5aside Football Formations

Tactics are an essential part of your match strategy, and as you will know, a large element of tactics at a professional level is the formation in which a team lines up.  However, how important is it for a five-a-side football team to adopt any form of formation? fiveasidefootballcoach.com looks at how you can adopt a formation for your five-a-side team and the benefits that this level of organisation can bring.

For the full 11-a-side game, there are a whole range of formations that any team can adopt – from the once-popular English favourite 4-4-2, the Christmas Tree or the modern 4-3-3 / 4-5-1 hybrid.  But despite having significantly less players at your disposal in five-a-side football, you do have options.  There are three key positions in fives – the goalkeeper, the defender and the attacker.  Taking these three key roles, you can then adapt them to form the following range of both attacking and defensive strategies.

Defensive Formations

2-1-1 (The Counter)

I will start things off with what I believe to be the most effective strategy.  The 2-1-1 consists of 2 defenders, 1 midfielder and 1 attacker.  It is a more defensive line-up given the 2 defensive roles and as such will yield fewer goals, but it is highly effective against stronger teams, especially when utilised with a counter-attacking style.  In addition to the need for a good strong defender (or two) and a powerful and effective attacker, the key to the success of this strategy is the midfield position.  The floating midfield role is vital in providing that link-up between defence and attack, picking up the opposition’s third man in defence and providing support to the attacker on the counter-attack.  Put your fastest and most fit player in this position.

5-a-side Formations 2-1-1

3-0-1 (The Wall)

This one is an ultra-defensive strategy and, as such, I would recommend adopting during periods of a match, rather than as the team’s default set-up.  With the 3 defenders and a single attacker, you are not going to score a lot of goals, but this formation can be effective when trying to protect a lead (or prevent a hammering if you are playing a much stronger team!).  Your single attacker is going to have to play on the counter and be willing to take on attacking duties on their own, so they will need to have a lot of patience.

5-a-side Formations 3-0-1

Neutral Formations

2-0-2 (The Square)

This strategy is useful for relatively inexperienced teams that have played few games together.  It provides a simple balance to the team, with 2 defending and 2 attacking roles, and ensures that there is always support in both attack and defence (most teams tend to both attack and defend in 3’s).  The downside to playing in this way is that you will be very easy to read for the opposition and if played too rigidly you will become very predictable. The key to making this work is to try to keep things flexible and be clear who will support in both attacking and defending phases of play.

5-a-side Formations 2-0-2

1-2-1 (The Diamond)

This is an ideal formation for experienced teams who are good in possession.  With the single defender, 2 midfielders and striker, roles are clearly defined and the team is well balanced.  The key to implementing this effectively is to ensure that your two midfield roles are filled by fast and fit players who can respond quickly to changes in play – it can be very effective if you have a number of good midfield subs that you can call upon to keep things fresh in the middle of the pitch.  The one downside to this strategy is that your midfielders are at risk of getting caught out of position and isolating your defender.

5-a-side Formations 1-2-1

Attacking Formations

1-1-2 (The ‘Y’)

The ‘Y’ formation is a very aggressive system and should be implemented against weaker opponents to maximise your goal-scoring opportunities.  It is best implemented with a pressured style, where you apply sustained pressure to your opponents in defensive phases of play to win the ball back as quickly and as high up the pitch as possible (just like Barcelona!).  Again, the midfield position is key as it is your midfielder’s responsibility to support your defender when your opposition is in possession of the ball.  The obvious weakness to this system is when your defender is not provided sufficient support and becomes isolated.

5 a side Formations 1-1-2

1-0-3 (The Hail-Mary!)

This one isn’t for the faint-hearted – it’s going to be a high-scoring match!  Unless you can outscore your opponents it is probably not wise to go with this one for long periods of a match and should be used only when chasing a game in the final moments of a do or die scenario.  Good luck with this one!

5-a-side Formations 1-0-3

When choosing the formation to implement with your team, you need to take into account the levels of experience, ability and fitness of your players.  It is important to remember that these strategies should be a guide only and should be implemented loosely upon your team.  Five-a-side football is a fast game and players should, in theory, be able to cover all positions on the pitch, but the team that is the most organised is usually the team that ends up winning.