Five-a-side football is growing at an extraordinary rate in the UK. In fact, at an amateur level, these smaller games are beginning to overtake their regular 11-a-side alternatives. Five-a-side football is much easier to organise, and far easier to stage than a larger match, and that probably accounts for much of its success with budding amateur teams.
Make no mistake though: 5-a-side football isn’t a sport for unfit middle aged men with time on their hands: Many of UK’s top players have used 5-a-side matches either during football trials, or to hone their skills, and the competition is fierce, and the standard often very high.
Here’s some tips for aspiring five-a-side teams to hone their skills and begin winning matches:
Get Your Formations Correct
Five-a-side formations will demand a rethink if you’re used to larger matches. These smaller, often more intense games mean that every player will end up in every position at some point, but in essence, the best formations involve two defenders, a midfielder and a semi-midfielder/forward at the front. The strongest, fittest player should defend. This might come as a surprise, but the quick turnaround of Five-a-side football means teams can lose possession fast.
Use Techniques That Regular Soccer Games Don’t
Five-a-side’s confined spaces mean that defenders might find themselves playing the ball right up to the opponent’s goal. In addition, if the pitch is netted or caged, you’ll be able to bounce the ball off of the walls. This adds a completely new dynamic to the game, and the best way to win is often to pull opponent’s formations into disarray.
Keep in Control When Attacking
Tight ball control and shots that are close and carefully placed to the corners of the goal are most effective. Remember: The net is very wide but not very high, so powerful shots from the other end of the pitch will often be too high to score.
Make Attack Your First Defence
Without an attacker constantly trying for the ball, your defence will crumble, or at least get very frayed. Once past the attackers, a defender should be watching the opposing players the moment they cross the half way line. You won’t be able to use sliding tackles, so you’ll need to stay glued to your opponent. Efficient marking is the key to defence.
Tailor Drills For Five-a-Side
Jogging around a pitch isn’t much use for five a side. The pitch is small and attacks can be over in seconds. You’ll need perform lots of sprinting and interval training to hone your fitness, and work really hard on rapid changes of direction. UK Football Trials one of the UK’s football trial organisers agrees, saying: “Everything in five-a-side is tighter and more amped up, than regular football so you’ll need to be fit and fast.”
Avoid Common Injuries
A combination of cold winter nights, rapid sprints and harsh changes of direction mean five-a-side players can be prone to injury. Hamstrings and thighs will receive a real pounding, so make sure you’ve properly warmed up with some slow sprints and dynamic stretches.
Five-a-side football is fast, dynamic and growing in popularity in the UK. Why not get a team together and start using some of these tips to win matches?
By Harry Price
Harry Price is a personal trainer and freelance writer. He is an unashamed football fanatic. When he’s not at the gym or working, he is often found on the football pitch no matter what weather presents itself.