Ultimate Guide to 6-A-Side Football: Tips & Tricks For Success

Ultimate Guide to 6-A-Side Football: Tips & Tricks For Success

Let's delve in to our ultimate guide on the small-sided game of 6-a-side football, hopefully you'll pick up some useful tips and tricks along the way!

The Basics of 6-A-Side Football

Similarly to 5-a-side, 6-a-side football is a dynamic and fast-paced version of the traditional 11-a-side game. The smaller team size means every player must be versatile and ready to take on multiple roles during the match. This, combined with the smaller pitch, means quick thinking and constant movement are essential if you want to succeed. Understanding these basics will set the foundation for enhancing your overall game and give you a better chance of beating your opponents. Let’s dive into these foundations in more detail and take a look at some useful tips to help improve your game.

The Importance of a Strong Formation

A solid formation is the backbone of any successful 6-a-side football team. It lays the foundation for effective coordination and maximises the strengths of individual players. Without a strong formation, even the most skilled players can find themselves struggling to make an impact. 

One important tip would be to adapt your formation based on your team’s strengths and the opponent’s strategy. If your team excels in attacking, a more forward-heavy formation could provide an edge. Alternatively, if your defensive skills are superior, consider a more balanced setup to thwart opposition attacks. 

Common formations in 6-a-side football include: 

  • 2-2-1: Offers a solid defensive base while maintaining control in the midfield.
  • 1-2-2: Places a significant emphasis on attacking play.
  • 3-1-1: Focuses on a robust defence, best for teams facing strong attacking opponents.
  • 2-1-2: Balances defence and attack, suitable for teams versatile in both.
  • 1-3-1: Provides strong midfield presence, ideal for controlling the tempo of the game.
2-2-1 6-a-side formation
The commonly used 2-2-1 formation

Finding the right formation is key to maximising your team’s performance, take a look at our article on the best 6-a-side football formations to delve into these in more detail and find the best formation for your players.

The Importance of Positioning and Versatility

As we’ve just touched on, when you step onto the pitch for a game of 6-a-side football, positioning and versatility can make all the difference. Understanding these two elements can transform you from an average player into a game-changer. 

Good positioning isn’t just about being in the right place at the right time; it’s about anticipating the play and acting proactively. In a smaller field, the game’s pace quickens, and space becomes a premium. By mastering your position, you give your team a strategic edge, ensuring efficient ball movement and maintaining the structure. 

Unfortunately, staying in one position for the duration of the match isn’t necessarily enough in the small-sided game. In 6-a-side football, the dynamics of the game are changing rapidly. Injuries, tactical swaps, or even the flow of the game can necessitate role changes. A versatile player can seamlessly transition between attacking and defensive roles, providing stability and enhancing team performance. 

In essence, mastering positioning and versatility in 6-a-side football will not only elevate your game but also make you an invaluable asset to your team. So next time you hit the field, keep these principles in mind and watch your performance soar.

Attacking Tactics 

When it comes to 6-a-side football, outsmarting your opponent is a blend of strategy, skill, and creative play. To give your team the upper edge, let’s break down the most effective attacking tactics you should master. 

Utilise Quick Passes 

Quick, precise passing can disorient the opposition and create openings. Aim to move the ball swiftly between teammates, reducing the time opponents have to organise their defence. Try incorporating one-touch passes to maintain speed and create surprise attacks. 

Exploit Width and Depth 

Use the full area of the pitch to stretch the opposing team. By exploiting the width, you can drag defenders out of position and create space in the centre. Meanwhile, play deep to draw defenders out of their zones, making space behind them for forwards to exploit with well-timed runs. 

Encourage your wing players to make overlapping runs. This move can confuse defenders, forcing a decision on whether to cover the runner or stay with the ball carrier. When efficiently executed, this tactic can lead to clear opportunities for crosses or shots on goal. 

Diagonal passes can disrupt defensive lines, offering sudden attacking opportunities. When executed properly, they open angles for your forwards and can bypass midfield congestion. It’s a strategic way to keep your opponents guessing and create unexpected attacks. 

Utilising width in 6-a-side football.
Utilising width in 6-a-side football

Communication is Key 

Ensure constant communication amongst teammates. Shouting for the ball, indicating runs, and alerting others to marking opponents can significantly impact the effectiveness of your attacks. A well-coordinated team is much harder to defend against. 

Defensive Strategies

In 6-a-side football, a solid defence is crucial. It doesn’t just prevent goals but it’s also the foundation for launching effective counter-attacks. Winning isn’t just about scoring; it’s also about denying your opponent those goal-scoring opportunities. Below, we delve into strategies that will tighten your defence and turn you into an impenetrable fortress. 

High Pressing Game 

One effective strategy, which we also see in the traditional 11-a-side game, is high pressing. This involves pushing your players up the field to pressure the opposing team into making mistakes. The key is coordination and understanding. Everyone needs to know when to press and when to fall back. A well-timed press can force a turnover in a dangerous area, setting the stage for a quick goal. 

Pressing is not just about running towards the ball. Organised pressing lines ensure that your team moves as a unit. By creating “pressing traps” where opponents are forced into tight spaces, you can regain possession efficiently. Communication and practice are essential to mastering this strategy. 

Assign specific pressing roles to each player. The forwards press the defenders, the midfielders press the passing lanes, and the defenders cover gaps. Knowing your role within the pressing system can make this complex tactic effective and less exhausting. 


The debate between man-marking and zonal marking has been a heavily discussed topic in recent years. However, we’ve found the best defensive teams in 6-a-side football are those that use the man-marking system. Man-marking involves each defender being responsible for an opposing player, sticking to them like glue. This can be effective against teams with standout players as it can be used to neutralise these key players by not giving them any room to operate. However, the downside is that it demands high levels of stamina and concentration so every player must be fit enough to adopt this strategy.

Quick Transitions

Just as it is important to transition from defence to attack with high intensity, it’s just as crucial that your team quickly transition back into defence should the opposition regain possession. With only five outfield players on the pitch, every player needs to ensure they get back into their defensive positions to help defend as a team if they lose the ball. A player regularly being out of position too far up the pitch can be the difference between a solid defensive performance and an embarrassing defeat.

Transitioning into defence in 6-a-side football.
Transitioning into defence in 6-a-side football.


There you have it, everything you need to know to succeed in the 6-a-side game. Don’t forget, adopt these strategies and tips based on your team’s strengths and weaknesses – with any variation of football, it’s never ‘one size fits all’. Most importantly, make sure you enjoy the beautiful game! If you’re interested in even smaller-sided games, check out our guide on everything you need to know about 5-a-side football.