It's no surprise that your five-a-side team is a local laughing stock.
Your 0-0-4 formation, brave as it might be,has been an unmitigated disaster. Your keeper shoots for goal whenever he gets the ball, and the only effective tactic you employ is a post-match shortcut to the pub.
But don't lose hope: with the help of Nick Ascroft's 'How To Win At 5-A-Side', you can become the the playground Pirlo you always dreamed of being. Here are just some of the ways you can record that first win this week...
1 | Utilise the wall
"The sidewall (if you have one) is very useful when dribbling around a defender. Hit the ball into the wall and run past the outside of the flat-footed defender to collect it. Kick the ball with a good amount of force too, so that when collecting it you can choose to move towards goal with the run if the ball or continue down the wing."
2 | Time-waste
"If you're winning, there is no shame in winding the clock down. Deliberately kick the ball into 'Row Z' (over the fence, so that someone has to retrieve it). Refs tend not to add on time in 5-a-side; another game is scheduled straight afterwards."
3 | Locate the death star
"I refer to the zone in the central strip of the defensive third as the 'death star'. This is the area that needs the most serious defending, as it is the simplest zone to score from. The reverse is also true. In attack you want to fashion space for a player in your opposition's death star, and get the ball to them."
4 | DE-FENCE, DE-FENCE
"In my opinion on the weighing of roles, defence is equally important as attack, but this is not the mindset of the social 5-a-side player. Everyone wants to score the glory goal, but if you're playing to win then you need to compensate for this natural glory-hunter bias and focus on vigilant defensive strategy."
5 | Learn the must-have skills
"If I could think of five skills which any player can learn at any age that would help a team win, they would be:
. The ability to look up, either a receiving the ball or with the ball to feet, to assess the next option.
. The ability to 'stand a player up' (get goal-side, mark closely but don't dive in), as opposed to trying to tackle them when they are coming towards you with the ball)
. The ability to know when to pass backwards instead of barreling forward into a dead end.
. The ability to get into an unmarked line of sight with your teammate who has the ball.
. Positional awareness in defence relative to your teammate."
6 | Influence the ref
"Don't argue with their decisions, as it will just piss them off. But then, you're also not going to get the 50-50 decisions if you stay quiet. Appeal. Call out a goalie if he looks to be out of his area. I would advise against calling out 'Ref!' as an appeal."
7 | The goalkeeper decides where you shoot
"5-a-side is a game of angles. The goals are small and goalies should keep low and on their toes, quickly closing off the most obvious shooting opportunity. Your job is the spot the angle past them. It is simply a good habit to take a touch before shooting – the question is, are you confident of getting your body into a position where your weight is over the ball (in order to keep it low and hit the goal?)"