5-a-Side women’s football, and participation in women’s football in general, has seen a tremendous surge in recent years thanks to the Lionesses successes in both the Euros and the World Cup, generating more funding, access and exposure of women’s football in the community.


With more women joining social football leagues for recreational play, Play 5-a-side are exploring the benefits of the two typical formats of football; 5-a-side and 11-a-side football, and why joining a 5-a-side league is a popular choice for women wanting to get back into football, or try it for the very first time


Team Size

5-a-Side: This format involves 5 players per team, creating an intimate and tight-knit group. With fewer players on the field, everyone gets more involved in the action during the game.

11-a-Side: In contrast, the traditional format features 11 players on each side, making it harder for everyone to actively participate in every play. Players might spend more time in their areas waiting for the ball to be played to them.

Physical Demands

5-a-Side: The smaller pitch, shorter game time and fewer players translate to a more fast-paced, demanding but enjoyable game. It’s a great way to improve fitness, agility and ball control with more opportunity to touch the ball and develop your skills.

11-a-Side: The larger pitch, longer game time and team size allow for more strategic and less physically demanding play on each player. This format can be more suitable for those looking for a less intense experience due to set positions and player responsibilities.

Skill Development

5-a-Side: With a smaller pitch and less players, there will be a higher amount of involvement required on the players for the success of their team. Players tend to develop their skills more rapidly due to having more possession than 11-a-side games, and will give you a chance to improve your dribbling, passing and shooting skills. Even with set positions, 5-a-side players will cover the entire pitch, and will be constantly at both ends defending and attacking as a team.

11-a-Side: While 11-a-side football may provide more opportunity to work on tactical skills and positioning, it may not offer the same individual skill development as 5-a-side as players will be required to stay in their positions as either defenders, mid-fielders or strikers during each game.

Team Dynamics

5-a-Side: Smaller teams require better communication and cooperation between their players. This format will often foster stronger team bonds and camaraderie.

11-a-Side: With more players, strong team dynamics can be harder to develop, and it may take longer to form close relationships within the squad.

Playing as a Team

5-a-Side: Finding a team, or joining an existing team is easier as it requires fewer players. We find that for 5-a-side teams, it is easier for a group of women to join as a group of friends, or if Play 5-a-side are creating a team from individuals, it is easier to fill a team of 5 likeminded players. It also easier for team captains to organise fewer people in their team and more likelihood of finding players if there is a player short.

11-a-Side: Organising a team of 11 players is a lot harder for a team captain with more personality dynamics to consider, and will have more pressure placed on the team each week to confirm players in positions if there is a lack of availability.

Play 5-a-Side!

5-a-side is an increasingly popular choice for women seeking an enjoyable, inclusive and energetic sport. The smaller team sizes encourages active participation and fosters a strong team bond and close friendships, whilst encouraging faster skill development. The physical demands of 5-a-side football provide an excellent opportunity for women to stay fit and improve their skills in an encouraging and welcoming social setting. Our Play 5-a-side football leagues offer women an inclusive, physical engaging and skill-enhancing experience, bringing women close to the beautiful game and promoting teamwork, fitness and fun on the pitch. If you are looking to play football socially, Play 5-a-side is the way to go – a choice that allows you to embrace the joy and camaraderie that football brings.

Sign up to Play 5-A-Side today by either searching for your nearest league or emailing us at info@play-5-a-side.co.uk 

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