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Player Attributes Explained

This is an overview of all the (visible) player attributes in FM2011, hopefully explained as simple as possible. There are lots of misunderstandings about what certain attributes do, and how they translate into the match engine, and this article will explain them all.

Types of Attributes

There are three types of attributes; background, prime and secondary attributes.

Background attributes are attributes that are constant. They are either passive or active, and are always checked first by the match engine to see if the prime and secondary attributes should be used or not. Example; the determination attribute controls the length of time the player puts in an effort in a match. For every action, this attribute is checked to see if it’s passive or active (passive at the start of a match, active towards the end of a match), and then other attributes follow.

Prime attributes are attributes that controls the success of other attributes. They are simply defined by being responsible for the secondary attribute to be successful. Example; without the decisions attribute (prime), the passing attribute (secondary) will have little success, as the choice of where to place the pass is controlled by the prime attribute decisions. So even though the accuracy is good, the decision of where to aim is bad.

Secondary attributes are always tied in with a prime attribute, and are either accuracy or situation based.

All actions a player performs in the game are a result of a string of attributes, usually starting out with one or more background attributes, then one or more prime attributes, and lastly one or more secondary attributes. Example – a player makes a short simple pass:

Background attributes > Creativity (prime) > Decisions (prime) > Passing (secondary).

Background attributes decide if the pass is even made in the first place. Creativity presents the player with X amount of options. Decisions controls what option the player goes for. Passing controls the accuracy of the pass in the end. There are several background attributes in play, either passive or active…but in its simplest form, those attributes are the requirement for a short simple pass.

Another example – a player takes a shot at goal:

Background attributes > Creativity (prime) > Technique (prime) > Decisions (prime) > Composure (secondary) > Finishing (secondary)

Teamwork (background) decides if the shot is in the best interest of the team or not. Determination (background) decides if the player will even perform the shot (he might have given up trying). Creativity presents the player with X amount of options. Technique decides the range of options as to what type of shot the player can perform. Decisions controls how well the decision is to shoot (and where to aim). Composure controls how well the player makes his choices under pressure, and finishing controls the accuracy of the shot in the end.

Technical Attributes

In this category there is only one prime attribute; technique, and there are no background attributes. All other attributes in this section are secondary, and they’re all accuracy based.

CornersAccuracy of a corner kick
Secondary to the anticipation (how will my teammates move) and decisions (where do I place the corner) prime attributes.

CrossingAccuracy of a cross
Secondary to the anticipation (how will my teammates move) and decisions (when and where will I place the cross) prime attributes.

DribblingAccuracy of a dribble
Secondary to the anticipation (how will my opponent move) and technique (do I have the trick in my repertoire) prime attributes.

FinishingAccuracy of a shot at goal
Secondary to the composure (will I make a calm decision under pressure), technique (do I have the type of shot in my repertoire) and decisions (where will I place the shot, when will I shoot and what kind of shot do I use) prime attributes.

First TouchHow well a player controls the ball upon receiving it
As soon as a player receives the ball, this attribute decides how well he controls the ball in order to do what he wants to do. Secondary to the creativity (what options do I have to choose between) and decisions (what is the best option) prime attributes, as he has to make a choice while the ball is on its way towards him.

Free Kick TakingAccuracy of a free kick
Secondary to the technique (do I have the type of free kick in my repertoire) and decisions (where do I place the free kick) prime attributes.

HeadingAccuracy of a header
Secondary to the anticipation (where will the ball end up), and decisions (how and where will I head the ball) prime attributes.

Long ShotsAccuracy of a long shot
Secondary to the creativity (what options do I have), technique (do I have the type of shot in my repertoire) and decisions (where will I place the shot) prime attributes.

Long ThrowsAccuracy and length of a long throw
Secondary to the decisions (where will I aim my throw) prime attribute.

MarkingHow well a player marks an opposition player
Used closely with the tackling attribute to decide how well a player defends against an opponent. It also controls how well a player understands his zone.

PassingAccuracy of a pass
Secondary to the anticipation (how will my teammates move), creativity (what options do I have) and decisions (when, how and to whom will I distribute my pass) prime attributes.

Penalty TakingAccuracy of a spot kick
Secondary to the decisions (where will I place the penalty kick) and composure (will I keep calm under pressure) prime attributes.

