6 Killer Formations In 5 a-side Football | Playo

Love watching or playing football? We have for you some essential tactics to get ahead in the game by learning these 5 a-side football formations.

Football formations have been a critical part of the match strategy. Many games in an 11-a-side game have been influenced by the classic 4-4-2 formation and modern versions such as 4-5-1 / 4-3-3 or “The Bus”. However, how important are formations in 5 aside football? Five a side is about skill, speed, strategy, and tactics. Hence, formations play a key role and could play a major role in changing the game’s outcome.

Teams unintentionally adopt the ‘Total Football’ style, where players shuffle positions and play in all positions at some point in the match. This tends to happen due to the size of the pitch and the number of players on the ground. A team that ‘unintentionally’ adopts this gameplay is easy pickings for any team that has done pre-game planning.

The three major positions in a fives game are the goalkeeper, the sweeper, and the striker. Considering the importance of these positions, you can look at forming the following attacking or defensive formations-

Formations in 5 a-side football

  1. The Square (2-0-2)

The most common formation used in 5-a-side football. Because it’s obvious, and most inexperienced teams tend to use this. It provides a balanced attack and defense. Both are supported by 2 players. This formation could really work if things are flexible but also with the clarity of who will support both attacking and defending roles during the play.

As the name suggests, this formation includes 2 defenders and 2 forwards who have clearly defined roles of defense and attack. 

One of the best football formations, this is an excellent choice when you are just starting with a team of players with varied experience levels. However, in this 5v5 soccer formation, while 2 players each are required to stay back and push forward respectively, this formation requires some flexibility in terms of attackers supporting the defenders and vice versa. 


·      Involves everyone in the play irrespective of their experience.

·      Balanced and kept the player’s roles simple. 

·      Flexible approach.


·      Predictable and easy to read by the opponents. 

·      Roles may get mixed up due to lack of communication and the player’s inexperience. 

·      Can weaken the game if the defenders and attackers are all inexperienced players. 

  1. The Wall (3-0-1)

Playing against a strong team or you are one up in the game and don’t want to get too greedy? Use THE WALL. The Wall as the name suggests is a super defensive strategy which should be adopted for a certain period in the game, rather than the team’s default formation. This 5 a side formation involves creating a wall of sorts with 3 defenders and 1 striker in preventive positions. 

In this five aside football formation, the defenders try to stop the incoming goals while passing on the ball to the striker to attempt counter goals. 


·      Gives your team an excellent defense. 

·      Quicker players in a Wall formation can deliver outstanding counterattacks.


·      May not result in too many goals.

·      If the attackers are unwilling to think independently, it may weaken the game.

·      This formation cannot be a team’s default position. 

3. The Diamond (1-2-1)

You think you have the perfect team with the right people for the right job, then this formation is something you should adopt. The key to this formation is the mid-fielders who need to be fast on their feet, literally and figuratively. They are going to be doing most of the running, so make sure to have a couple of equally good subs on the bench.

Known as the best 5 a side football formation particularly for their flexibility, the diamond allows balancing the defense and the attack extremely well. This balance is maintained while having two midfielders linking both their games. This formation is especially used when a team has a lot of substitutes to keep refreshing their midfield positions. 


·      The best football formation when the opposing team is of similar capability. 

·      This formation allows your team to utilise the rival team’s weaknesses and score goals.

·      Allows players to assume responsibility while being disciplined. 

·      This football formation is extremely adaptable and flexible. 


.    It doesn’t work well when players focus too much on attack and ignore the defense positions leaving it open for the opposition to exploit.

·      This 5v5 soccer formation may fall flat if the defender is unskilled or inexperienced.

4. The Y (1-1-2)

Do you see the opposing team using the “THE WALL”? Shift to the “Y”, which is a very attacking formation. The key idea of this formation is to get possession of the ball as high up on the pitch as possible and try to maximise that. The Y is one of the most offensive 5 aside football formations that are known for creating a lot of pressure on the defense of the opposing side. This 5 a side formation has one player behind the two at the front to cover more space. It also allows for the players to block the passing lanes. The midfielder, however, will be required to play a supporting role with the defence when your opposition has the ball.

This attacking position often ensures that your team scores many goals, especially when played against a weaker team. 


·      An excellent five aside football formation, which helps in scoring goals.

·      The defender’s position is usually free of confusion since this 5 a side formation has one player as the ‘last man’ at the back.

·      Extremely useful while playing a high-pressing game. 


·      The players must be experienced in this formation to utilise their strengths fully. 

·      This football formation may expose the entire line of defense if the attacking players are not committed to playing a pressing game. 

·      This formation must be practised for a long to help you score goals. 

5. The Counter (2-1-1)

We believe this to be the most effective formation.  Also known as the ‘Pyramid’, this formation includes 2 defenders, 1 striker, and 1 midfielder. Amongst the most defensive five aside football formations, this only aims to score goals from the opposing side. 

Put your fastest and most fit player in this position. In addition to the need for a good, strong defender (or two), a powerful and effective attacker must convert the oddballs.

The next best football formation is the ‘counter’. 

There is also a floating midfielder who offers the very critical link between the attack and the defense. 


·      One of the few 5v5 soccer formations which frees up the pivot, who is the outright striker, to allow him to concentrate on attacking. 

·      This formation utilises the defence better without exposing it from behind. 

·      The defenders get better support from the midfielders than most other 5 aside football formations.


·      The midfielder needs top-notch stamina to continue supporting both the attack and defense throughout the game. 

·      The defenders must also be experienced without relying on the midfielder to do all the attacking. 

6. The Hail Mary (1-0-3)

Also known as the ‘All or nothing’ football formation, the Hail Mary is among the most intense and exciting formations in a 5 a side football game. In this formation, 1 defender and 3 attackers are involved in an extremely structured play. 

This is the best football formation when your team is more experienced than the opposition. Another situation where this formation is important is when your team hasn’t been able to score till almost the end of the game and is willing to take a risk. 

In this formation, the players on the right and left side of the football pitch should assist the defender in case of an attack by the opposition. Since this five aside football formation needs constant attacking, defending, and pressure tactics, you need the toughest and the most versatile players as your attackers. 


·      If strategised well, this is one of the top 5 a side formations to help you get goals even if you are late into the game. 

·      This is a perfect formation to utilise your team’s experience and turn the game in your favour.


·      This is one of those few football formations in which the defender may be left exposed.

·      This formation is not intended to be utilised for the entire game duration. It is more suitable in a ‘do or die’ situation.

 Formations in 5 a-side football are not just about what looks pretty or we should do this because they did that… it’s more than that. Talk to your team and learn the strong and weak points. Figure out what responsibilities each is capable of.

When choosing the formation to implement with your team, you need to consider your players’ levels of experience, ability and fitness. Have room for some flexibility. Five-a-side football is a fast game; players should, in theory, be able to cover all positions on the pitch. But the team that is the most organised is usually the team that ends up winning.  

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Daanish Suhail