Leagues, Players

On this basis, from our huge depths of experience and knowledge, Leisure Leagues in the UK have provided the definitive guide to the perfect strategy to win a five-a-side game of soccer.

Five-a-side does two things:
  • Firstly, it equalises the quality of different teams over a period of time. A very poor team starting out may lose heavily to a very good team at the start of the season but, when they play each other at the end of the season the scoreline would be much closer.
  • Secondly, if five-a-side is played properly it neutralises the skill of better players, allowing lesser players an advantage they wouldn’t normally have playing 11-a-side.


There are two ways to win a match of five-a-side. The first way is the difficult way, because you need some very good players to carry it off. In essence it is a very fast pass and move game, if you like a concentrated version of the Dutch ‘total football’ game of the 1970’s. The key however, is to always keep the ball on the floor.

Before we move onto the secret winning formula, let us first of all concentrate on the role of the goalkeeper.

A good goalkeeper can make or break a successful 5-a-side team. But the most important thing a goalkeeper does is throw the ball out. The majority of goalkeepers throw the ball out without bending down far enough. This means that the ball bobbles when it reaches a player. The very best goalkeepers, some of whom are on display in the National Tournament each year bend their knees right to the level of the ground when they are rolling the ball out and ensure the roll of the ball is perfectly flat to the playing surface, making the ball as easy to control as possible for the player receiving. The more advanced goalkeepers do this at great speed and can throw the ball out good distances without interception. The very best, international 5-a-side keepers do this but add spin to the ball so the ball actually spins and curves, extremely quickly, dead along the ground after leaving the goalkeepers hand. Obtain a goalkeeper that can do this, or make your goalkeeper do this then you will have immediately a huge start. But what is the winning strategy that can ensure a lesser team defeats a much better team at 5-a-side?

The first key is ensuring the ball doesn’t leave the ground and is played at speed. In fact, anytime the ball bobbles or leaves the ground in 5-a-side is always a negative. So, let us assume we have five players. The defender is the key player. He must collect the ball in a central position and play the ball quickly along the ground at great speed centrally towards the opposition goal mouth. The very best keepers can replace the defender in this regard by a direct central pass at speed. So the player to choose for this position should not necessarily be a great defender but somebody that can kick a ball with power and accuracy in a straight line along the ground. The second player is the mid-fielder. He acts as the work horse and works around the defender (who is usually centrally positioned) and proceeds any way that is needed. In essence he is there to check the opponent’s progress. He should not be focused on the ball. The final two players should run from a position near the half way line diagonally towards the opposite corner at roughly the same time. This is where the timing and the skill of the defender’s pass is paramount.

The defender plays the ball centrally towards your position goal mouth and the two attackers run diagonally from each side of the half towards the opposite opposition goal mouth. Ideally, the ball should meet at the tip of the opponent’s final third, at the feet or in the path of one of the diagonally running attacking players. This is extremely difficult to defend, and extremely confusing to the opposition.

The very best exponents of this type of play vary the consistency of the diagonal runs (i.e. one player starts before the other to varying degrees) but the central ball from the defender rarely changes. Of course, if this style of play is used repetitively, the opposition will get used to it. But, there is an advantage. That is that the diagonality of the runs by the attackers can change angles, so they can be made shallower or deeper as is required.

If the run is made shallower (i.e. more towards the halfway line than the opposition goal) then the defending side are tempted to move forward. At that point the runs can be made deeper (more directly towards the goal) causing further confusion with the defending side.

Of course one of the attackers will always be running nowhere into a corner, but, if that player does not collect the ball then there is nothing to stop him creating a secondary diagonal run (depending on the shallowness of the run) towards the opposite corner to which he was running.

In essence, the ball remains directly headed towards the opposition goal whilst the players should always be running in a diagonal direction.

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