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Futsal the way Forward

Futsal the way Forward

Why Futsal?

Futsal is the only indoor game sanctioned by FIFA. If skill development is important, Futsal is recognized as the best form of indoor soccer for this. But that’s not the only reason to play the game, besides better skills development, quality touches, increased quantity of touches, it’s safer, no slide tackles, reduced contact, no injuries associated with wall collisions and for anyone that has had to organise a team, because  there are fewer payers, it is much easier to organise.

Who says Futsal is really that much better?

Futsal is FIFA’s approved indoor football game, there are others all very similar, but Futsal is the recognised indoor football version by (presently) the world largest governing body. The official Futsal ball is a size 4, reduced bounce ball. However, from a development point of view and pure fun, this could just as easily be a reduced bounce size 2 or 3 ball.

Many football coaches and academies around the world promote the sport as a developmental tool for players, as opposed to the “big game” where players can often get lost and have a limited amount of time on the ball. Brazil is among the many nations that swear by it. Pele, Ronaldo, Robinho, Romario, Zico, Adriano, Kaka and Bebeto all credit Futsal for much of their skill and technique development. All the major heads of Soccer and FIFA declared that this is the way to go. Once you experience Futsal, you will see the reasons.

Below is a “Why Futsal” video.

(to see other young stars, check out this playlist on YouTube).

“At 12, I joined an indoor “Futebol’ De Salao” league to play Futsal. Futsal is a game played on a hard surface with a small ball made to roll — not bounce. Your footwork had to be good to move in and out of traffic, since the pitch was so small — about the size of a basketball court. I loved the challenge of playing in such tight spaces” Ronaldo, Brazil National Team, 3 times World Player of the Year 


Futsal is played to a boundary line (not to a surrounding  wall like some indoor football) which means close control is a must, to keep possession of the ball. It is great for learning flicks and tricks to take on players in 1v1 situations, because it so easy to get “locked” into a corner of the field of play that may not allow for you to pass your way out of trouble (unless your team is playing very well). This forces players to learn how to make space for yourself, take players on or shield the ball, all very valuable skills to learn.

As a youth coach I can “hand on heart” tell you that 4v4 is recognised as the best sized game to have for development football players to learn how to work together and develop their skills. This makes me consider “Street Football” as a development tool, 4v4 on a basketball court, with mini goals and no goalkeeper. In such a game, every player will experience a situation that will either teach them something about themselves, how they might solve an individual problem in the future or how they can best develop their team play.

From a coaches position, 4v4 is recognised as the minimum number of players you need to fully recreate the full sized game of football, while observing footballs “Principles of Play”, that require a team in possession to create width, length and depth in their attack. It gives those involved an environment from which they can learn the “big game” while always being actively involved in what is happening on the pitch.

“As a kid, you need to touch the ball as much as you can. You should always be with the ball. You should have a feeling that wherever the ball is, you can do anything with it. No matter where it is, where it is on your body, how it’s spinning, how it’s coming at you, the speed it’s coming at you, anything. You can learn the tactical side of the game later. It’s amazing to me that people put so much emphasis on trying to be tactical and worry about winning when it doesn’t matter when you’re 12 years old. We’re going to have big, strong, fast players. We’re Americans, we’re athletes. But if we never learn at an early age to be good on the ball, then it’s just useless.” Landon Donovan, US National Team 

Is Futsal new?

Futsal is the new rage in soccer. However, as is often the case, United States is just catching on to what the world already knows. Superior soccer skill is built by simulating the outdoor game indoors with small-sided games and a smaller ball. World famous clubs such as Ajax have used this approach for years. Futsal has been around for over fifty years but the America’s interest in soccer skill development has only recently focused attention on the training techniques used in successful soccer powerhouses such as Brazil, Holland, Germany, France, Argentina, Spain and Italy.

How does Futsal promote better technique?

Just watch Futsal players fight to keep the ball from crossing the touchline and you’ll immediately begin to see how FUTSAL develops skill, control, and technique. A small field with lines puts players constantly under pressure from other players and out-of-play boundaries. Players must learn to settle the ball rapidly, turn sharply, shield effectively, pass quickly and move into open space. Compared to walled soccer or large indoor field soccer, Futsal places a greater premium on ball control. There is no reward for errant passes because the other team gets the ball. There is no incentive to ‘kick and run’ because the field is too small and packed with players. Players with the ball must use proper technique to maintain control and must seek out other players in space. Players without the ball must move to ‘real’ space and must truly support their teammates.

However, for Futsal, the emphasis is clearly on control and technique.

Without control and technique you cannot expect to succeed in Futsal.

If you are serious about skills and technique development, Futsal is the superior activity. Futsal promotes better technique and develops skills more rapidly. It is the “expressway” to correct soccer player development. It is time well spent.

How is Futsal better than Walled Soccer?

Futsal improves player soccer skills better than walled soccer for both offensive and defensive skills training.

As an offensive Futsal player, there are no walls to save errant passes. There are no walls to stop long balls. There are no walls to rebound errant shots. There are no walls against which to pin the ball or your opponent. There are no walls to help you if you lack the feinting skills to beat a defender. There are no walls to save you if your teammates are not moving into space to support you. In general, you must control the ball, use proper touch and technique, use correct pace, send accurate service, and truly work dynamic combinations.

As a Futsal defender, you can ‘face up’ on an oncoming player just like in outdoor soccer (there is no wall pass to beat you). You can let errant passes go out of bounds to win the ball (the proper result of your opponent’s faux pas). Goalies and defenders can concentrate on proper shot blocking angles. You do not need to worry about long overhead balls, which should go out of bounds. You can drive an oncoming player into the side to break up break-a ways or outnumbered breaks. In general, you can practice and perfect the defensive techniques, which apply to outdoor soccer. You don’t waste time working on defending against phantom players (i.e. walls).

#5 ball #4 ball with reduced bounce
11 players 5 players
3 substitutions Unlimited “flying” substitutions
Throw-in Kick-in
Main referee & 2 assistant referees (linesmen) Main referee and assistant referee with nearly identical responsibility
Running clock operated by main referee Stopped clock operated by timekeeper
45 minute halves 20 minute halves
1 time-out per team per half
Goal kick Goal clearance (goalkeeper throw)
No shoulder charges or sliding tackles
4-second rule on restarts
Offside rule
Unlimited fouling 5-foul limit (and “no-wall” free kick)
Goal Keeper cannot touch by hand a ball kicked back to him Goal Keeper cannot touch by hand *any* ball played back to him (inc. head and chest)
Back pass allowed to Goal Keeper only: after ball has crossed halfway-line or been touched by an opponent
No substitution for player sent off Player sent off can be substituted for after 2 minutes has elapsed or opponent has scored
Corner kick placed in arc Corner kick placed on corner
“In Portugal, all we played growing up was Futsal. Although the smaller court helped my footwork skills, the nature of the game made me feel so free when I played. If it wasn’t for Futsal, I would definitely not be the player I am today.” Cristiano Ronaldo
“In Argentina, when I was a young boy, I used to play a lot of Futsal on the street and with Newell’s Old Boys. It was a really fun game that’s helped me a great deal.” Lionel Messi
“I played Futsal for 2 or 3 years before I joined Santos. Futsal was important in helping to develop my ball control, quick thinking and passing … also for dribbling, balance and concentration … futsal was very, very important, no doubt.” Pele

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