What's the Difference Between 11 v 11 and 5-a-side Soccer?

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What's the difference between 11 v 11 and 5-a-side soccer? Soccer is soccer, right? Not so fast - in this article, we will look closer at the differences between 5-a-side soccer and 11 v 11 soccer. Soccer is the world’s most popular sport. The skills obtained in many different formats are crucial to the development of a player's ability. The increased participation of these different game formats is a massive factor in the rise in the game’s overall popularity. So what’s the difference?

Breaking down the basic differences

There are a few main differences between the two formats. The first and most obvious contrast between the two formats is the number of players per side. 11 v 11 sends 11 total players per side, traditionally ten and a goalkeeper for a total of 11. All of the major professional leagues around the world such as the Premier League, La Liga, and the Bundesliga play an 11 v 11 format. However, there are many 5-a-side professional leagues. 5-a-side soccer tells all in the name with 5 players on the pitch for each team.

The next clear differentiation is the size of the pitch, or field. More players mean you need more space, and the opposite is also true. For traditional matches, 11 v 11 football is played on a 100 by 130-yard pitch, while the standard 5-a-side pitch is significantly smaller at 40 by 30 yards.

Goal size also changes between the two formats. 11 v 11 senior goals measure 24 x 8 foot and 5-a-side goals are sized slightly smaller at 16 x 4 foot. Junior soccer goals are reduced in size for both formats, with 11 v 11 goals measuring 21 x 7 feet and the 5-a-side game being played with a goal of 12 x 4 feet.

The length of the match during a standard game of 11-a-side soccer lasts 90 minutes, which is split into two halves of 45 minutes, plus any injury time. In comparison, 5-a-side is a shorter game, typically lasting only 40-60 minutes.

One bonus benefit of a smaller pitch in the 5-a-side format is the ability to continue playing at an older age. As we age our game slows down, and unlike in 11 v 11 there are no extremely strenuous 60-yard sprints in 5-a-side soccer.

In-Game Differences

There are also some key differences during the game. For starters, fewer players on the pitch and less pitch to maneuver in means more touches for each player. More touches usually equals more fun for everyone! Additionally, more touches doesn’t only mean more fun, the frequency and repetition usually translates to more skill.

Do you need different skills for each format?

Given the differences between the two formats, there’s no surprise that slightly different skill sets are needed to excel in each. Unsurprisingly, these skills often overlap and all are needed in both formats of the game.

5-A-Side Skills

Reaction time: A fast-paced format, 5-a-side games require players to be able to respond quickly to changes around them as they navigate the pitch. A player’s ‘vision’ and decision-making ability can improve with the speed of the 5-a-side game.

Solo ball control: The shorter pitch and fewer players truly allow solo plays to shine. Most games aren’t played in strict formations so 5-a-side players constantly switch from position to position, moving the ball solo if the chance arises.

11-A-Side Skills

Long passes and more team strategy: While 5-a-side soccer’s smaller pitch emphasizes solo strategies, the larger pitch of 11-a-side makes long passes and teamwork essential skills.

How do they work together?

Many of the world’s greatest players attribute the skills obtained in 5-a-side style for their dominance in the professional 11 v 11 competition. Because of the fast-paced nature and necessity for decisiveness in confined space, 5-a-side skillsets transfer well to the 11 v 11 larger-sized pitch. 5-a-side players execute in tight areas with great vision and ball control on the larger pitch.

Should I play 5-a-side soccer?

Soccer is known as “The Beautiful Game”, and that is true in all its formats. However on any given day, if you feel like a more fast-paced, frenetic, (potentially) high scoring style, 5-a-side may be the format for you. 5-a-side soccer is extremely valuable to your skillset as a complete player. Also, it offers a fun, competitive environment while contributing to your health and fitness!

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