Tuchel's youth club was TSV Krumbach. In 1988, he moved to nearby FC Augsburg (then fourth-tier Bayernliga). He then got the opportunity to play in the 2. Bundesliga for Württemberg side Stuttgarter Kickers from 1992. He played in only eight matches in 1992–93, and, after an even more disappointing 1993–94 season, when he was dropped from Kickers first team, he joined Regionalliga Süd, i.e. third-tier side SSV Ulm, where he played in 69 matches for the Swabian side in four years before ending his active career due to a chronic cartilage injury in 1998.
Tuchel began his coaching career in 2000 as head coach of the Under 19 of VfB Stuttgart. After five years he returned to his former club FC Augsburg, where he worked as youth team co-ordinator for three years. He was named as the new head coach of 1. FSV Mainz 05 on 3 August 2009, after the club was promoted to the Bundesliga. He signed a two-year contract after being promoted to that position from the FSV Mainz 05 Under 19 side. In the 2010–11 season, Tuchel coached FSV Mainz 05 to seven wins in their first seven games, including an away victory over Bundesliga's powerhouse FC Bayern Munich. The team finished fifth in the rankings.