Up and down the country 11-a-side football has returned but for many, football never stopped. Those who play 5-a-side get the benefit of playing year round which is just one of the many ways the 11-a-side game differs from small-sided football. With more people now choosing 5-a-side over 11-a-side, let’s take a look at the differentiators between the two.
5-a-side pitches are much smaller than 11-a-side pitches which means as a player, you’re going to be seeing a lot more of the ball than you would playing 11-a-side.
Is this always a benefit? Probably not if you’ve had a few too many beers the night before - left back is a great place to hide on an 11-a-side pitch (with the exception of when the other team start targeting your lack of fitness).
It’s in footballers’ DNA to want the ball at their feet though and the closest thing without hogging the ball you’re going to get to that is by playing 5-a-side.
Of course, the benefit of seeing more of the ball…
More touches doesn’t only mean more fun, it means more skill - just like most things in life, the key to improvement is repetition.
We often get comments about the dramatic improvements our customers saw in their 11-a-side game once they started playing 5-a-side regularly.
The frequency of passing, first time control and shooting in 5-a-side matches meant they were improving at a vastly quicker rate than they would’ve done had they stuck to playing just 11-a-side.
One of the key differences between 5-a-side and 11-a-side is when you play. 11-a-side is pretty much set in stone - Saturday afternoons or Sundays are almost non-negotiable.
This means that people frequently plan their days and weekends around football. With 5-a-side you have the option to fit football in to your schedule rather than the other way around.
At Gol we try to take customer convenience above and beyond other 5-a-side providers. Looking to play straight after work? Perhaps you need to get home, have food and put the kids to bed. Want to play 5-a-side as well as 11-a-side and need enough time to recover in time for the weekend?
With a vast variety of leagues ranging from 6:15PM kick offs to 9:15PM kick offs on weekdays and an evening league on Sundays we try to offer everyone the chance to play football regularly - when it suits them.
In the small confinements of a 5-a-side pitch, there is very little you can get away with without the referee noticing. As a private 5-a-side provider that means we can choose how to punish the very rare negative incidents that happen on the pitch.
We thoroughly believe that football is an inclusive sport and that is why we are unapologetic when we issue life bans to those rare incidents of discriminatory language.
Of course, the safety and well being of our customers is a huge priority with foul play, violent conduct and other physical harm resulting in bans from a minimum 4 weeks to a life ban depending on the severity.
The zero-tolerance policies we have adopted are perhaps something not seen in the 11-a-side game - even at the highest levels.
One of the most frustrating elements of 11-a-side is dealing with the elements, especially in Wales. We’ve all been victim to match cancellations but during particularly bad stretches of weather, you could find yourself going up to a month without a game.
How do we deal with this? Our 5-a-side league pitches are all-weather meaning that even during the worst rainy days you’ll get your football fix (people have even been known to play in the snow although we wouldn’t recommend it!)
Of course, games can be called off due to unforeseen circumstances but with a very proud game completion rate of 97% you will almost certainly get a game every week.
With more teams than any UK centre and division sizes ranging from 6-8 teams, teams often find that within a couple of seasons playing with us they find the sweet spot for them.
As teams become more experienced, they often find themselves competing at the highest level - we’ve recently had a team win Division 1 for the first time after 20 seasons with us.
If you’ve just joined a new 11-a-side team you may find that the competition is far too easy or far too hard but are unable to change this for a whole year.
In our leagues, promotions/relegations happen around every 3 months with teams sometimes skipping divisions depending on how easy/difficult their previous season was.
Whilst 5-a-side has been shown to be more physically and technically demanding than 11-a-side, as we age and our games slow down, the smaller pitches actually helps rather than hinders our ability to continue enjoying football.
In 5-a-side there’s no 60 yard lung-busting runs to be made before scoring, you’re just a couple of smart passes away from getting on the scoresheet.
We have many people playing well in to their 60s (and even early 70s) in our leagues with many more playing in pitch bookings - this is testament to the variability of how 5-a-side can be played and enjoyed.
OK, this might be a tad specific to Gol 5-a-side leagues but the point still stands. We always strive to push the bar when it comes to football innovation and with Action Replay technology we’ve further enhanced the social aspect of the game.
A lot of people play 11-a-side football to socialise with either their friends or new people and match day traditions such as getting food and having a drink with teammates after the game offer this.
The difference between our centre and 11-a-side is that our on-site bar has HD highlights of your game playing on a huge screen - so when your teammates are sat around the table talking about the screamer they scored - we’ll actually have the HD footage of said screamer*.
*definitely a tap-in
If you're considering joining one of our leagues, feel free to call us on 029 2037 5760 where our league coordinators will be delighted to help get you up and running. Alternatively you can fill in the form below and we will get back to you ASAP: