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Four ways to get 5-a-side fit

Explosiveness is a vital attribute in small-sided games, where space is limited and interaction with the game is increased. Being able to move quickly over 5-10 yards, and create space for a team mate is crucial for retention of possession, but also for creating chances on goal. Moving powerfully and efficiently over a short distance, requires a solid platform to be able to express power. Therefore, strength and power characteristics are needed to be able to leave an opponent for dust. Below are a few exercises to help improve speed over 5-10 yards;

  • Trap Bar Deadlift
  • Split Squat
  • Broad Jump
  • Single Leg Box Jump

Having a strong base of endurance is essential for both 11 and 5 -a-side. However, a smaller sided game will typically involve more accelerations and decelerations within a shorter space of time. Being able to mark an opponent, or create space for a team mate is a vital part of the game at any level. The ability to be able to move, and then recover efficiently during a game situation can often be the difference between conceding and scoring a goal. The high intensity nature of the smaller sided game, therefore, requires specific energy system qualities to allow a player to complete multiple changes of direction in a short space of time, and recover without having a detrimental effect on performance. Below are a couple of sessions to help to improve stamina;

High intensity interval running;

  • 15 x 10 sec bursts @ 90-100% effort / rest for 30-40 secs
  • 4 x 4 minutes @ 75% effort / rest for 3 mins between each four-minute run

Improving your strength will help you to avoid injury, boost your speed and agility, win 50/50 challenges, and also hold players off when attempting to retain possession. A combination of upper and lower body strength will really help to improve these areas of your game and also help with reducing the likelihood of picking up an injury. Below is a session to help improve upper and lower body strength;

  1. Back Squat 5 x 5
  2. B) Overhead Press 4 x 5

C1) Lateral Squat 3 x 6 each leg

C2) Half Kneeling Dumbbell Press 3 x 10 each side

D1) Half Kneeling Pallof Press 3 x 10 each side

D2) Suitcase Carry 3 x 20m each way

A study by FIFA compared 11-a-side to small-sided versions of the game and found that in 4-a-side football players have five times more touches of the ball than in 11-a-side matches, whilst 7-a-side produces twice as many touches than in 11-a-side. The smaller sided game requires more interaction (touches, movement etc), and hones in on the core components of the game, namely; passing, dribbling, shooting and possession. As a result, it requires many, short, sharp changes of direction in a short space of time. Being able to change direction efficiently can help you to beat an opponent as well as creating space for a team mate. Below are a few drills to help sharpen a players ability to change direction;

  • T Drill – Set out four cones as illustrated in the diagram below

  • Step 1 –  Start at cone A – on the command of the timer, sprint out to cone B and touch the base of the cone with your right hand.

    Step2 – Turn left and shuffle sideways to cone C, touch the base with your left hand, and then shuffle sideways to the right to cone D, touching the base with your right hand.

    Step 3 – Shuffle back to cone B touching with the left hand, and then run backwards to cone A. The stopwatch is stopped as you pass cone A.


    • X Drill – set out four cones as illustrated in the diagram below

    • Step 1 – Start at cone 1 – on the command of the timer, work diagonally work across to cone 2.

      Step 2 – From there, move across to cone 3 and then diagonally to cone 4.

      Step 3 – Head back across to cone 1. The stopwatch is stopped as you pass cone 1.

      Sam Pepys
      Written By

      Sam Pepys