With so many variations of 5-A-Side football rules (Five-A-Side), PlayCam can help clear up the confusion with our guide to 5-a-side football rules.

With help from the FA’s official 5 A Side Football Rules: Laws of the Game 2012, PlayCam gives you a handy summary to keep players informed.

The basics

Typically, the 5-A-Side (Five-A-Side) pitches are enclosed within a boundary area. These playing areas are marked with lines. These markings within the pitch indicate the following:

(1) Goalkeeping area – This is defined at each end of the pitch as a semi circle around the goal. This area is exclusive to the goalkeepers.

(2) Halfway mark – The centre mark is indicated at the midpoint of the halfway line. At the start of a game or following a goal, teams start and restart the game from this point.

(3) Penalty mark – A penalty spot is the mark just outside of the goalkeeping area.

Corners and throw-ins – Unless marked with a line, there are no corners and throw-ins during a 5-A-Side game. If the pitch is not bounded, a player restarts play with either a roll in or kick in.

5-A-Side Football Rules - Pitch Markings - PlayCam UK


League and competition games are divided into two equal periods. Each period can range between 5 and 25 minutes. Half Time intervals are a maximum 5 minutes, unless otherwise altered by the Referee.

Added time (injury time) is allocated if periods of the game is lost through stoppages.

Scoring and winning

A goal is awarded if the whole of the ball passes over the goal line. A goal is not awarded if it has been thrown by hand, including goalkeepers.

The team that scores the most goals during a game is the winner. If both teams score an equal number of goals, the game ends in a draw. In tournaments, extra time and penalties will implemented to determine a winner.

Teams & substitutions


A match is played by two teams, each consisting of not more than 5 players on the pitch at one given time. Squads can consist of a maximum of 8 players (3 substitutes).

The game is officially played with 4 outfield players and 1 goalkeeper per team. Formations and positions are set by each team. There are no limits to the amount of defenders or attackers per team.

5-A-Side Football Rules - Substitution Rules - PlayCam UK


Substitutions during a game and are unlimited. A substituted player may return to the pitch again for another player. This is know as rolling substitutions.

Substitutions can only take place during a stoppage in play (e.g. a goalkick, free kick, restart, etc.). If a referee is present, then the referee must be notified of this change. The substituted player must pass the boundary line (off the pitch) before the new player can enter play.

All substitutes must remain outside the pitch, or behind their goals if there is no gate or barriers.

Goalkeeper substitution – Any player or substitutes can replace the goalkeeper. The game will continue, even if the new goalkeeper is putting goalkeeper gloves on.

Time wasting during a switch will result in a free kick/goal kick to the opposing team.

Goalkeeper & back-passes

Goalkeeping area

No player except for the goalkeeper is allowed inside the goalkeeping area. If a defender enters the area to defend and makes contact with the ball, the attacking side is awarded a penalty. If an attacker enters the area to score, the defending team restarts with the goalkeepers ball or advantage played.

If a goalkeeper makes contact with the ball outside of the area, a resulting penalty for the attacking team is awarded.

Goalkeeper distribution

The goalie can either throw or roll out the ball with their hands. The goalkeeper cannot kick the ball to teammates.

5-A-Side Football Rules - 5-A-Side Football Back Pass Rule - PlayCam UK

5-A-Side back-pass Rule

If a goalkeeper distributes the ball to a defender, that defender must then pass to an outfield player before returning the ball to the goalkeeper.

As per the example; a defender cannot receive the ball from their goalkeeper and then pass directly back to them. As a result of the committed ‘back-pass’, the attacking team are awarded an indirect free kick from the position of the passed-back pass (minimum of 2 yards outside the goalkeepers area).

During the match


A kick-off is performed at the start of both periods of play. A kick-off is also performed after a goal has been scored. All players must be inside their own half when the opposition are taking a kick-off.The ball must be stationary on the centre mark and the kicker must not touch the ball more that twice until another player has touched the ball.

A goal may be scored directly from the kick-off.

Out of Play

If the ball is lost out of bounds or lodged within the barriers, the game is restarted with a ‘drop ball’. The referee releases the ball between two players. Play commences once the ball touches the ground.


There is no offside within the 5-A-Side football rules.

Playing areas

All outfield players are permitted to play anywhere on the pitch, except for the goalkeepers area. Unlike the outfield players, goalkeeping are restricted to their own goalkeeping areas only.

Goal attempts can be made from anywhere on the pitch (apart from goalkeeping areas).

5-A-Side Football Rules - 5-A-Side No Offsides - PlayCam UK

Free kicks & misconduct

Fouls and misconduct

Within 5-A-Side Football rules, there are a number of ways fouls are awarded. Below is a list of fouls and misconducts that would constitute as a ‘direct’ free kick:

  • Dangerous play – Kicking, tripping or charging an opponent
  • Excessive tackling – Recklessly or careless tackles
  • Slide tackling – Slide tackles are not permitted (includes block attempts)
  • Hand ball – Excluding the goalkeeper within their own areas
  • Time wasting – Attempts to slowdown play

Below is a list of fouls that would constitute as an ‘indirect’ free kick:

  • A back pass – After receiving the ball from a goalkeeper, a player passes the ball directly back
  • Incorrect goalkeeper distribution – a goalkeeper can only use their hands to distribute the ball
5-A-Side Football Rules - 5-A-Side Direct Free Kick - PlayCam UK
5-A-Side Football Rules - 5-A-Side Indirect Free Kick - PlayCam UK

Free kicks

The ball must be stationary when taking both a direct or an indirect free kick. The free kick taker cannot touch the ball a second time, until it has touched another player.

All opponents must retreat at least 2 yards from the free kick position. The ball is back in play once the free kick taker has touched the ball.

Penalty kicks

There are two ways that penalty kicks are awarded against a team:

  • An outfield player makes contact with the ball inside their own goalkeeping area.
  • A goalkeeper makes contact with the ball outside their own goalkeeping area

Penalty kick takers have a maximum one yard run-up to strike the ball. All defending players can wait outside of the goalkeeping area during the penalty kick.

Below are fouls that would result in a penalty kick:

  • Players inside of the area – Outfield players cannot make contact with the ball inside the area
  • Goalkeepers outside of the area – Goalkeepers cannot make contact with the ball outside the area

Player dismissal

Players can be excluded from play if they commit any of the following offences:

  • Striking or attempting to strike another player
  • Continuous tackling recklessly or carelessly
  • Spitting at an opponent
  • Unsportsmanlike conduct
  • Verbal abuse to the opposition or referee

Players that are dismissed from the game will not take any further part in the match. It is within the referee and officials power to forfeit a game and award a victory to a team, without the finishing the game.

Overhead height

Contrary to popular belief, and other 5-A-Side football rules; overhead height play IS permitted within 5-A-Side.