purpose of the spreadsheet is to act as an aid when putting together a training schedule from scratch in order to identify synergies between training blocks. Once you have decided what your main focus is in terms of which attributes you wish to work on, you can use the spreadsheet to identify other training blocks that affect said attributes, but that sit within other disciplines; thereby allowing you to balance the training sessions (hopefully) whilst not neglecting your key attributes.
For example; In the bespoke schedule I have made for Playing for Set Pieces; I used the Set Piece Training blocks to help me identify the most important attributes and then used the other training blocks that supported them. The technical Set Piece skills are actually only affected within the set piece training blocks but attributes like Positioning and Heading for example, can also be found in many other schedules, allowing you to form a balance between the units and hopefully stop your players from receiving imbalanced training and thus complaining! (We hope!).
Thanks to Avoiding Relegation for his testing and great work creating these assets, and for giving us the permission to share his excellent work with our community.
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