If you’ve ever played Football Manager, you know how much damage a crowded schedule can do.
Your whole squad is at peak match sharpness. Everybody is finally doing what they’re supposed to do. Life is good.
Then, out of nowhere – BAM! – three of your best players get injured for a month.
Oh, the misery. You know that feeling, don’t you?
Yeah, I’ve been there as well. It’s ok though, we can recover. You can do one better.
You can prepare.
You can train an underrated attribute which will directly lower the chances of your players getting injured.
You will even ensure your players’ stats decline slower once they start to grow old.
Yup, you read that right. A single attribute does all that, and more. That’s the power of Natural Fitness, baby!
In this article, I will go into more detail about what Natural Fitness is in Football Manager. Afterwards, I’ll show you 3 ways you can improve this attribute.
Ready? Let’s roll!
What is Natural Fitness in Football Manager?
First of all, Natural Fitness is an attribute. It goes from 1 to 20, just like all other attributes. Fortunately, it’s not a hidden one, meaning you can check a player’s Natural Fitness whenever you like.
At its core, Natural Fitness gives you a rough idea of how likely your player is to get injured when he gets over-trained or over-played.
I like to think of it as a sort of “long-term stamina”, which helps me understand how prone a player is to exhaustion throughout the season.
Moreover, this attribute affects how quickly a player’s condition will recover between matches. It can also slow the rate at which condition falls during periods without training, such as holidays. Finally, it can help fight jadedness.
Wait, what’s jadedness?
Jadedness is a hidden attribute, that indicates how “burnt-out” one of your players is. The more a footballer plays and the heavier his training workload is, the more his level of jadedness will rise.
What happens when a footballer gets too jaded?
First of all, the game will tell you a player is jaded and needs rest. Should you decide to play him, his performance will hugely suffer, and he’ll get tired more quickly. He also won’t be able to recover as quickly from matches anymore.
The only way to get rid of jadedness is to rest a player and avoid playing him too much. Holidays and extended leaves will help too. Natural Fitness will affect how quickly jadedness goes away and how easily it can build up.
How do I improve Natural Fitness in Football Manager?
Here are some tips you can use to improve natural fitness for a player in Football Manager:
#1 Set Up a Training Schedule
If you’d like to train Natural Fitness in your whole squad, you can set up a training schedule accordingly.
The best training sessions for Natural Fitness are the “Fitness” and “Endurance” sessions, found under “General” and “Physical” respectively.
Watch out, physical training is very intense and demanding. If you focus too much on these sessions during the season, you will end up with a lot of injured players.
If you’re starting to worry about your team’s physical shape, you should check out the Medical Centre.
Specifically, you should visit the “Risk Assessment” tab in your Medical Centre, which will tell you exactly how physically strained your squad is.
You’ll gain important knowledge about the fatigue, training load and match load levels of every single player within your squad.
Instead, what I suggest you do is focus on developing your player’s Natural Fitness during pre-season and when coming back from long breaks.
For example, you could focus on physical training during the World Cup break.
Moreover, these training sessions will improve other important attributes like Strength and Stamina.
Here’s a cool training schedule I like to use when I want to focus on improving Natural Fitness.
#2 Give Your Younger Players Time to Develop
So, there’s a big problem when it comes to developing Natural Fitness.
As the name suggests, it’s an attribute which is, first and foremost, influenced by a footballer’s nature.
For a real-life example, take Eden Hazard.
Throughout his career, he always had to deal with muscular problems, which led to him playing a measly 55 games in three full seasons.
Hazard received a Natural Fitness rating of ’12’ in the game, but between me and you, I think it should be one or two points lower!
Fortunately, Natural Fitness is not a fully static attribute. It can be improved through rigorous training, but it will take some time, and results may vary.
If you’ve got a promising youngster with 6 Natural Fitness, there’s not much you can do, apart from training him properly and hoping for the best.
So, when you’re struggling to impact a younger player’s Natural Fitness, don’t fret – it’s by design, and you aren’t doing anything wrong.
Give them time, and they may surprise you!
#3 Be Gentle!
This is another tip related to managing youngsters with low Natural Fitness.
The last thing you want to do with a fragile youngster is to increase their chances of getting injured.
The last time we didn’t pay attention to this, Ronaldo Nazario went from hero to zero pretty quickly.
Point is, you should consider being more gentle whenever you’re dealing with this type of player.
If you’re planning on playing them to give them experience and improve their attributes, you should try preparing a tactic with a slower tempo.
When training them, make sure they’re not overloaded. If you need to, consider removing their additional focus. If you keep treating them like this, they will have more chances to develop naturally, and their Natural Fitness could see a major improvement.
You can find out how a Recovery training session differs from a Rest session here.
Natural Fitness is a key component to ensuring your players do not get injured very easily.
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