Before each match your players will take part in match preparation training, during which they will work on gaining tactic familiarity. You can also instruct them to work on a specific area of performance for the next match or on building team cohesion by selecting a main focus.
The proportion of team training time that your squad will spend on match preparation training is determined by your team training scheduling.
For details on setting match preparation training for your reserve and youth squads see the Youth Training guide.
An analysis of how to set up match preparation training in pre-season is provided in the Pre-Season Preparation guide.
Tactic familiarity refers to your squad’s understanding of a tactic. The higher this is the better your team will perform when using that tactic. During match preparation training your players will gain tactic familiarity in each of the tactics that you have set up on the Tactics Overview screen.
You can prepare up to three tactics in this way, while you can also save any number of tactics for future use. Saved tactics can be accessed by selecting Manage Tactics from the Tactic drop-down but they will not be prepared unless loaded.
The overall level of tactic familiarity as it stands for the currently selected tactic is shown in a bar above the formation panel on the Tactics Overview screen. Clicking the information icon next to this bar will display the eight different components of tactic familiarity and the familiarity level for each. These are formation, mentality, passing style (distance of passing), creative freedom, closing down, marking, tempo and width. The familiarity levels for each component can range from 1% (awkward) to 100% (fluid) and together they make up the overall tactic familiarity level.
The tactical instructions related to each component are explained in the Tactics guide.
However, the more tactics there are that are being prepared the slower tactic familiarity for each tactic will increase. Therefore, if your squad does not yet have a fairly high familiarity level with any tactic then it is advisable to only have your intended main tactic loaded so that familiarity in this tactic will be gained more quickly. This can be the case after you have made a lot of new signings in a short space of time, while tactic familiarity will also be low when your players have returned to training at the start of pre-season.
Any alternative tactics that you wish to prepare can be loaded when you are happy that familiarity with your main tactic has reached a sufficiently high level. Specifically, it is recommended that you wait until tactic familiarity is described as fluid for all components. Likewise, it is advisable to use the Match Tactics focus and to schedule more match preparation training when building up tactic familiarity as discussed below.
Whenever you make a change to your team instructions that alters a tactical instruction related to one of the components of tactic familiarity, the familiarity level for that component will be reduced (unless that particular tactical setting has already been prepared as part of one of your other tactics). Changing your formation will affect the formation familiarity level, changing your mentality will affect the mentality, tempo and width familiarity levels, changing your team shape will affect the creative freedom familiarity level and various specific team instructions will also affect related familiarity levels. For example, the More Direct Passing instruction will affect the passing familiarity level and also, to a lesser extent, the tempo and width familiarity levels. On the other hand, some instructions, such as Work Ball Into Box (which affects shooting), will not affect any of the tactic familiarity components.
The Specific Team Instructions guide provides details of what tactical changes are made by each of these instructions.
It is therefore recommended not to make too many adjustments to your team instructions outside of matches so as not to adversely affect tactic familiarity, especially during periods when tactic familiarity is still being built up. You can still make changes to team instructions during a match without affecting tactic preparation however, since the amended tactic will not be worked on in match preparation training unless it is saved at the time and then loaded in one of the three tactics slots after the match.
The coach that you assign to the tactics training category on the Coaches tab of the Training screen will work with your squad on tactic familiarity. Therefore, in order to increase tactic familiarity quickly it is important to ensure that you have assigned a coach to this training category.
Preparing Alternative Tactics
It is advisable to prepare two alternative tactics in addition to your main tactic to enable you to make tactical changes as appropriate before and during matches without team performance being adversely affected too much by poor tactic familiarity. Ideally, at least one of these tactics should use team instructions that are different to those used in your main tactic and at least one should use a different formation. Together, they should incorporate the most common tactical changes you make during matches.
The simplest way to do this is to prepare three tactics that you believe will each be useful in different situations, perhaps based on three different tactical styles.
However, since each of the eight components of tactic familiarity are learned independently, rather than the tactic being prepared as a whole, it is not necessary for both, or even one, of your alternative tactics to be a tactic that you actually plan to use in matches. As such, you may prefer to use contrasting team instructions in each of your alternative tactics as this will prepare a wider range of tactical alternatives that can independently be called upon when desired, even if you are unlikely to use all of the instructions that you select in a particular prepared tactic at the same time.
For example, you could prepare one alternative tactic with a more defensive mentality, shorter passing, narrower width, a higher tempo and less creative freedom, and another with a more attacking mentality, more direct passing, wider width, a lower tempo and more creative freedom.