Work Rates Guide for FIFA 21 Ultimate Team

Work Rates Guide for FIFA 21 Ultimate Team

Work Rates are responsible to determine how often your player will defend and attack. Follow this guide to learn everything about Work Rates for FIFA 21 Ultimate Team, including how to select the perfect Work Rate and how they are affected by instructions and custom tactics.


Work Rates for FIFA 21

What are Work Rates?

When you build a FUT squad, you have to choose your players based on their chemistry, positions, attributes and prices. If you are not a casual player, you also look to their height, preferred foot, weak foot, skill moves and… work rates. Unlike many people thinks, Work Rates affect the way how your players and your team plays.

Lets start by the basic. Work Rates dictate where players position themselves on the pitch. Also known as Player Work Rate, it is the rate of a player’s behaviour on the pitch in terms of attacking and defensive works. The Work Rate is defined for Attacking (Attacking Work Rate – Abbreviated as AWR) and Defensive (Defensive Work Rate – Abbreviated as DWR) and rated between low, medium and high, which defines how a player puts effort to participates in attacks and defences even when they are out of position.

A high attacking work rate implies that the player is going to be in all of your attack moves. With medium, he will select the attack actions he will join. A player with low attacking work rate will remain in his position while the team attacks. With the defence, it is exactly the same but in the opposite direction.

You can find the player’s work rate in his Bio page (Squads > Select a Player > Player Details) or visiting a FUT database. As you can see on the Deco‘s image, it is always shown first the attacking work rate and only then the defensive work rate. Be aware that they cannot be modified in FIFA Ultimate Team.

Work Rates Guide for FIFA 21

The Perfect Work Rate

Understanding the pros and cons of Work Rates/small>

Work Rates are very important but, when selecting a player for your team, you should look first at his attributes, position and attributes. Only then, when you already have a shortlist, take work rates into consideration, making it as an effective eliminatory factor. The real question here is: what are the perfect work rates? To find the answer to this, we will look at a few examples.

Let’s imagine that you use a classic 433 formation and the three CMs have all high attacking work rates. When losing the ball, your defence will be too exposed since no one will go back to help them. Let’s now assume that you play with a lonely striker and he has a high defensive work rate. It may look great since he will support the rest of the team when you don’t have possession. However, as soon as you recover the ball, most likely he will be out of position and you will lose your only reference in the attack.

High/high work rates may look the best ones, but this is far to be true. First, because you will need players with a very high stamina stat. Otherwise, they will be tired fast and become useless. Besides that, since they always will be running up and down, they will be out of position too often affecting the organization f your team. In another hand, you should also avoid low/low work rates if you want players to cover as much field as possible.

As you can see in these examples, there are not perfect work rates for each position or even each player. If you want to select the best work rates possible for each situation, you have to look at the following factors:

1 Formation;
2 Custom Tactics;
3 Player’s Instructions;
4 Player’s Attributes;
5 Playing Style;
6 The Rest of the Squad.

A deep analyze to all these factors, will guide you to the perfect work rates for each case. To be sure that you understand the importance of these factors, we will look at a few simple examples.

As we have seen above, you shouldn’t use a striker with high defensive work rate if he plays alone on the front. However, you can do it if you use a formation with two strikers. In the same way, it’s almost useless to use players with high defensive work rate if they don’t feature decent defensive attributes. It’s also easy to understand that a counter-attacking style will require wingers and forwards with low defensive work rates because you will need them in their natural positions as fast as possible. Finally, you should also know that is unacceptable to play with two centre backs with low defending work rates, but it’s okay to have just one.


Work Rates Suggestions

General cases

Unfortunately, it is not possible to publish here the best WR for each case, since they depend on too many factors. Just as a guideline, we will leave here the work rates we believe are more appropriate for each position but don’t forget that you have to analyse your case to see if it fits to you or not.

CB | Low/High
These are the players you will need in their natural positions all the time. If you want them to support the midfield, at least do it with fast players.

RB/LB | Medium/High
The main role of fullbacks is to give security to the backline but most of them are high/medium, meaning that they are out of position too often.

CDM/CM | Medium/High
Once again, these players should focus on the defence but without losing the chance to help the most advanced teammates. This work rate should be adjusted according to the number of CDM/CMs in your team.

CAM | High/Medium
Attacking Midfielders have a crucial role in the attacking. However, they should also be the first players to defend.

Wingers | High/Low
As far as possible, you should leave your wingers focused on the attack. It doesn’t mean that they cannot help the backline, but there are other players more suitable to do it.

ST | High/Low
This is the man responsible to score goals. That’s why he should be in the opposite box as long as possible, leaving defensive duties for the other players.

It is important to notice that these are only suggestions. Make your own decisions based on the factors for your cases. You should also know that there is no problem if you can’t find good players with these exact work rates. When we say that high/low is the best work rate for a striker, it means that it is also OK to use high/medium or medium/low. In this case, for example, you should avoid work rates like low/high, medium/high or low/medium.

Keep also in mind that a player’s work rate, affects decisively the number of fitness points he’s going to lose. It defines the predisposition a player has concerning the different field zones he’s going to occupy. That is how he’s going to behave when you’re not controlling him. It’s the work rate what determines if he will run or not while he’s not being controlled by you and for that reason, players with highest work rates, defenders or attackers, are the ones most likely to get tired faster.


Work Rates, Instructions and Tactics

The most controversial topics

It is very usual to see people asking if instructions overrule work rates or not. To answer this and other questions, we will need to go deeper into each one: work rates, instructions and tactics.



