Before we get into this I want to go on record and say this isn’t trying to say determination is a placebo, a lie, a myth – far from it. I was once a determination simp, but then I realised over the past few years it’s not the final infinity stone in the gauntlet that I and many others treat it like. There is a saying “Am I teaching Granny to suck eggs?” it’s very odd and I don’t remember what the context is right now but it basically means “I’m probably saying stuff you already know and is pretty simple!” But with FM I feel many of us often get drawn into overcomplicating the simpler things. We all know Football Manager is a complex game with a multitude of variables that can influence a player’s performance, and determination is just one of them. The game’s AI takes into account a wide range of factors such as a player’s technical abilities, tactical understanding, physical attributes, and mental attributes including determination.

Determination is a mental attribute that represents a player’s resilience, tenacity, and motivation. It can be trained and developed over time, but it’s not as simple as just assigning a player to a magical determination training regime. It’s more about creating an environment where the player can improve his or her mental attributes, such as providing positive feedback and motivation, giving the player opportunities to prove themselves in games, and having good relationships with teammates etc. However, as mentioned earlier determination is not the be-all and end-all of a player’s mental attributes. Other factors, such as the hidden attributes ambition, professionalism, and adaptability, are also important for a player’s long-term success in the game.

These are Messi’s hidden attributes in the Pre-Game Editor.

In contrast, these are those of a player who has had a troubled career, you can see the difference and imagine how it impacts the vastly differing personalities.

One common mistake that many Football Manager players make is overvaluing determination to the point where they neglect other important attributes. For example, a player with high determination but low technical ability may struggle to make an impact on the pitch, no matter how hard they work. Conversely, a player with excellent technical skills but low determination may struggle to reach their full potential, it’s about finding the right balance more than anything, as on it’s own determination is fairly useless.

Mentoring groups can be a powerful tool for developing a player’s personality, traits and determination. The idea behind mentoring groups is to pair younger, less experienced players with more established veterans in the team, creating a supportive environment where the younger players can learn from their more experienced peers.

If we look at it from an IRL point of view,  when done right, mentoring groups can help players develop their mental attributes in several ways. First, by being exposed to the positive attitudes and work ethic of more experienced players, younger players can learn to adopt these habits themselves which is the case in game as they will gain both positive and negative traits from the mentoring players. This can help to instil a winning mentality throughout the team, as players learn to push themselves harder and strive for excellence. Second, by being mentored by players with high determination and other positive mental attributes, younger players can learn to develop these qualities themselves, although in game this is limited to determination. This is because determination and personality/traits can be “contagious”, with as mentioned players absorbing them from their mentors.

Finally, mentoring groups can also help to foster a sense of unity and team spirit within the squad. This can be especially important in Football Manager, where team cohesion and morale can have a significant impact on a team’s performance. By creating a supportive, positive team culture, mentoring groups can help to improve overall team performance on the pitch. It’s worth noting that mentoring groups are also not a magic wand for developing mental attributes, and they won’t work for every player or team. It’s important to carefully select the right players for the mentoring group, taking into account their personalities, playing styles, and other factors.

So how can we as managers utilise the way the game will interpret positive mental environments? The game mechanics and AI are designed to take into account the manager’s interactions with the players, including how they communicate and motivate them. These interactions can have a significant impact on a player’s determination and mentality, for better or for worse. For example, if a manager consistently provides positive feedback and encouragement to their players, this can help to boost their determination and other mental attributes. Similarly, if a manager creates a supportive and positive team culture, this can help to improve overall team morale and performance. Conversely, if a manager is overly critical or negative towards their players, this can harm their determination and other mental attributes. Similarly, if a manager creates a toxic or divisive team culture, this can lead to low morale and poor performance on the pitch.

The AI in Football Manager is designed to interpret these interactions in a realistic and dynamic way, taking into account factors such as the player’s personality, relationship with the manager, and past experiences. For example, a player with a low self-confidence (The hidden pressure attribute etc) may be more susceptible to negative feedback, while a player with a high determination attribute may be more motivated by positive feedback and challenges. The game has also evolved in recent years to include a variety of tools and features that can help managers to communicate and interact with their players in a more effective way. For example, managers can hold team meetings to address morale issues, provide individual training and development plans, and use the media to motivate players and generate positive press coverage.

Using these mechanics can lead to a great environment for players to thrive in, this is a small snippet of one of my teams on a save. Positive reinforcement, praise and the occasional telling off in the right places works wonders.

Ok, so that covers what is available to help improve a players determination, so if they are an absolute superstar with 10-11 determination you know that there is scope to improve this. For myself one of the main usurpers to the determination domination is natural fitness. While both of these attributes are important for player performance, there are some important differences between them when it comes to improving them in-game.

