5-a-Side Football Rules – Everything You Need to Know

5-a-side football is a fantastic way to play a friendly game of football with your mates. If you’re getting into football, want to start again or just can’t get enough of it, 5-a-side games are a fantastic way to do this. Not only is it casual and friendly, you can practice your skills, get more exercise and enjoy some social time with friends or team mates. If you don’t have enough players for a full game, 5-a-side can solve that problem instantly and players can take in turns if there are one or two many of you. A lot of people create 5-a-side tournaments too, against a variety of other teams over the course of an afternoon. So, what are the rules and how is it different to a regular game of footy? We’ll explain the rules and get you up to speed with 5-a-side football.

What are the Rules of 5-a-side Football?

It is worth knowing that some rules may vary depending on division or leagues. But the rules are pretty simple. The referee will determine which team goes first by a coin toss, but you can always make arrangements within your teams.

Players should be inside their own half for kick-off. You can shoot and score straight from kick off too, if you’re feeling lucky. As with regular football, if a goal is scored, play with be restarted and the opposite team will kick off from the centre.

The goalkeepers can only roll out or pass the ball along the ground. When the ball is in play, there are no out of bounds lines, which means the game will continue smoothly with no stops this way. Pass backs are allowed, but if a player passes the ball back to the keeper if it has just been passed by the keeper, this could be seen as wasting time. If this happens, possession may switch to the opposite team who will get a free kick from the edge. The penalty area is semi-circular and only the goalkeeper is allowed to touch the ball within it. The goalkeeper is not allowed to leave their area and if they do a penalty kick may be awarded to the opposite team. If a penalty is awarded, this must be taken from the centre of the pitch, and the player is only allowed to take one step before kicking the ball. The only time the keeper is allowed to kick the ball is when they are making a save. All throws made by the keeper should be an underarm bowl.

Outfield players can’t enter either area. If an attacking player goes into the opponent’s area, the game will stop and restart with the keeper. Shooting must start and finish outside the area. Defending players should not enter their own area to gain an advantage. If this happens, then again, a penalty kick will go to the opposing team.

Yellow and red cards can be awarded for fouls. The yellow card usually results in the player sitting out for a short period of time, whereas a red card means the player will be sent off for the rest of the game.

Teams will receive 3 points for a win, 1 for a draw and zero for a loss.

How Long does a Game of 5-a-Side Football Last?

You are kind of free to decide how long to play for, but 5-a-side is always shorter than an 11-a-side game. The duration of the game is usually between ten and twenty minutes each way.

What about Substitutions?

You can roll your substitutions and all subs must wait outside of the pitch. Rotations are allowed throughout the game and the game will not stop for this. The player being subbed should be off the pitch before the new player comes on.

What Do you Need to Wear to Play 5-a-side Football?

If you don’t have bibs for each of the teams, why not arrange to wear the same colour t-shirt? If you want to go professional, you can always get shirts made especially, but for a casual game, this isn’t important. When playing on an indoor pitch, always wear shoes designed for this. Studs are a no-go and you will soon be told that you can’t go on the pitch if you are wearing them. Shin pads are always recommended. Even though five-a-side football is more casual, you can still get caught by a kick. Although studs aren’t allowed indoors, a kick to the shin can still be painful and cause injury.


5-a-side football is a fantastic way to get some exercise, get involved with a social activity and play a game of casual soccer without too many formalities. Of course, you can join a team or a league that is more professional if you would like to take it more seriously, but for a kick around with mates, 5-a-side is a great way to get your football fix. The rules are simple, the game runs smoothly with little stops and you play small intervals at a time. If you want to book in a game of 5-a-side football at our state-of-the-art indoor soccer dome, you can find out how to do this here.

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