Is 5-a-side easier than 11-a-side football?

The round ball game has evolved over the years, with a rise in alternative variations to the classic 11-a-side, such as 5-a-side football. But what makes each game unique?

Here, the two football formats will be discussed, including their upsides and downsides.

What makes them different?

Without thinking, the number of players is obviously the first difference. In 5-a-side football, there are 5 players playing against another 5 players. As for 11-sided games, you have 11 players on both sides trying to win the game.

The next difference is the pitch size. Stadiums and big fields host 11-man games, while 5-man games are played on small pitches or turfs, measuring approximately 36.5m x 27.5m. What makes 5-sided games enthralling is that no special arrangements are needed. Just get a ball, gather a few friends, book a pitch and start playing.

Another difference is the size of the goal. 11 side has a bigger goal size, but for 5-a-side, the goal size is smaller measuring about 3.60m x 1.20m (12’x4′). It is not easy for goalkeepers to stop a goal in 11-man games, yet attackers find it easy to score goals. Good finishing is needed to score goals regularly in 5-sided games. Keepers here can prevent goals even from top-notch shots, although there are exceptions.

Match intensity

Since the duration is shorter, 5-sided games seem to be more intense than 11-side games. Also, as there are fewer players, any small mistake can transfer ball possession to the opponents.

Players in 11-man games occupy specific positions following the football formation drawn up by the coach. Each player is composed and plays from their designated positions. Composure is also seen in 5-sided games, but positions are switched – an attacker can suddenly defend, and so on.


It is required that players in both football formats develop agility, stamina, and speed. No format requires less physical demand than the other. 

The reason is that you have to run up and down the football stadium or a 5-a-side football pitch as many times as possible. Being unfit will leave a player breathless in a short time.


We see more creativity in 5-a-side: solo goals, skills, and tactics. Each player is on their toes and from the beginning to the end of the game. They understand that any little mistake can put the ball at the back of the net.

On the flip side, 11-man games are tactical, more of teamwork than a solo performance. Yeah, there have been amazing skills and great solo goals, but players work together. Due to the size of pitches, players have to manage their stamina wisely, as running up and down isn’t easy.


Players determine how involved they get into the game. In a 5-a-side game, the players are actively involved and enjoy more ball possession. This is the fun part. 11-man games see players spending an average of at most five minutes with the ball.

It’s because of this involvement that legendary players believe the 5-a-side format is great for developing basic techniques mentally and physically. Following the small space 5-a-side pitches provide, players get proactive on the pitch, develop good reflexes, manoeuvres, and vision. A good display of this ability has been observed in professional players like Killian Mbappe and Neymar. 

In summary

Both formats are not easy. Your opinion may depend on personal choices and expectations. Are you thinking of becoming a professional? It’s mandatory you play the two formats. Is it just for fun? Play 5-a-side.

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