Last updated on January 7th, 2023
Acquiring the right players and making sure they play in the right style is one of the key components of Football Manager.
But your players aren’t just machines (unless you’ve got N’Golo Kante). Even if they’re in great shape their bodies can take on damage and given enough time their mental state can too.
Seasons nowadays seem to have two games a week for most of the season, so making sure your players are up to the task of performing so frequently is an essential skill.
Recovery and rest are both crucial components of keeping your squad fit and healthy as the fixtures start to pile up throughout the season. Don’t be tricked into thinking they’re the same thing. Yes, both are important if you want to keep your team from getting injured and upset, but they entail very different things and produce different results.
That’s why it’s important to use them at the right time. You only have so many hours on the training pitch to hone your player’s skills and get your team used to the tactics you’ve got planned for them.
Once you start throwing recovery and rest into the competing sparse time slots, there’s no way you want to be putting a single hour to waste.
Here we’re going to break down the differences between recovery and rest in football manager so you can always get the most out of both and optimise your training throughout the season.
The difference between Recovery and Rest in Football Manager
They may sound similar but there are actually a lot of differences between a rest session and a recovery session. They entail different things and produce different results, so knowing which is which can really make a difference in how your season pans out.
What is done during a Recovery session and a Rest session?
The best way to look at the difference between rest and recovery is that they are passive and active, respectively.
Recovery is a process that requires work. It means actively pushing for a return to better physical shape. In general fitness terms, this means active recovery. As tempting as it may be, the best way to return to full fitness after a hard workout isn’t to sit on the sofa and gorge on junk food for 24 hours.
The best way to ensure a quick recovery includes light exercise, stretch and massages – preferably with the help of a trained physio. This is the kind of thing that a recovery training session in Football Manager entails.
A rest session or day on the other hand is a lot more laid back than that. What exactly is done in this time isn’t really in your control because that’s the whole point.
It gives your player or players the opportunity to go and live their life outside of football.
This could even mean junk food on the sofa!
If your players are professional, then they won’t do anything too unsightly in this free time that you’ve afforded them. Instead, it’s just an opportunity for them to unwind in a way that recovery or any other form of training doesn’t.
What stats do Recovery and Rest sessions help with?
As you can imagine, these two sessions produce very different results.
Recovery’s benefits are all about physical results. They help your players to improve their injury risk most of all meaning that they should get through their next match unscathed if you’re not pushing them too hard. This works by improving their condition and maintaining their physical attributes.
However, this is not a guarantee. If your players are being pushed to their limits, then there’s only so much a recovery session can do to protect them. If you have recovery sessions surrounded by an intense, physical training session and a stacked fixture list then you can bet your players are still going to get injured, especially if you have a shallow squad.
Recovery sessions are a tool that should be used in tandem with a balanced approach to minimise your players’ injury risk.
Rest, on the other hand, is more aimed at supporting your players’ mental health. Footballers have pretty gruelling schedules, even if their job is awesome in other ways.
Exercising sometimes 7 days a week for most of the year can be disgruntling, even for the most professional of players! Even if your squad is full of determination and ambition, the mind needs rest just like the body does.
You’ll notice that if you’re not balancing your players’ playing time and training schedules well, then it’ll start to show that they’re jaded. Jaded players perform poorly, train less intensely and can spread their unhappiness to other squad members.
Rest sessions or days give them the opportunity to go home and unwind or find something else to focus on other than football. This time spent away from the squad is essential when used at the right times, but overuse can cause a strain on your team’s cohesion. The best teams benefit from training with one another regularly and individuals getting used to the squad’s personalities and styles of play.
You can find out more about team cohesion here.
There is also a physical side to rest sessions. Your players will have their condition and fatigue slightly improved, but it does not protect your players from injury risk in the same way that recovery does.
For that reason, it shouldn’t always be your go-to when you’re in the crunch-end of the season and you’re starting to get worried about how thin your squad is getting stretched. Sometimes your players will need to mentally buckle down and stick to recovery sessions to stay in shape even if their minds would prefer a more relaxing rest.
So, rest sessions are good for personal, and mental health and have some physical health aspects. Again though, you have a collective to look after and overusing rests will do more harm than good for your team’s odds throughout the season. You’ll need to also have a hold on squad rotation and training intensity to make sure your arsenal of maintaining your player’s health is ready for the challenges ahead.
When’s the best time to use recovery and rest sessions?
There are lots of factors that come into play when using recovery and rest sessions.
One of the most common times to use recovery sessions is the day after a match, especially during a busy fixture period. This way, your players can stay in the mental rhythm of your competitions and are taking the necessary steps to keep themselves safe from injury.
It’s not recommended to use multiple rest periods during these busy periods as your players may fall out of sync with the rest of the squad at a time when everyone’s trying to get in the flow of sustaining good form.
Rests are best used when you have a small squad and you’re worried about going into games with players’ condition being below 80%. In such a scenario this is the best way to get them back into fighting shape in time so that they can perform near their best on match day.
Ideally, though, you’d build a squad that has the size and versatility to keep players constantly competing with one another and therefore naturally getting time on the sidelines, so their workload isn’t overwhelming.
If you only have one viable starter in each position, then they’re naturally going to get overworked and jaded eventually.
Rests are a short-term solution when this becomes too much to bear for the individual, but it’s better for both the player and your club in the long term if you can get a second player to at least offer a viable backup so your starters can recover in a healthy way and not grow complacent about their place in the team.
If you can tone down the rest of your training schedule, then neither rest nor recovery sessions will need to be used so often. Keep an eye on your players’ condition throughout the season and don’t be afraid to tweak your squad’s training schedule until you can find the right balance to match their footballing development and fitness needs.
A good manager will have an attentive eye on these sorts of details in their club. Bringing players in and expecting them to perform well is much more enjoyable if you can give them the right platform to learn and perform.
Recovery sessions are always going to be needed in a modern clubs’ training schedule, but the frequency with which you use them will depend on your players’ natural fitness, the intensity of your playing schedule, the quality of your coaching staff, the intensity of your training sessions and more.
Rest sessions should be used more sparingly, but don’t expect to be able to do without them completely. There are times when they’ll come in handy, but ideally, you can prepare your squad to go without them for the most part.
In the world of football, anything can happen, and some sort of emergency is going to end up finding its way into your club one way or another.
So when the schedule is tight and you’ve got your back to the wall, it’s always there to help you support your players.
Use this table if you need a quick checkup of the pros and cons of Recovery and Rest:
You can find out how to improve your players’ natural fitness here.
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