TacklingAccuracy and timing of a tackle
Secondary to the decisions (how and when will I make my tackle) prime attribute.

TechniquePrime AttributeThe width of the player’s repertoire
The easiest way to describe technique is that it controls the width of the player’s technical range. The higher the attribute, the more the player can actually do with the ball. As an example; if a player wants to shoot a Roberto Carlos type banana shot, he has to have it in his repertoire, and that’s where the technique attribute comes in.

Mental Attributes

Most of the prime attributes are in this category. The secondary attributes are mostly situation specific, like bravery and influence.

AggressionHow combative a player is
A high attribute means an energetic and forceful player. A low attribute means a docile and unassertive player. This has little to do with how violent a player is, which is more controlled by invisible attributes like dirtiness and sportsmanship.

AnticipationPrime AttributeThe prediction of other player’s movements
Otherwise known as being able to ‘read the game’. Anticipation is used when performing actions that involves other outfield players, like passing, crossing, intercepting, etc. In chess, it’s the ability to predict what moves the opponent will perform in X amount of turns.

BraveryThe sacrifice a player will make to gain an advantage
Or translated into FM terms; how much a player is willing to risk injury in order to win a ball, not concede a goal, etc.

ComposureHow well a player performs under pressure
Pressure means pressure from opposition players, but also pressure to score or pass in an important moment. Secondary to the decisions (am I calm enough to make the correct decision) prime attribute.

Concentration – (Background) – How long the player will make correct decisions
A high attribute means the player will use his decisions and anticipation prime attributes better throughout the length of a match. A low attribute means the player will make more mistakes (essentially not utilise his decisions and anticipation attributes well).

CreativityPrime AttributeControls the mental repertoire
A prime attribute similar to the technique attribute, controlling the width of the players mental repertoire. In order to make a certain decision, the player must know the choice even exists in the first place. This is where creativity comes in – it decides how many choices a player can choose between. A high attribute means more choices.

DecisionsPrime AttributeControls the quality of decisions the player makes
Also a prime attribute, and this is one of the most important attributes in the game. A player is constantly presented with options, and the decisions attribute controls if the player chooses the best option. It also controls how and when an option is performed. Decision is what, when and how. Even though it’s a prime attribute, it’s secondary to the creativity (what are the options) and technique (what am I able to do technically) prime attributes.

Determination – (Background) – How long the player will give 100% in a match
A low determination attribute means a player ‘gives up’ earlier. High attribute means the player would fight until the end.

FlairControls the players tendency to do the unexpected
Flair means ‘style’ or ‘originality’, but in Football Manager it simply translates into players doing unexpected things. Which essentially means the ability to override an opponents anticipation skill. Secondary to the creativity (what options do I have), decisions (what is the best option) prime attributes, and whatever accuracy attribute needed at the end of the action.

InfluenceDecides if a player makes a good captain
Unlike many theories and speculations, this attribute is very simple; it’s used for deciding a captain at the club. A low attribute means the other players won’t respect the decision of who is captain, or listen to him in emergency meetings. A captain with a high influence attribute creates harmony in the squad.

Off The BallHow well the player utilises space when not in possession of the ball
This attribute is not only important for a player to make himself available for a pass or assist, but also for a player to draw opposition players away from their positions, creating space and opportunities for his teammates. Secondary to the decisions (when, how and where should I move) prime attribute.

PositioningThe accuracy of a players position
This attribute controls how well a player positions himself, depending on what’s going on around him. Secondary to the anticipation (how will others move around me) and decisions (where should I be) prime attributes.

Teamwork – (Background) – Controls the player ego
A low attribute means the player will put his own best interest before the best interests of the team, like trying to shoot for goal instead of passing to a team mate, even though the team mate might be in a better position to score. A high attribute means the player would base decisions on what is best for the team, not what is best for himself.

Work Rate – (Background) – Decides how often a player is active
A low attribute means the player would not spend too much time in off the ball decisions, and rather wait for an opportunity to arise instead of trying to create the situation himself. A high attribute means the player would make himself available and involve himself in play as much as possible.

Physical Attributes

AccelerationHow fast a player can reach his maximum speed
Used together with the pace attribute, it decides how fast the player can reach his maximum pace.

