Those who know five-a-side will know that it is in many ways a totally different ball game than regular football. Sure, the mechanics and basics are the same, but in terms of being a success as part of a five-a-side team, there are so many huge differences between the two types of football. And while everyone has their own unique insights into what it is that makes the difference between a good five-a-side and a true legend, it’s a good idea to seek a few insights from an actual legend – one like Arsene Venger himself.
Having used 5 aside football in London as a training tool for so long, the world-famous coach has picked up more than a few tips and tricks on what makes the difference and how to take that next step forward. Of course, the most important tip of all will always be that of never expecting a five-a-side game to be anything like a standard game of football in terms of what’s involved – the technical side of things following a little later.
So for those already up and running with their own five-a-side teams and looking for a little expert advice, here’s a quick overview of the key points covered by the man himself:
First up, where you position the players in any five-a-side will make the biggest difference of all…a pretty obvious statement to say the least. The trouble here being that what appears to make sense logically often doesn’t pan out quite so well in the real world. For example, it’s natural to assume that the most aggressive players would be best-suited to forward positions to try and bang home as many goals as possible. In realty however, these are the kinds of ball-hungry and dominating types that do best in defence, while the quieter and more calculated players do better up front – think of the latter more as your snipers.
There aren’t nearly as many formations to choose from when it comes to five-a-side, which is why things often turn into something of a free for all with everyone doing a bit of everything. Needless to say this rarely yields a positive result, which is why it’s a much better idea – according to the boss man – to use a 1-2-1 formation in all five-a-side games. Wenger recommends having one striker, one defender and two offensive midfielders who take care of both defence and attacking. You simply cannot be your best if you don’t know your role and nor can you get to know and work with your teammates if you don’t know their respective positions, strengths and duties.
Get a Good Goalie
Most five-a-side teams in need of a goalie will settle for anyone with an interest in getting started and the willingness to stand in goal for the whole game. Or in other five-a-side teams there’s something of a rotation system used – both instances are however pretty bad ideas. The importance of the goalie in a five-a-side is both enormous and unique as they’re required to get stuck into things on a much higher and more active level than a standard soccer goalie. As such, you cannot expect your five-a-side team to get ahead unless you either pick up a great goalie or take on a goalie that’s committed to what they do and will learn the ropes as they go with real determination.
Be Ruthless, Be Quick
In terms of overall match tactics, Wenger insists that while strategy will always play a role in five-a-side, the teams that spend too much time thinking, passing and holding possession of the ball usually end up being the teams that lose. By contrast, those that are more impulsive and borderline ruthless come away with the most victories. On the whole, it’s a good idea to be thinking along the lines of passing no more than once or twice before having a crack at the goal. What’s more, you’re infinitely more likely to score by way of counterattack than you are in any planned attack at all, so it’s a good idea to treat times of opponent ball possession as the best scoring opportunities you have.
Last up, it’s of crucial importance to have as much fun as possible when playing five-a-side as it’s the kind of game where things can quickly go one way or the other and breed frustration and aggression. It’s common to go from 5-0 up to 12-5 down in no time at all which can naturally fray tempers and demotivate on a wholly unique level. As such, it’s important to remember that it’s all just fun and games in order to prevent things getting too heated…as they all too often do!