5-a-side Football Tactics

5-a-side Football Tactics

Brian McDermott, a coach with LOI Shelbourne Fc gives his views on the best 5 a side tactics for your teams.

the multiple hours you spent throughout your childhood playing Championship Manager/Football Manager dreaming of the day when you could channel your inner Jurgen Klopp or Mike Bassett? The endless pre & post games interviews in your bedroom, making the brave call to push the big centre back up front in the 75th minute or the tactical masterclass that got your team that vital away win in a Champions League Qualifier in the outer reaches of Macedonia! Well now is your time to shine!

Whether you’re playing 5-a-side football in Dublin with your friends, a work team playing a 5 aside football tournament for the first time or you’re a seasoned football 5s league team, these tactics can work for you all.  

Formation: 1-2-1-1


Pros – Solid defensively, strength in numbers when out of possession, it allows one player to stay up front

Cons – Giving up possession in oppositions half, limited support up front for the striker (from midfield) + very dependent on support coming from defensive players which could lead to 1vs1 situations in own half in possession is lost

Formation: 1-1-2-1


Pros – Plenty of support available for the striker from midfield, very flexible formation where midfielders can slot into defensive and attacking position’s in and out of possession with ease.

Cons – Leaving 1vs1 situations at the back, if midfielders don’t defend your team will be left extremely exposed in your half (defensive).

Formation: 1-2-0-2


Pros – Highly flexible formation, focused on attacking, strength in numbers up front, encourages rotation between defenders and attackers.

Cons – If attackers don’t track back gaping holes will appear in midfield, very much a gung-ho formation whereby you’re pinning your hopes on outscoring the opposition i.e. without a midfield there will be very little control.  

Formation: 1-1-3-0


Pros – Ideal for pressing, highly flexible formation for rotation, strength in numbers when attacking from midfield.

Cons – No striker means no focal point up top, leaves your sides defender in 1vs1 situations with the opposition striker.


Brian’s Pick  
I think the 1-1-2-1 Formation is the best as it gives great balance i.e. playing with a holding midfielder and an attacking midfielder, this allows your team to have two defensive players when out of possession and in possession you will have at least two attacking players at all times.
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Brian McDermott, is a coach  with over 15 years coaching experience from working at the FAI, to Elite Youth Level and past stints as a player at Bohemians FC and Kilkenny City, I’ve gotten the chance to work under some fantastic managers/coaches and hope to continue progressing as a coach.  I hold the UEFA B Licence Qualification and I’m currently coaching at Shelbourne FC, Dublin.  Long suffering Sunderland fan and a keen supporter of the Irish Football Team.


Linkedin: brianmcdermott1988