The short answer is never. Players will not stop developing in football manager from the moment they come through your youth teams up to the time they hang up their boots in their thirties.
However, what attributes develop whether technical, mental or physical will largely depend on the player’s current age as we will see below.
Just as in the real world, different players will develop at different rates in football manager, with some developing fast to the extent of being recognized as wonderkids by the media description while the late bloomers will take a longer time before maturing into their position and realizing their potential ability.
There will also be the majority sandwiched between the wonderkids and the late bloomers who will follow the typical development curve of a football player.
How Football Manager Attributes Develop Differently With Age
Age 14 – 17
At this age, you should have your players playing in the youth team, no matter how good they are. The players will benefit more from playing in the better facilities at your club rather than being loaned out to the lower leagues where it is more likely that the facilities are not at par with yours.
Your youth coaches also having a better rating in “working with youngsters” than first team coaches in the lower leagues will also play a key part in helping the youngsters develop as intended.
Once the two conditions above are fulfilled, players between the ages of 14 and 17 will develop more quickly on their physical attributes i.e. acceleration, agility, balance, pace, stamina, natural fitness and strength as compared to their mental and technical.
You shouldn’t also specify a role in which they should be training, rather leave it at the position you want like winger, central midfielder or striker without advanced playmaker, inside forward etc being selected for uniform development in all stats.
It would be a shame if a youth player is shoehorned into a specific role like poacher or target man at such a young age that other important attributes not necessarily important to the poacher role like passing don’t develop well at all.
Age 18 – 24
Once a player turns 18, the club’s facilities and working with youngsters ability stop being the most important factors determining development, while experience and game time in a competitive level take the centre stage.
The players’ physical attributes will still keep on improving steadily, but now the technical attributes will be catching up.
It is now a good time to assign a specific role you want your players to be moulded into, depending on your first team tactics.
You should also be finding loans for your players at the age of 18, as long as they are already home-grown at your club. If not, wait another year before loaning them out.
If they are good enough, promote them to the first team and give them minutes towards the end of matches and in cup competitions.
Age 24 – 30
This is when most players hit their peak in football manager. Their development will slow down, and you won’t see major spikes in their abilities.
Furthermore, game time will still be crucial, and any player not getting enough of it will see his current ability drop down steadily.
If a player hasn’t yet shown any promise of improving, it is unlikely he will become a world-class player or anything close to it past the age of 24.
Age 30 and above
Once players, hit 30, most of them 32, their physical attributes will start dropping gradually. On the upside, to compensate for their failing physicals, their mental attributes will also increase.
Having one or two of these players with excellent mental attributes in your squad who act as good role models will massively improve the personalities of your wonder kids and other youth players through mentoring.
Moreover, you can also send them to study for their coaching badges so that once they hang up their boots, they can join your backroom staff as coaches.
5 Factors That Will Influence the Rate at Which Youth Players Improve in Football Manager
- Training facilities – The better your youth’s training facilities, the more your youth players will develop quickly.
- Youth Coaches – Youth coaches with a high “working with youngsters” attribute will be more effective in developing youth players.
- Game time – Once your youth players turn 18, game time will be the driving force in pushing them towards achieving their potential ability.
- Player Personality – Players with very good personalities like Model Citizen, Model Professional and Perfectionist will push themselves more towards becoming better, unlike players with bad personalities like fickle, unambitious and low determination.
- Squad Personality – Your squad personality is the average personality of every player in your club from the U18 to the first team. Players will tend to gravitate towards the average, therefore having a good squad personality will subsequently raise your youth players’ personality and in turn aiding in their development.
Do Players in Football Manager Grow in Height and Weight?
Just like in real life, players in FM will increase in height and gain weight slowly. This can be clearly seen in youth players who have not yet turned 18 years of age.
As a result of an increase in height, the player’s jumping reach will also see a sudden spike. Keep tab of your youth players, and you might just notice this happening.
In the same vein, a youth player’s weight can also increase. A player can gain 1 or 2 kg over a period of three to five years from what I have observed, though this is admittedly from a small sample size, so your mileage might vary.
You can also try to improve your player’s jumping reach through training, but I haven’t yet had too much success with it, as I feel the time spent perfecting a player’s jumping skills can be better used developing other technical skills.