5-a-side game with reduced spaces

5-a-side game with reduced spaces
Tactics Manager

In modern football, developing spatial awareness and quick decision-making is crucial for success. To enhance these skills, a 5-a-side game with reduced spaces is an excellent training tool for an 11-a-side football team. This post details the benefits and setup of this training exercise.


To set up a 5-a-side pitch, you will need a ball, bibs, small goals and cones to mark the pitch. You don’t need a full-sized football field; a smaller area, typically 30m x 20m, will suffice. This smaller pitch size forces players to operate in tight spaces, enhancing their technical and tactical abilities. Use the cones to mark a no-defenders area, as shown in the picture. This area will stop defenders from standing right in front of the goals.

This drill is designed for 10 players (5 players per team). It simulates various aspects of an 11-a-side game but in a more condensed format. While variations with fewer players are possible, this setup ensures a balance between maintaining positional discipline and allowing fluid play.


This game emphasizes quick passes, movement, and spatial awareness. Here are the detailed instructions:

  • Divide the players into two teams of 5 players each.
  • Mark a small pitch, approximately 30m x 20m. Adjust the size based on the number of players and skill level.
  • The objective is to score in the small goals placed at each end of the pitch.
  • Encourage players to maintain their positions while in possession, simulating real game scenarios but in a reduced space.
  • The players on the team without possession of the ball cannot move into the no-defenders zone to cover the goal. 
  • The players on the team in possession of the ball cannot wait in the no-defender zone. They can only enter the zone if the ball moves to the zone.
  • When an attacking player moves the ball into the no-defenders zone, they can only touch it once to shoot at the goal.
  • Limit touches to 2-3 per player to encourage quick decision-making and passing.
  • Play to a scoring target, such as 5 goals, or for a set time, like 10 minutes per match.


This reduced spaces game offers numerous benefits for training an 11-a-side football team:

  • Improved Ball Control. Playing in tight spaces forces players to enhance their dribbling and ball control, which is essential for maintaining possession under pressure.
  • Enhanced Passing Accuracy. Limited space and touches require precise, quick passes, improving overall passing accuracy and efficiency.
  • Quick Decision-Making. Due to the confined space and high tempo, players must make rapid decisions, translating to better decision-making in real matches.
  • Spatial Awareness. Operating in a smaller area develops players’ ability to recognize and exploit spaces, which is crucial for effective team play.
  • Positioning and Movement. Players learn to maintain their positions while understanding when to move and create space, improving team shape and fluidity.
  • Teamwork and Communication. Success in this drill relies on teamwork and communication, as players must work together to retain possession and create scoring opportunities.
  • Fitness and Conditioning. The high-intensity nature of the game enhances players’ fitness, as they must constantly move, pass, and think quickly.
  • Defensive Skills. Defenders improve their ability to close down opponents, intercept passes and swiftly transition from defence to attack.


Incorporating this 5-a-side reduced-space game into your training routine can significantly enhance your team’s technical, tactical, and physical abilities. By simulating real game scenarios in a more controlled and condensed environment, players develop crucial skills that translate directly to improved performance in 11-a-side matches.

This drill improves individual skills and enhances overall team cohesion and understanding. Encourage your team to practice this game regularly to see noticeable improvements in match situations.

I hope you find this drill helpful. If you like this post, please share it with your friends. Also, if you know about other exercises or have questions, comment on our Facebook page.

Pablo Matamoros

I am a software engineer with 25+ years of experience across diverse industries. I've climbed the corporate leader over the years, which has some benefits but means I moved away from my love for tinkering with technology. So, I build the odd website or application to keep learning and stay in touch with technology. FootballTechniques allows me to combine my programming knowledge with my passion for football.

To find out more about my professional experience, visit PabloMatamoros.com