Henry Confused

If you play 5-a-side regularly then you will be familiar with ‘the guy’* who turns your five-a-side match into a mathematical headache.

Don’t be ‘that guy’. You know who I mean. The guy who sends the morning message on to the weekly 5-a-side whatsapp chat saying ‘Not going to make it tonight team…’

*(For the sake of ease on this blog I’m saying ‘guy’ instead of using guy and girl. This is relevant for anyone who plays fives!)


If you’re that guy, or planning on being that guy then you are in for a shocker of a week.

‘We’ve only got 9….’

First off, regardless of the reason, you are going to take a fair bit of stick for the next 6 days. ‘Awww rhey can go to work with a broken ankle but they can’t play fives with their mates. Pathetic.’ Even if Stevie turns up with a full ‘legit’ Barcelona kit with Ronaldo 7 on the back he got from Bali, you can’t laugh buddy because if you do, Stevie is going to remind everyone of you leaving everyone with nine players to play five-a-sides.

Secondly, and most importantly, you need to find a player, pronto.

‘Surely someone knows someone…’

Chances are your first port of call is to ask one of your mates who you know won’t play, but you ask anyway. It’s a no.

Then you move on to a mate who’s absolutely murder but you need a player so you offer it out, even they wont play. The fear sets in.

So, you start looking at work mates and mates of mates which ultimately leads you to potentially have someone coming who used to train with West Ham when they were 16 – but you knock back that option because if they turn out to be shocking then you are taking the sarcasm every week for bringing them down.

‘Why don’t you get that guy back down who had West Ham trials…..they were quality….he megged you twice’

Running out of options you ask a random guy who’s playing fives with his mates on the pitch the game before yours. Another knock back.

Lastly, you throw it out there to the staff if anyone fancies a game. It’s a no.

So, you are left with 9 players. Cue the pre-match moaning.

‘There’s no point in playing the teams are going to be unfair’

‘Can’t believe he pulled out, he’s changed’

BUT! You will play, because it’s football with your mates!

So, here are your options with 9 players and some variations you can try to keep it competitive, the quality high and get some extra fitness.


a) 4 best players in one team, so it’s sort of even
b) If most players are ‘good’ then the mate who couldn’t control a bag of cement goes in the team of 5. Again, sort of even.
c) If all players are good then team with 5 have one touch finish or team of 4 can have anyone in goals at any time.
d) Keep score in games and sets. First team to 2 wins the game. Back to 0-0. 6 games = 1 set. Best of 3 sets.
e) Best until last. Don’t worry about teams, just play the game and get stuck in. With a bit of luck, you get a ringer in during the game to even things up.

3vs3 (no GK) – Round Robin

a) 3 minute games (2 minute rest between) – Brilliant if you want an effective way of improving fitness and keeping quality high.
b) Points for a win/draw or a goal = 1 point
c) Winner stays on – Strongly recommend the rest periods between games or quality vanishes!
d) Goal and off – instant rotation
e) 2 goals and off or 3 minute timed game.
f) Can only score in certain areas or a 1 touch finish
g) Every player must touch the ball before you score

4vs4 (+1)

a) Can play like a normal 5vs5 but the (+1) i.e. the joker/floater plays for the team in possession.
b) No goalkeepers
c) Many of the variations already mentioned can be used here.

4vs4 plus a ref

a) Just to stich someone up for a few minutes before playing your actual game.

Maybe these ideas sparked some ideas of your own. If so, stick a comment down and it will make everyone’s five-a-side experience far less stressful when you’re a man short! In the meantime book a pitch and see how many players you can get down!

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