The best way to understand how work rates work is in the form of a heat map. They dictate where players position themselves on the pitch, in the context of their original starting point. Importantly, work rates don’t dictate how ‘hard’ a player will perform in attack or defence but rather what types of space they will occupy. In fact, the post-game heat map for each individual player on your team is a great resource to see how work rates determine where those players are for the majority of the game. Another important point of note is that attacking work rates don’t impact defensive work rates and vice versa – it’s not a synthesis; in other words, when you have possession, players will position based on their attacking work rates, and when you don’t have possession they will position based on their defensive work rates. It’s not a ratio (e.g. M/H on a CDM doesn’t mean he’s 35% attacking and 65% defensive at all times).

Attacking Work Rates:
High – Players will push deep into the attacking third, into the box, into the corners of the wings etc.
Medium – Players will play from the midfield to outside the penalty area.
Low – Players will not play much further than from outside the defensive penalty area up to the defensive midfield

Defensive Work Rates:
High – Players will drop deep into the defensive third, into the box, into the corners of the wings etc.
Medium – Players will play from the midfield to outside the defensive penalty area.
Low – Players will not drop much further than outside the attacking penalty area up to the attacking midfield.

How do work rates couple on an individual player, and between players? A H/M CAM, left untouched in terms of instructions, will push into the box in the attack and drop to the defensive midfield without possession, at times close to the penalty box. An L/H CB will drop into the defensive penalty box without possession and remain just outside the box in the attack. Collectively, they will determine a team’s overall shape in attack and defence. Think of it like dots connected by triangles that shift depending on possession of the ball. This is critical, because you may select a certain formation, but that formation’s shape will morph in attack and defence depending on the work rates of each individual position. For example, you might want a flat backline at all times but you have an H/M LB, an L/H LCB, an H/H RCB, and an M/H RB. On default instructions, the following will occur in attack and defence:

Attack – The LB will push all the way to the attacking third; the LCB will stay near the defensive penalty box; the RCB will push to the midfield; and, the RB will also push to the midfield. This is not a flat back four.
Defense – The LB will drop to outside the defensive penalty box; the LCB will drop into the box; the RCB will drop into the box; and, the RB will drop into the box/defensive wing. Again, this is not a flat back four.

Pay close attention to the work rates of your players, because these are both the foundation for their range of movement based on their starting position and the foundation for your team’s overall shape in attack and defence.



Player instructions allow for creativity in attack and defence, and have the capacity to somewhat influence the impact of work rates. Rather than go through each individual set of instructions for each individual position, we will summarize how they interact with work rates through a series of examples.

– A H/H Striker, by nature, will push deep into the box in the attack and also drop deep into the defensive midfield, sometimes all the way to the defensive penalty box, when the team doesn’t have possession. Setting this Striker to ‘press the back line’ will cause him to delay dropping deep in defence and stay higher up the pitch, especially when the backline players have the ball. This instruction, however, does not prevent him from ever dropping deep in defence. If you want a Striker who will truly pin the opponent’s backline higher up the pitch throughout the match, your best option is H/L.

– A H/M Center Mid, by nature, will push deep in the attack while not defending much beyond the defensive midfield, occasionally dropping into the area just outside the defensive penalty box. Setting this Center Mid to ‘stay back while attacking’ will cause him to delay forward runs during an attack and stay in the midfield, but it won’t stop him entirely from pushing up into the attack. Setting him to ‘stay on the edge of the box for crosses’ will keep him outside the penalty box more often than not, but again, his high attacking work rate will cause him to make runs for crosses at times. If you want a Center Mid who truly stays in the midfield during the attack and on the edge of the box when the ball is on the wings, M/H or L/H are your better options.

– A M/M Center Back, by nature, will push to the midfield during the attack and drop to the edge of the defensive penalty box when the team doesn’t have the ball. Leaving him on ‘stay back while attacking’ will cause him to not push as far into the midfield as often, but he will still have the tendency to drift forward in the attack. If you want a Center Back that stays deep at all times during the attack, L/H or L/M are the best options.

Now, how can we be creative with our instructions? It’s a matter of comparing a player’s work rates with the functions you want him to perform in-game. For instance:

– A M/H CM. Setting the Center Mid to ‘stay back while attacking’ will largely keep him in the midfield during the attack. However, he will still push forward into the attacking midfield at times, depending on available/open space and his particular attributes/stats and custom tactics. Setting him to ‘stay back’ but also setting him to ‘free roam’ will encourage him to remain in the midfield but also swap positions with nearby players, especially when he does push forward. If this same Center Mid’s complementing CB is set to ‘join the attack’ we could have scenarios where they swap positions during the attack; this could either be a positive or a negative, depending on the CB’s attributes. For example, the CB switching to the CM spot could help to win the ball back higher up the pitch due to his better overall defensive stats, while the CM dropping into the CB role could potentially play a much better unexpected lobbed pass forward from the backline to an open player on the wing than the CB, due to his better overall passing stats.

One key final point to remember is that instructions are positional. This means that if players swap positions at any point, they will follow the instructions set for that role until they swap back to their original spot, which is important to know if you use free form in any of your custom tactics.



Custom tactics are the finishing touch. They encourage the team overall to behave certain ways and play with certain intents, within the context of work rates and instructions. Critically, they can also be directly contradictory to work rates and instructions, which can greatly hinder the resulting performance and fluidity of the team in-game. If you want know more about them click here.

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