Six reasons to play walking football

Published Wed 14 Sep 2022

Below are six reasons to play walking football.

1. It's fun

Walking football is a simple game with endless possibilities. It takes years to master but can be played immediately with little instruction.

2. It’s social

The emphasis is social and not on winning. It’s all about getting out of the house and meeting new people. Many of the walking football organisations try to include social gatherings after games.

Walking football is particularly social because it is less competitive and usually not based on set teams so you get to play with, and get to know, different people every game. A few games into the season and you’ll know everyone.

3. It’s a great form of exercise

People who play walking football are pleasantly surprised to find that they do feel they get a good work out: their pulse is raised and they work up a sweat.

Research in the UK, where the game has been played for ten years, has shown that it is a good cardio-vascular exercise.

You might feel a bit tired after a game, but the recovery time is much shorter than running football where you might feel the effects of a game for a few days.

4. It’s a much safer form of football

The very rare collisions that do happen are accidental and at a low speed so the chances of getting injured are dramatically reduced. Players are consistently reminded not to become too competitive before and during games by the referees and other players.

5. It’s more like running football than you might first think

As well as the obvious constraint of having to only walk, walking football does have some modified rules and these are usually to ensure the safety of all participants. Other than that, it’s very much like regular football.

People who return to the game via walking football after years of not playing are surprised at how similar it is to what they remember: some even think it’s more fun because of the camaraderie, short recovery time, and reduced chance of injury.

6. It improves existing football skills and creates a new technical skill set

The application of football skills is unique to this adapted version of the game. Walking football enhances your existing skills and encourages you to learn new techniques.

Walking football encourages you to improve different aspects of the core skills like striking the ball, first touch and 1v1. It improves passing accuracy, you learn to carefully weight each pass, or you master the art of applying backspin - otherwise, you are likely to find the ball will roll out of play.

Players can’t rely on speed so they have to be clever in the way they manipulate the opposition’s positioning to create chances: movement off the ball becomes even more important.

Ultimately, while feeling like a regular game of football, walking football also offers players the chance to learn and master a new set of football skills.

Frequently asked Questions / Concerns

“I won't be able to stop myself running!”

This is the most common reason people give for not trying walking football.

From experiences in other associations, people very quickly adjust and stop themselves from running. Generally, new players are given gentle reminders if they start to run (or are unaware that they are running) rather than giving away free kicks.

The game is much like running football in many other respects but players learn to play with more subtlety : long passes in front of a teammate never work, you generally pass to feet. You will also learn new tricks to help adapt and thrive playing this format.

We find people tend to walk fast all the time during a game, whereas with running football it’s more sprints with rests in between. For that reason, walking footballers find that the game offers excellent cardio-vascular exercise and most people work up a sweat and feel pleasantly tired afterwards.

Unlike running football, recovery is much quicker. Walking footballers don’t suffer the  consequences the next day after a game.

“Walking football won’t be much fun, I prefer to run”

This is a common excuse, mainly from current or former players.

We know many ex-players who played very competitively who now love playing walking football. If you don’t want to sign up for a whole season, that’s fine, but come and try it just once.

“I haven't played football / any sport in years”

Many people playing walking football started after a gap of many years between playing sport. Because it is a social game, there is no pressure to perform or to be ‘good’ to start with. Some current players started having never played football/sport of any sort before.

You really can play at your own pace, and as you get more comfortable and confident, you will find you naturally get more involved.

Because it is non-competitive you will find that walking football has all the social and exercise benefits of sport without the aggravation that can happen when sport is played too seriously.

“It'll be too competitive / not competitive enough”

Walking football is still in its early stages in Australia. Most games are played for fun and social reasons, not because winning is important. Often no score is recorded during or after games.

As more people discover the sport, it’s entirely possible that there will be different levels you can choose to play at, and that will include a competitive league, but we aren’t quite at that stage yet.

In the UK, where the game has been played for over 10 years, there are leagues for different age groups, social/competitive leagues, and leagues for people with specific medical conditions.

“Footballers who head the ball have the potential for brain injury.”

Heading isn’t allowed in walking football. The ball must be below head/shoulder height.