AgilityHow easily a player moves
A low attribute means the player is ‘sluggish’. A high attribute means the player is nimble and light-footed.

BalanceControls how long a player can keep on his feet under pressure
Often used together with strength in shoulder to shoulder situations, and decides if a player can keep on his feet through pressure situations like tackles, etc. A high attribute means that the player will be able to stay on his feet for longer.

JumpingMaximum height a player can reach
Jumping is how far a player can get his head from the ground. Height is also taken into account, deciding whether or not the player needs to jump in the first place. Two players with the exact same attribute will have the ability to reach the same height when jumping off the ground.

Natural FitnessDecline and recovery of physical attributes
Long term attribute that controls the level of decline when it comes to the physical attributes. It also controls how well a player returns from injury. Essentially, a high attribute means a longer career and faster recovery from injuries.

PaceDecides the maximum speed
Loosely secondary to the decisions (when should I utilise my speed) prime attribute.

StaminaDecides the rate of decline of the players condition
The higher this attribute is, the longer a player can keep going without getting tired. It’s fully connected to the match condition of the player.

StrengthPlayer sturdiness
Only used in conjunction with an opposition player, helping to decide who wins a tackle, shoulder to shoulder situation, etc.


Background attributes control if the action is even performed in the first place.

Concentration – Am I aware of what’s happening so I can use my anticipation and decisions attributes?

Determination – Am I still determined to use my skills, or have I given up?

Teamwork – Am I performing this action in the best interest of the team, or in the best interest of myself?

Work Rate – Will I create this situation, or will I wait for someone else to create it for me?

Prime attributes control the success rate of an action.

Technique – Am I able to perform this action, do I have it in my repertoire?

Anticipation – Will I be able to predict the next move?

Creativity – Do I know what the options are?

Decisions – What, how and where will I perform the action?

All other attributes are accuracy or situation based.

  • Marco

    Great article and very helpfull! Tanks very much.


  • Screenager

    While I knew of the link between, say, decisions and passing, I never appreciated exactly how they interacted. I’ll certainly be giving a lot more weight to the mental attributes from now on. Just out of interest, where did you get these insights into the match engine from?

    Great article, really useful. Thanks!

  • Vegetable

    Hi, was looking at aggression and it wasn’t clear to me how it was different from bravery and say, determination. Any ideas what aggression does specifically?

  • http://www.mantralux.com mantralux

    Aggression is about how much the player involves himself in play and gets stuck in to benefit the team. Bravery is how much the player will risk an injury for the benefit of the team, and determination is how long the player will give 100% in the match.

  • http://www.mantralux.com mantralux

    Thanks! The information has been gathered from several sources, but specifically comments made by PaulC (the guy who created the match engine) on the official SI forums and the official manual (found here: http://www.footballmanager.com/manual/173). There is also an excellent article by Cleon, that explains attributes in specific situations, going more in-depth with examples instead of being just a reference type article like this one. That article can be found here: http://community.sigames.com/showthread.php/238682-Explanation-of-the-Impact-of-Player-Attributes-During-Match-Play-*Updated-for-FM11*

  • Kresten

    So wait….. You’re a FM-fanatic, Star Wars nerd AAAAND an Arsenal supporter? I hereby declare you as Wonder woman! :-)

    But on the serious side, great article, lots of helpful stuff, I’ll definately be taking this into consideration :-)

  • http://www.jorgemartins.org Jorge Martins

    Hi, first of all congrats on writing the article!
    I was just looking at, for example, Tackling, where it says “Secondary to the decisions”. Couldn’t we say “Secondary to technique (do I know how to dive into tackles without commit foul)” as well? Or maybe Marking could be secondary to anticipation (be there before the opponent reaches the ball), couldn’t it? I mean, there is a lot of attributes that can (at least a little bit) contribute in a way or another to the success of a move. Am I right or I misunderstood some part of the article?

  • http://www.mantralux.com mantralux

    You’re right about the marking attribute, anticipation plays a big role there. But technique doesn’t have much to do with tackling, as tackling is the attribute that decides whether it’s a successful tackle or not. Technique has little to do with it, and is more of a repertoire for passing and shooting and so on. =)

  • Adriano

    Nice article, helped to clear up some questions of mine. Just one thing that caught my eye:

    “Penalty Taking – Accuracy of a spot kick
    Secondary to the decisions (where will I place the penalty kick) and composure (will I keep calm under pressure) prime attributes.”

