It might be controversial but here goes: 7 a side is better than 11 a side *runs for cover*. To be fair they’re not completely comparable. 7 a side is often a more relaxed affair, whereas 11 a side is normally always a competitive game, ie league or cup, and is actually ‘proper’ football in the sense that it’s what the pros play. In fact, in the UK there are now more people playing small sided games like 7 a side than 11 a side, which isn’t a great sign for grassroots football but shows the growing popularity of small sided football. Anyway, here’s 6 reasons why 7 a side beats 11 a side: 

You get to play more

Although some people throw themselves into small sided games for fitness reasons, more on that later, the reason people play football of any format is because they actually want to play. You know, with the ball and stuff. Whilst 11 a side might be the football that we all see on TV, there’s no denying that you’re more likely to get the ball in a 7 a side game. It’s simple maths. In fact, FIFA (the organisation, not the game) did a study and showed that in a 7 a side game you get twice as many touches as an 11 a side game. Sure it may be ‘proper’ football, but we’d all rather have the ball than just do the running. 

7 a side gives players more touches of the ball.
Plenty of touches in 7 a side football

Although he’s just as annoying, the guy who doesn’t pass is more effective

In every type of amateur football there’s always that one guy who doesn’t pass and instead just wants to dribble through all the opposition. If you can’t think of who it is on your team, then sorry, but it’s probably you. However, in 7 a side this player is more useful and effective as there are simply less players to beat. Plus the game is often less physical, meaning that he’s less likely to skip past one player only to be hacked down for daring to use skill. He might be just as annoying, but he’s definitely more effective, 7 a side is just more skill-friendly than 11 a side. 

It’s easier to fit into a busy schedule

Lots of people who love football and want to play it have busy work and studying schedules which simply don’t allow them to commit to 90 minutes of 11 a side football on a Saturday or Sunday. This is where 7 a side comes in. Since it’s a more intense game than it’s 11 a side brother, games will always be shorter than an 11 a side match, in fact they’ll often take up the same amount of time as just one half. Therefore, it can be easier to fit a game of football into your busy schedule. Plus most leagues offer an option to play during midweek in the evening which gives you a relaxing weekend to enjoy after a week of working/studying. Everybody wins. 

That individual who doesn't pass is better at 7 a side
Even the guy who doesn’t pass is better

Better for your fitness

At times during an 11 a side it just felt like constant running. The combination of the bigger pitch and the lack of touches (my team weren’t the best to be fair) meant running was probably the most common activity. Now I could tell you that due to smaller pitches, 7 a side has less running. To be honest it could be true, I mean you do use smaller pitches. In terms of getting fit however, 7 a side is actually better than 11 a side. Instead of running up and down a full-size pitch, you do intense, short bursts of running. Although at the end this can make you feel like you’re dying, this type of exercise is definitely better for you and is often much better for you than going to gym. 

& a side isn't as dependent on the weather as 11 a side
Wouldn’t get this in 7 a side…

No mudbaths

7 a side is, thankfully for those from the UK, a game played on AstroTurf or 3G rubber crumb pitches. That means no mudbaths. One feature of 11 a side that is both hated and cherished is playing in the rain. The slide tackles are great. Probably the best thing ever about 11 a side. The mud though is just a pain. Within seconds of kick-off, somehow you can be caked in mud that you know will just dry and be impossible to get off. I mean, it makes the slide tackle a bit of a Catch-22. Do you slide in majestically and end up covered in mud? Or stay on your feet and not get the rush of the tackle. With 7 a side, this problem is no more. Although AstroTurf is the most painful thing ever when you slide in, a rubber crumb pitch isn’t affected at all by the weather. Ultimately, regardless of the weather (within reason) you can play 7 a side, which is all we want really. 


Better for everyone

As it’s quicker and intense, with little or no tactics and on smaller pitches anyone can be the hero. In 11 a side there’s always one who tries their best, but is obviously the weakest player. It’s not nice, but it’s the truth. In 7 a side, due to the intensity and speed of the game, generally there is a real lack of control. This means it’s anyone’s game. Plus the Total Football a 7 a side team plays where anyone can play anywhere means even the guys who normally get banished to defense in 11 a side can pop up and grab the winner in 7 a side. Anyone can be the hero in 7 a side, and in general it’s probably more a game for all, as opposed to the better players.