Five-a-side is often a great way of getting into football. All over the country, social groups of friends and work colleagues get together to play and compete in various leagues with other teams. And even if you don't fancy the competitive side of a league, five-a-side still offers a great way of letting off steam and getting fit just by dedicating around an hour of your time.
Five-a-side football is a fast-paced variant of football in which teams field four outfield players and a goalkeeper. It is played on a smaller pitch with smaller goals, and games are reduced in length.
This shortened version of the beautiful game is not necessarily a soft option since the game is constantly moving and requires high levels of fitness and stamina if you’re going to be able to stay the pace. That said, five-a-side is an extremely social sport, and there's plenty of opportunities to play it informally, perhaps as a weekly kick about with friends, to ensure that you not only have fun but also enjoy a good workout.
Five-a-side football differs from the eleven-a-side version of the game in the number of ways including:
- The ball is not allowed to go over head height.
- Players are not allowed in the penalty area/the goalkeeper is not allowed out of the penalty area.
- There is no offside rule.
These rules are often waived in informal games played between friends, but in competitive leagues the norm is for these rules to be enforced.
The main advantage of five-a-side football is that it can be played both indoors and outdoors. This gives you the opportunity to play football all year round, and it's rare for games to be called off except in the harshest of winter conditions.
Five-a-side football provides excellent social interaction between friends and work colleagues, and with the right amount of numbers, can be easily arranged. Most local recreation centres will offer both indoor and outdoor pitches and tend to charge by the hour for the use of the pitch with or without ball hire.
Outside pitches are often either gravel pitches (these are becoming rarer) or more likely ‘all-weather' or 'astroturf' pitches which are generally available all year round. Both pitches require players to have good ball control since the bounce of the ball will usually be higher on the hard ground as compared to when playing on grass. These pitches also require players to play in trainers rather than studded boots.
Five-a-side football is often also played on indoor pitches. These are normally played on the hard wooden floors that can be found in most gym halls. A specialist ball is used for indoor games which is lighter. A main advantage of indoor pitches is that the players are protected from the weather and they can play the ball off the walls!
Five-a-side, on the whole is generally less competitive than the traditional eleven-a-side game and is a great way of getting into playing football, either for the first time, or if you're getting back to playing after a long break.
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