    Anticipation would surely play in here? Altough in real life, many players just hammers it into the corner they had picked out in advance, the best penalty takers often just observe where the keeper is going during the run-up, and places it calmly in the opposite corner. The first thing that springs to my mind when thinking about that exact part of the penalty shooting process, has to be anticipation.

  • http://www.mantralux.com mantralux

    Although I agree this happens in real life, I very much doubt that it plays a part in Football Manager. I think Composure and Penalty Taking are the only visible attributes that plays an important part in a penalty kick. Anticipation might play a part for the goalkeeper, but that attribute is mostly used in outfield play, as a measure of how well a player reads the game. =)

  • Andy

    I think too much weight is put on the Decisions attribute. According to the article it influences almost every action.

    While I agree that in order to take a long shot a conscious decision must be made (Long Shots & Decisions interact, plus maybe Technique) or to choose a passing option, long or short, ‘hollywood ball’ or simple, I think more instinctive actions like shooting would be different.

    For example, a player is put through into the box he looks up and shoots, the decision would be much more instinctive and therefore the decision-making process would be contained within the attribute itself (in this case Finishing) so for this example the attributes at play would be Finishing (skill to put the ball in the back of the net) and Composure (handle the pressure of the moment).

    Also, as I see it, the First Touch attribute is surely heavily influenced by Technique and doesn’t have anything to do with Creativity or Decisions. First Touch is the ability to receive the ball and control it instinctively, while the level of Technique would dictate how efficient (or quick and tidy) the player would be in executing this action. Then once the ball is under his control Creativity and Decisions would come into play for what he does next.

    Some nice ideas but some theories are also quite flawed. I also believe that in most cases the combination of 2 or 3 attributes would be the norm, not 4 or 5 as often stated above.

    Any opinions??

  • Sethisuwan

    Wow awesome article. I had been playing CM into FM for such a long time and never knew exactly what the numbers meant. Now finally I do and it makes understanding the game so much more better.


  • Sethisuwan

    also i must say, it is a VERY well written and well described article. it makes everything clear as day now.

  • wolfnotes

    Are long passes and short passes determined by the same passing attribute. Seems like there should be a separate attribute like there is with finishing and long shots.

  • http://www.mantralux.com mantralux

    Passing only controls the accuracy of the pass, regardless of how long or short it is.

  • Serenity

    Great article,
    thanks mann very muchhh

  • http://avoidingthedrop.com/ Magnakai Haaskivi

    Great write up. My question concerns PPMs; how do they insert themselves in the chain of events? For instance, say a player has a “Shoots From Distance” PPM. When it comes to long shots, does that usurp his “Decisions” stat (as he’s already decided to shoot), or does it just weight that decision more?

  • Anonymous

    Very interesting indeed, though I was an experienced FM player and aware of what attributes stand for but did learn a lot from the article. What I`d have liked was a bit more explanation on the defending side of it. All examples and descriptions seemed to be for situations in which the player is attacking. For example, as I understood the decisions is linked with creativity (the payer needs to spot the opportunity first and then decide if it is the best option), but I am very convinced that it is also very important for defenders (will the player try to tackle or simply mark the player, not allowing him space..etc.). This is what I didn`t quite get…

  • http://www.arsenalreport.com Ix Techau

    There is an updated FM2012 version of this article coming soon, with a re-vamped system for identifying attributes. Stay tuned!

  • 风华似水

    That means the decision is the most important for a good player.

  • Jkgjhgjh

    thx its great article 

  • Auranghzeb

    Thats why players like britton, smolarek or angulo are (angulo was) top players regardless other stats. and why 20+ mill quid players sometimes are rubbish

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Maxim-Jochim/100002245397395 Maxim Jochim

    Technique has no influence for passing and crossing? No mistake?

  • Anonymous

     umm..Ix Techau..coming soon?

  • Barry Lobban

    Barry Lobban fucking hates dundee

  • Liam Lobban

    Junkie Bark

  • NlGGA