10 Simple 5 a Side Tactics That You Should Know

5 a side football, on the face of it, seems simple enough and may fool people into thinking that tactics don’t play a part in the game. Unlike 11-a-side football, 5-a-side football is played on a smaller pitch, with a smaller goal.

5-a-side has different positions and tactics compared to the 11-a-side football that we generally watch.

But, the game requires a lot of thinking and devising of plans. As a team may lose many goals in a short span of time if their tactics aren’t spot on or if the team’s weakness is exposed.

Here are 10 simple 5 a side tactics that will make your team formidable:

1. Defend as a unit

Like 11-a-side football, defending as a unit is key in winning games. All four outfield players and the goalkeeper will have to defend when they don’t have the ball. With the striker pressing the opposition player who has the ball, followed by the other three players behind him.

The team has to defend as one, just like in basketball, and get to their positions as soon as they lose the ball to get the ball back and counter.

2. Be organised

This is given- being organised is key for attack or defence. Plan before the game the formation that you’re going to employ and stick to the formation.

This is the most common formation used by teams who are new to the concept of 5-a-side. This formation could get very predictable for your opponents.

You could use a 2:2 formation, where two players are in attack and two players in defence; or a 2:1:1 formation, where there are two defenders, one player contributing to attack and defence, and a lone striker, or a riskier 1:1:2 formation, where the team has one defender, one midfielder and two strikers.

[pullquote]Plan and decide which players will occupy which areas and practice accordingly.[/pullquote]

3. Pick a formation that suits the players in the team

Teams must pick a formation according to the type of players they have and what would suit them. Playing a defender in the striker’s position as you have too many defenders will probably not yield goals. Defenders in 5-a-side have to be aggressive, while attackers/strikers have to be calm and composed in front of goal, as well as know where the goal is.

2-1-1 can be the most effective formation while playing 5-a-side Football. The midfield is an essential element as they provide the link between defense and attack.

The best formation to start with is 2:1:1 as it ensures that the players cover all parts of the pitch.

4. Versatility and fluidity

While it is important that you have a striker who can score goals and a defender who can steal the ball away from the toes of the attackers, all four outfield players need to be versatile enough to attack as well as defend.

The team as a whole must attack and defend as a unit and hence will probably have to move into areas not designated to them. Players will also need to switch positions to confuse the opponents. Try something new without disturbing the shape of the team.

5. Attack through the middle

Attacking through the middle of the pitch is the best way to the goal. It is tougher to score from the flanks thanks to the smaller goal, and the goalkeeper covering the near post.

While attackers may find a lot of space wideout on the wings, they can’t do much. Their only option is to cross into the middle- an area which will most likely be crowded with the goalkeeper and the opposition defender.

Instead, the attacking team can make runs from the centre and take a shot on goal, with the opportunity of the ball rebounding to the striker.

6. Follow attacker’s runs as a defender

In 5-a-side football, the margins of error are very small; one small slip up and the attacker can get a shot on goal. While defending, it is essential that the defender follows the attacker’s runs, shadowing him as even the slightest opening will give the striker the opportunity to strike at goal.

Like 11-a-side football, the defender should try to push the striker away from goal and dispossess him when away from goal. Diving in for a tackle in and around the centre can be dangerous; if the attacker gets past the defender, he will most likely have a free shot on goal.

7. Stay goal-side while defending

The size of the goal in 5-a-side football is much smaller than that of 11-a-side football and goalkeepers in 5-a-side football always have the near post covered.

But it is imperative that the defender while defending a striker is goal-side of the attacker which will stop him from taking shots or making forward passes.

8. Quick, short passing is a key 5 a side tactic

Long balls in the air or along the ground aren’t the way to go in 5-a-side football.

To be a successful 5-a-side team, all five players, including the goalkeeper, have to be on the same wavelength while playing passes. Players have to make themselves available for passes, rotate the ball quickly, and keep moving the ball.

While dribbling with the ball can come into use while counter-attacking, quick passes are the way to go while building an attack.

As there isn’t a lot of space on the pitch, owing to the smaller size of the pitch, passes must be delivered to the feet of the player and have to be right; too much weight on the pass and it may not reach the teammate, while too little weight on the pass could be counter-attacked by the opposition.

9. Counterattack

Counter-attacking is the best way to get goals in 5-a-side football, like in basketball. This can be achieved by having quick players who can dribble to the other end of the pitch or be passing the ball quickly up the field.

Counter attacks are important while playing 5-a-side as once you lose the ball, the opponent may score a goal.

Teams can press high up the pitch as one unit. Attack the opponent’s goal, or wait deep in their own half and then attack quickly. Teams must be wary of being counter-attacked by the opposition. They must use the ball well and not give it away.

10. Don’t attack with all four players

Attacking with all four outfield players is a cardinal sin in 5-a-side football.

Even if you’re a goal down with a minute or two remaining, it is important that your team builds an attack from the back rather than throwing everyone forward.

While chasing the game, one player has to always stay back and play in the middle, stopping any possible counter-attack from the opposition.


While these are a few 5 a side tactics that will help you survive the game but understanding the game and building your own team tactics will always help you in the longer run.


Tags: Football
Nishant Jayaram

I follow football, Formula 1 and cricket pretty closely! It's more than a game!