Generally, competetive football is about fielding your best team.

Whereas ability banding is about ensuring that teams and players are evenly matched. This way, all competitions and individual teams can cater for the diverse ability of their players. It means that you don't have to be the best to be able take part and they'll be able to compete against teams and players of a similar ability.

Different organisations use various bandings and terminology to identify ability levels

    • Special Olympics
    • Mencap
    • FA Ability Counts

The following grids attempt to draw a comparrison to the different banding systems in use


Very limited mobility & fitness.


For those player who have less experience of playing football, are less familiar with the team situation, who don't show any sophistication in their football skill and who may well have impaired mobility


Aimed at those players whose level of aptitude falls somewhere between that required for the Novice Section above and the Advanced Section below, i.e. those who have a knowledge of the requirements of the game but who do not possess the same level of skill of co-ordination as those in the advanced section.


For those players who are experienced in the team situation, play regularly, possess identifiable football skills, co-ordination, and have unrestricted mobility.

D - E Band
  • Low level of ball control
  • Low level of spacial awareness
  • Little teamwork or integration between players & No use of game tactics
  • Goalkeepers - sruggle to distribute the ball where intended, slow reactions
C Band
  • Moderate individual skills but strugles under pressure. Lacks power & direction
  • Better spacial awareness & level of integration between players
  • Strugles to work as a team in defensive situations
  • Goalkeepers - Better awareness, saves by blocking the ball, lacks strength when distributing the ball
B Band
  • Certain ball skills advanced but effected by pressure
  • Uses physical pressure in defence and attack
  • Good spacial awareness & high level of interaction between players
  • Works as a team in defensive plays & uses game tactics at set pieces
  • Goalkeepers - Saves by blocking & catching, good timing and coordination under pressure, distributes the ball well both phisically and tactically
A Band
  • Excellent ball skills in all areas of the game, combining skills under pressure
  • Able to provide a strong defence when tackled
  • Very good spacial awareness and uses entire playing area
  • Good team work in attack and defence, adapts set pieces & tactics as required
  • Goalkeepers - Very good match awareness & organises defence, saves by catching & blocking under pressure, distribues ball with power and high level of precision


FA Ability Counts

Ability Counts teams do not routineley play in ability banded groups like the systems described above. Most leagues have adopted a three tier system which encourages teams to play their strongest team in the top division.

  • Premier League
  • Championship
  • League One

In some cases a club's "B" team could be as strong as their "Premier League" team, but will still play in the "Championship" section.

Comparison Between Banding Systems
Special Olympics
FA Ability Counts
A Banding
Premier League
B Banding
C Banding
League One
D Banding
Lower Novice
League Two
E & F Banding
Lower Lower Novice
League Three
This should be used as a only a rough guide when comparing the different banding systems.

This site is designed and maintained by Mark Summers