5 Differences Between Regular and 5-a-side Football

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Regular (or association) football and 5-a-side football are both fun and exciting team sports that share many qualities with one another. Indeed, the fundamentals of the game are more or less identical, meaning if you understand one, you’ve already got a grip on the other.
While some people think of 5-a-side football as a micro-version of the regular game, that’s simply not the case. In this article, we’re going to look at six key differences between the games and how they are played:

We’re going to be referring to 5-a-side football in this article, but the differences we describe apply equally to 6-a-side and 7-a-side games, for which we also organise leagues.


Number of players

Okay, so this is the obvious one! Association football has 11 players on each team, while 5-a-side has only 5. What this means in terms of play is a shorter, more intense match, with each player taking on a larger role in the game… but more on that later.


Size of the playing area

With fewer players per team, it makes sense that the playing area is smaller. Association football is played on a pitch measuring 100-130 yards (90-120m) long by 50-100 yards (45-90m) wide. 5-a-side football is played on a court and, while these can also vary in size, they tend to be around 40 yards (36.5m) long by 30 yards (27.5m) wide. This makes for an easier, faster-paced area with a more squat design.


Playing surface

Association football is played on grass, while 5-a-side football is played on a hard surface. The material varies from venue to venue and, indeed, 5-a-side works just as well on a school playground or street as it does on a custom-built court. Modern courts tend to have wooden or hard rubber floors, though some dedicated venues are now using synthetic turf. These surfaces mean more bounce each time the ball strikes the floor, leading to more intense play.


Length of the match

While association football is played for 90 minutes (in two 45-minute halves), 5-a-side football can be anywhere from 10 to 50 minutes, again split into two equal halves. The length of the match is usually decided by the league organiser and can vary from match to match. In a one-day tournament, for instance, the earlier rounds might be ten-minute matches, lengthening to 30 minutes for the semi-final matches and the full 50 minutes for the final.


Intensity and Participation

While the other examples listed here are practical differences, these represent a difference in play. The smaller court, harder playing surface, and shorter playing time make for a faster, more intense playing experience than the 11-a-side game. You are not limited to a specific position (apart from the goalkeeper), so you have to be more of an all-rounder. The ball can bounce more erratically than it does on grass, requiring a certain amount of agility to react in time. You simply don’t get an opportunity to relax while your team-mates are up the other end of the pitch, like you sometimes can in association football. It’s intense, it’s exhausting, and that’s why we love it!
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Register your team

If you’re part of a 5-a-side football team and want to start making the most of your experience in the sport, consider joining one of the many Soccer Gods teams across the country. Register your interest today on our Contact page and one of our league managers will be in touch as soon as possible.