Natural Fitness is a measure of a player’s physical condition and ability to perform at a high level for extended periods of time. This attribute is important for players in positions that require a high level of physical activity, such as midfielders and full-backs. However, natural fitness is largely innate and difficult to improve significantly over time, as it is largely determined by a player’s genetics.

This is a great example of how a player over the course of 8-9 seasons has dramatically improved in Determination, but not budged in regards to Natural Fitness – which wasnt very high anyway!

Determination, on the other hand, measures a player’s willingness to work hard and push themselves to their limits. Which we have already covered can be worked on, with several available mechanics. Therefore, bringing in players with higher natural fitness and average determination can be more beneficial in Football Manager. By focusing on improving their determination attribute (as well as the normal training focuses), managers can help to create a team culture that values hard work and dedication, which can lead to better performance within the match engine environment.. In addition, players with higher natural fitness and average determination can provide a solid foundation for building a successful team. These players are often more consistent and reliable than those with lower natural fitness and/or determination, which can help to improve team morale and overall performance.

Natural fitness is just one of many attributes that can impact a player’s performance. The game mechanics are designed to take into account how different attributes interact with each other to create a more realistic and dynamic simulation of real-life football matches. For example, a player with high natural fitness and good stamina attributes will be able to perform at a high level for longer periods of time. This can be particularly important in positions that require a high level of physical activity. Naturally, on the other hand, a player with high natural fitness but poor technique attributes may struggle to perform effectively in more technical positions, such as attacking midfielders or forwards.

The game also takes into account how different attributes interact with each other within the match engine itself. For example, a player with high acceleration and pace attributes may be able to make quick runs past the opposition defence, but if they lack good decision-making or finishing attributes, they may struggle to make the most of those opportunities – although finishing seems a bit of a placebo at times, I’ve seen players with 7 finishing dominate the scoring charts at the highest levels. Similarly, a player with good vision and passing attributes may be able to create scoring opportunities for their team, but if they lack the physical attributes to keep up with the pace of the game, they may struggle to be effective over the course of a full match.

[videopress LIVBx17G]

This clip shows, how a player with Natural Fitness, trained Determination and good Stamina can make a huge difference. At around 20 seconds, pay attention to the LB and his position on the pitch, then moments later he puts the ball in the back of the net. 

Having high acceleration, pace, and determination attributes but low natural fitness can create a challenging situation for both the player and the team. While these attributes can help a player perform well in short bursts, their low natural fitness can lead to a drop in performance over the course of a full match. Furthermore, a player with low natural fitness may be more prone to injuries and fatigue, which can lead to missed matches and decreased overall team performance. Injuries can also lead to a loss of form and confidence, which can further impact a player’s performance and mentality aka determination.

While determination can be trained and can help a player push through difficult situations, it can only take a player so far without the proper natural fitness to back it up. Therefore, it is important for managers to consider a player’s natural fitness when evaluating their overall performance and potential contribution to the team. Although these players can struggle to see out 90 minutes regularly, you may still want to use them for many reasons such as monetary, injuries, suspensions and my usual one deep emotional connection to a 35 year old half star newgen who I signed in the depths of level 10. While these players may not be able to maintain their performance level for the full duration of a match, their ability to make quick runs and create scoring opportunities can be crucial in key moments of a game. A manager can utilise these players as impact substitutes, bringing them on in the latter stages of a match to inject pace and energy into the team and exploit the tiredness of the opposition.

While there is no right or wrong way to play Football Manager, a focus on attributes such as natural fitness and other hard-to-improve areas can be beneficial for player evaluation and development. Players with high natural fitness and other physical attributes can provide a solid foundation for performance over the course of a full match, while attributes such as determination and mentality can be trained and improved over time. Finding that balance can make a difference to whether or not you enjoy your time with a team, hopefully by returning to the basics here it has reminded us (I do 100% include me in this) that a lower determination isn’t a total no go, unless its at like 1! At this point put a “gone for lunch” sign in the window. Leave it 5 minutes and they will give up and leave due to low determination, though they may jog away due to higher natural fitness too! Thanks for reading.



  • TheFMU

    Paul, known within the Football Manager community as FMU, is a prolific content creator and contributor at "View From The Touchline. . Paul's creations include insightful articles, graphical add-ons like the FMUGen MegaPack, and collaborative projects such as "The Football Manager Playbook" alongside Cleon Hobson. Through his engaging content and community interactions, notably on Twitter as @TheFMU, Paul enriches the Football Manager community with valuable resources and discussions.

Leave a Reply