Fire up your 5-a-side

Stop that midweek kickabout becoming a bit lacklustre with five ways to make small-sided games fun and competitive again

Stick an outfield player in nets 

“If you only have one goalkeeper, get him to swap sides with a designated outfield player at half-time,” advises Saul Isaksson-Hurst, head coach of mypersonalfootballcoach.com. “This should make the team with the natural goalkeeper up their attacking intensity and the team without a shot-stopper 
defend with more intensity.”

More after the break

 

Even up the sides, Pt I 

Nobody wants a one-sided game with all the best players on the same team. But spare the less skilful players the indignity of picking the teams, school playground-style. “Designate a different player each week to pick even sides, making for a more competitive and productive game,” says Isaksson-Hurst, who has spent nine years working with Premier League academies.

 

Even up the sides, Pt II 

Uneven numbers can be a disaster in small-sided games. “Pick one ‘magic man’,” says Isakkson-Hurst. “He wears a bib and is always on the side of whoever is in possession. This is a great way to develop quick passing and mental sharpness – and you can rotate every 10 minutes so everybody has a turn.”

 

Ensure low numbers make for high intensity 

If you have a poor turnout, it’s time to ditch the goalkeepers and play ‘half a pitch to goal’. “It’s an exercise used at most pro clubs, using just one small goal,” explains Isaksson-Hurst. “The team in possession tries to pass or dribble to a team-mate in the other half, which is a ‘safe’ zone where you can’t be tackled. Then you turn and attack the goal. The other team then tries to do the same. It’s great for practising quick interplay in and around the box.”

 

Put the fun back into it  

“At any level, players need variety to keep them mentally and physically fresh,” says elite performance coach Tom Bates, who is currently working with Championship outfit Brentford. “If you sense a lack of motivation, ditch the five-a-side and do what Alex McLeish once did when I worked with him at Birmingham City – have a game of head tennis or footgolf. This gets everybody enjoying themselves once again, and it also helps to encourage competitiveness, skill and fitness.”

 

FABULOUS 5-A-SIDE FOOTWEAR

Nike MagistaX Proximo TF
Designed for comfort, control... and catching the eye. But this MagistaX isn’t style over substance. Designed after Nike consulted with small-sided players the world over, the sock-like stunner meets the various demands of non-grass pitches. RRP £88

Adidas ACE 16+ TKRZ

Another top-of-the-ranger big on touch and traction, the TKRZ also offers just the right amount of grip on artificial surfaces with its semi-studded sole, and control due to its compression tongue. Pink flashes suit the turf technician who doesn’t like to brag about it. Much. RRP £115
 

Puma evoSPEED Sala 3.4 Indoor

This combines value for money with a lightweight design, maximum grip and colour scheme so bright you could play in the dark. A synthetic leather upper and mesh inserts let your feet breathe. Ideal for sweat-inducing sports centres. RRP £27

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