Rules: Small-Sided Football

Please respect your fellow footballers, the referee and yourselves during fixtures. Teams & players should familiarise themselves with the rules. If you're in doubt, contact your league manager or speak to your referee on match day.

Playing rules

1. The Basics

1.1 As the name suggests, 5 a side football is played on an indoor or outdoor court by five players, one of which is the goalkeeper.

1.2 All indoor and outdoor 5 a side games consist of 2 halves, usually of 14 to 20 minutes duration (check with for specific durations).

1.3 The half time interval shall be a maximum of 1 minute duration. Half time may be dispensed with at the Organiser’s discretion.

2. Start of Play & Breaks in Play

2.1 At the beginning of a five a side football game, the choice of ends is decided by the match official. Where there is no half-time choice of ends shall rest with the first named team on the fixture list. At kick-off, all players must be within their half of the pitch. The ball must be played forward and the taker cannot touch the ball again until other players kick the ball first.

2.2 If a ball crosses the sideline or it hits the fence above a board during a five a side game, a throw-in is awarded to the opposing team.

2.3 To return the ball into play, the player must deliver the ball underarm or be kicked in under head height. A ball being thrown or kicked in over head height could result in an indirect free kick to the opposing team. The exception to the head height rule would be where a ball comes back in over head height after hitting a goalkeeper after making a save or after hitting a goal post.

2.4 If a football crosses the goal line by the defending team where it is not a goal, a corner kick shall be awarded.

2.5 If the ball crosses the goal line by the attacking team, a Goal Kick shall be awarded.

2.6 The opposition must be a full TWO METRES from a throw-in or a corner kick during a small sided football game.

2.7 There is no offside rule in indoor or outdoor 5 a side football. Players may place themselves within any part of the playing area without any restriction.

2.8 When free kicks are taken, the opposition shall be a full TWO METRES from the ball until it is in play.

2.9 All free kicks and any indirect free kick that are taken around the goal area must be a minimum distance of 1m from this area.

2.10 Penalty kicks shall be played from the penalty mark or from the edge of the area directly in line with the centre of the goals. Penalty takers are allowed to take one step before striking the ball.

2.11 Goals cannot be scored directly from a throw-in.

2.12 In most leagues there are restrictions on players entering the goal areas. Where there is a restriction the following applies:

2.12.1 If an attacker enters the penalty area then a free kick is awarded to the opposing team TWO METERS outside of it.

2.12.2 If a defender enters the penalty area then a penalty kick will be awarded against them.

2.12.3 Goalkeepers may not leave the penalty area. If they do so then a penalty is awarded to the opposition unless the goal keeper’s momentum has carried him/her out of the area while making a save.

3. The Goalkeeper

3.1 The goalkeeper is not allowed out of their area during a game.

3.2 The goal keeper cannot take the ball back into their area from the outfield.

3.3 In most leagues there is no restriction on the goalkeeper using feet in the area during active play. This includes returning the ball into play using a kick. However, where there is a restriction the following applies:

3.3.1 Goalkeepers may use their feet to save but may not pass or clear with their feet.

3.3.2 Infringement will result in a free kick 2 metres outside the area.

3.4 If the goalkeeper chooses to return the ball with the use of a throw, it must be thrown underarm and under knee height in a horizontal or downward direction.

3.5 For a Goal Kick, the goalkeeper must return the ball into play with the use of one kick from anywhere on his goal line. They may not return the ball using a throw.

3.6 If a goalkeeper passes the ball to his own player, the ball must be played to another player before it can be returned back into the area for the keeper to pick up.

3.7 Penalty for infringements of the rules above is a free-kick to the opposition 1m from the goal area.

4. Slide Tackles

4.1 Please note, particularly, that charging/sliding tackles are forbidden in 5 a side and shall be penalised with free kicks.

4.2 Persistent charging/sliding tackles when playing shall result in a yellow card which involves the player in question being in the sin bin for 2 minutes.

5. Players Equipment

5.1 All players MUST wear shin pads. This is compulsory and failure to do so may result in that person not being allowed to play.

5.2 Permitted footwear on sand dressed turf is astroturfed boots or trainers. Permitted footwear on rubber crumb turf is astroturfed boots, trainers, or soccer boots with non-metal blades or non-metal studs. Failure to wear the appropriate footwear may result in that person not being allowed to play at the referee’s discretion.

5.3 All teams must do their utmost to ensure that outfield players wear similar colours during a five a side football game. All players must also remove jewellery, including watches, before entering the field.

6. Substitutes

6.1 Five (5) substitutes per team shall be allowed during a game.

6.2 These substitutes may be pooled from the team’s registered players but must be nominated at the start of the games.

6.3 The rules of the competition allow unlimited rolling substitutions.

6.4 The conditions for making a substitution are:

• The referee must be informed before a substitution of an outfield player or any other player is allowed.

• The player leaving the field shall do so from their own goal line.

• The player entering the pitch must do so from their own goal line but not until another player has left the pitch

6.5 Any player may change with the goal keeper, provided that the referee is informed of the change and it is done so in a stoppage of play.

7. Organisation Rules

7.1 In a 5 a side league season, each team will play others in their division twice.

7.2 At the end of each season the top 2 teams from each division will be promoted and the bottom 2 teams will be relegated.

7.3 Teams will receive 3 points for a win, 1 for a draw and zero for a loss. League placings will be decided by points gained, followed by goal difference, followed by goals scored, followed by the aggregate result between the two teams in question.

7.4 At the end of each season the top 2 teams from each division will be promoted and the bottom 2 teams will be relegated (may vary) and a new season will start the following week.

7.5 Teams can appeal decisions by contacting their respective league managers via [email protected].

7.6 League officers are elected by teams in the league (this is typically a captain from one of the more established teams).

7.7 An annual meeting whereby the management committee (formed from league officers and Ultimate5aside ltd management) will review the league rules etc.

Code of conduct & respect

8. Respect

8.1 Respect is the FA’s response to a clear message throughout the game that the health of five a side football depends upon high standards of behaviour on and off the pitch.

• Respect is a behavioural code for five a side soccer.

• Respect is about recognising that the integrity of the game is more important than the result of the games.

• Respect is about creating an understanding of what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in Football.

• Respect is about those involved taking responsibility for the consequences of their own actions.

• Respect is about supporting soccer match officials to do their job. Without them we don’t have a game.

• Respect is not a slogan. It is a collective responsibility of those involved in football to create a fair, safe, and enjoyable environment in which the game can take place.

9. Code of Conduct

These rules shall be overridden by the ‘Terms & Conditions‘ which shall always prevail in the event of any dispute, ambiguity or inconsistency.

All participants entering into sporting activities do so entirely at their own risk. The organisers, their servants or agents do not accept liability for any personal injury or loss/damage to property howsoever caused. These rules are binding on the teams and players taking part. A copy of these rules are available on request from and a copy of The Laws of Small Sided Football are available from the relevant sanctioning County FA or from

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