5 A Side Football Rules – Fully Explained

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The 5 a side football rules may be modified for your own use, and also can be used for 6-a-side and 7-a-side formats of the game. Although these are popular rules that are played around the UK, there are variations between different competitions, particularly around the ‘head height’ rule, and use of the ‘areas’.

Let’s keep reading to learn more!

5 a side football rules

What are the rules for five-a-side football?

The 5 a side football rules are essentially the same as they are for 11-a-side football in terms of what is permissible and what is not.

Of course, the main difference is that each team has just five players (or six each in the case of six-a-side) instead of 11.

Other than that, players are all subject to the same set of rules that apply in the normal-sized game – so, for example, no handballs for outfield players, foul play is penalized, and so on.

There are some rules which are unique to five-a-sides, such as the ‘head height’ rule, no slide tackling, and the goalkeeper’s area.

However, these rules can vary depending on the group or tournament you play with.

There are also variations when it comes to the type of equipment you should wear in five-a-side, which you can find out more about below.

What should you wear to 5 a side football rules?

The appropriate attire for five-a-side football is more or less the same as that used for a normal game of football. Players should wear a jersey, shorts, football socks, shin guards, and suitable footwear.

Of course, if the game you are playing in is casual then you may wish to wear tracksuit bottoms or footwear that is most comfortable, such as running shoes.


Depending on the surface the game is being played on, some footwear is advisable and, in some cases, certain boots are prohibited.

For example, if you are playing on an artificial surface such as an astroturf then metal studs and blades are not permitted. Astroturf shoes are available from most sports retail outlets.

Shin guards

It is generally advised that shin guards are worn by anyone who plays in a five-a-side football match. Indeed, some competition organizers will insist that players wear them, so you should check the competition rules.

However, given that many small-sided games are often played on a casual basis between friends or colleagues, it will come down to personal choice whether or not to wear them.

Goalkeeper’s area

According to the FA’s Small-Sided Football Laws of the Game handbook, the penalty area is described thus: “A semi-circle of 6m radius shall be drawn from the center of each goal line. The extremities of these semi-circles should reach the goal line, barrier, or wall regardless of whether or not the goalposts encroach onto the playing area.”

Depending on the rules observed by the tournament you are playing in, or the group that you play with, the goalkeeper may or may not be allowed to touch the ball outside of the penalty area. Conversely, some rules dictate that an outfield player is not allowed to touch the ball inside the goalkeeper’s penalty area.

Goalkeepers and outfield players can be deemed to have committed a foul if they touch the ball in a prohibited area of the pitch, with a free-kick or penalty being awarded.

How long does a five-a-side game last?

Five-a-side football games are shorter than a normal-sized football match, usually involving two halves of up to 25 minutes each with a five-minute interval at half-time.

As you can imagine, five-a-side football is ideal for building up fitness. But much of that will depend on how much and how hard you decided to run during any particular game.

What is the ‘head-height’ rule?

‘Head height’ is short-hand for a rule in small-sided football which demands that the ball be kept below a particular level – usually the height of the tallest player on the pitch.

A common marker, such as a bar on the barrier cage, can also be used as a general guide. A free-kick is awarded when the ball is played higher than the agreed height threshold.

The idea behind the ‘head-height’ rule is to discourage players from playing long passes through the air and to encourage the playing of the ball along the ground.

Many competitive small-sided tournaments do not use the ‘head-height’ rule as it is difficult to enforce.

Are you allowed to slide tackle in 5-a-side?

You are generally not allowed to slide tackle in 5 a side football rules and it is dangerous to do so, particularly if the surface is artificial.

Slide tackles, even if the ball has been fairly and safely won, are usually deemed fouls in small-sided football.

Discipline & fair play

Discipline and the concept of fair play in five a side football rules are more or less the same as it is in full-sized football.

Yellow cards result in a temporary suspension from the field of play – usually for five minutes. And it can be issued for things such as unsporting behavior, dissent, and persistent fouling.

Red cards result in expulsion from the field of play for the remainder of the game. A red card is usually issued for things such as violent conduct, deliberate denial of a goal through handball, abusive language, or a second yellow card.

What size should the 5-a-side pitch be?

The dimensions of the pitch for five-a-side and six-a-side football, per the FA’s Small Sided Football Laws of the Game handbook, should be:

  • Length: Min. 25 meters, max. 50 meters.
  • Width: Min. 16 meters, max. 35 meters.

For seven-a-side football, the pitch dimensions are bigger. They are:

  • Length: Min. 50 meters, max. 60 meters.
  • Width: Min. 30 meters, max 40 meters.

Pitches should always be rectangular in shape, with the touchline being longer than the goal line.

It is acceptable for small-sided football to be played on a pitch with or without barriers, such as a fence, wooden wall, or nets.

What size should five-a-side goals be?

Five-a-side goals should generally be 12 feet in length by four feet in height (12ft x 4ft) or, in some cases six feet by four feet (6ft x 4ft).

Some establishments prefer to use bigger goals in their facilities, with goals measuring 12ft x 6ft and 16ft x 6ft occasionally found.

To sum up

That’s all about “5 A Side Football Rules“. Hopefully, this article is useful and if you want to read more interesting information about football terms and rules, follow us right now!

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