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What is Futsal & How to Play It?

Futsal is a thrilling indoor game that is quite similar to soccer. Interest in this game has been growing rapidly with time, all over the world, among the young and the old. In futsal, the players follow rules that are quite similar to those in soccer, with some exceptions. 

As opposed to soccer, futsal is played indoors, uses a small ball, and each team has five players. Futsal is a fun game for teams that either don’t have access to a soccer field or simply want to play indoors on smaller fields. 

If you are looking for a fun indoor game that you can engage in, or you want to learn more about futsal, then keep reading. 

Basic Rules In Futsal

Size Of Ball: Futsal is normally played with a size 4 ball which is smaller than a regular soccer ball (size 5). The size 4 ball is a bit heavier and bounces less, which makes it better for this indoor game. 

Team Size: Unlike soccer, which has 11 players per side, Futsal has 5 players on each side. One player is chosen to play the goalkeeper position. 

What Is Futsal

Each team should also have one dedicated attacker. The attacking player, also known as the pivot, leads the team when it is playing offense. You should also select one dedicated defender for each team. 

This player, also referred to as the last man, remains within the team’s half so that they can defend any offensive play from the other side. The other two players are referred to as the wingers, and they play in the midfield. 

Game Timing: Unlike soccer that has 45-minute halves, the halves in futsal are 20 minutes long. 

Another difference between soccer and futsal is that in futsal timing stops once the ball is not in play. In soccer, timing continues even when the ball is not being played.

If the two futsal teams tie at the end of normal time, you can add more time (overtime) and the team that scores first during the extra time wins. 

Touching The Ball With Your Hands Is Not Allowed: This is something futsal has similar to soccer. Futsal players cannot touch the ball with their hands.

However, the use of any other body part to stop or redirect the ball is allowed. Shouldering is allowed as long as the player keeps their elbow down.

Each Team Is Entitled To A Single Timeout Per Half: Unlike soccer that does not allow any time-outs, in futsal, each team is entitled to 1 time-out for each half. However, time-outs are not transferable to the other half – if a team does not take their first-half time-out, they cannot have it in the second half. They can only use the second-half timeout. 

If The Ball Goes Out Of The Designated Play Area, Kick It Back Into Play: In soccer, if the ball goes out of bounds, it is thrown back into play. In futsal, the ball is kicked back into play. There are however some additional futsal rules regarding out-of-bounds balls. 

If a futsal ball touches the ceiling of the indoor field, it is considered to have gone out of bounds. 

If a futsal ball goes out of bounds, the player that kicks it in is not allowed to make an on-goal shot and score. The player can, however, pass the ball to a teammate who can then score. 

Access To Unlimited Substitutes: Unlike soccer that only allows three substitutions per team, futsal allows as many substitutions as you would wish. The substitutions, however, have to be made in the designated substitution zone. The area that is right in front of the respective team’s bench is the substitution zone

Futsal is usually a high-speed and aggressive game. It is therefore advisable to use your substitutes in a strategic manner so that tired players can get some time to rest. 

Substitutions For Sent-off Players: In futsal, if a player is sent off for some reason, the team can substitute the sent-off player with another player after two minutes or as soon as the other team scores. 

Goal Size: Futsal goals are two feet smaller than the standard soccer goal 

Futsal Offensive Strategies

Play Towards The Sidelines: A futsal field is smaller than a soccer field. Wingers should try and play as wide as possible (by playing out towards the sidelines) so that they leave more space at the center of the field for passes. This could be helpful in offensive play. 

When A Teammate Moves, Move Into Where They Were Located: In futsal, it can sometimes be challenging to find a spot that you can move to, but if your teammate moves and thereby leaving an open position, you can move and fill up the position left by the teammate. Staying in one position for over 3 minutes is not recommended. 

If You Have The Ball, Move Towards The Defenders. If You Do Not Have The Ball, Move Away From The Defenders: Moving towards the defenders when you have the ball will give you a chance to push past them. If you don’t have ball possession, moving away from the defenders opens up the field thereby creating opportunities. 

Be Generous With Your Passes: This is a game of fast moves and high energy. Passing the ball more increases the chances of scoring a goal. 

More Passes To Push Through The Defenders: Because futsal is played on a smaller field, the defense can be very effective in blocking your on-goal shots. Your offense team should expect to make more passes among themselves while trying to break down the defensive formation. Don’t be in a hurry to take on-goal shots, but be patient with disorganizing the defense first. 

Futsal Defensive Plays

Fight For The Ball: Futsal is a more aggressive game compared to soccer, and you will have to fight a lot to steal the ball from your opponents. When playing defense, be alert about where the ball is and look for opportunities to take it away from your opponents. If the attackers lose control, you should be ready to seize the chance without any delay.

However, you are not allowed to hit, hold, trip or push an opponent. Doing this will cause the opposing side to be awarded a direct free kick. Sliding tackles are also prohibited. Some of these fouls can have you sent off the game. Basically, any move that is considered a foul in soccer is also a foul in futsal.

If a player fouls another player from the other team, the get a yellow card. If a player gets two yellow cards within one game, or if they commit a major foul, they receive a red card. 

Always Be Ready To Sprint: As we mentioned, futsal is a fast-paced game, and there is no resting with this one. Staying crouched forward such that your weight rests on your toes will help you sprint and defend when the need arises. 

Disrupt The Attacker: Your aim should be to put so much pressure on the player with the ball such that they lose focus and get confused about how to move from there. This way you can steal the ball from them. 

Defend From Behind The Ball: As a defender, you should always ensure that you defend while behind the ball so that you create a wall that will be difficult for the offenders to penetrate. 

Tips To Improve Your Futsal Skills: Like in any other sport, becoming proficient in futsal will require you to be persistent, dedicated, and have the right mindset. 

You should also respect the learning curve – by understanding that you won't be a pro overnight. Below are some tips that can help you become a better futsal player. 

Use The Sole Of The Foot To Control The Ball: If you have observed great futsal players, you may have noticed that they use the sole of their feet a lot, to control the ball and sometimes to stop a fast ball. 

Doing this is not only effective in ball control, but also provides you with many options. By using the sole of your feet, you can dribble, make a soft but accurate shot, or even move in any direction. 

This can be very advantageous in futsal. There are multiple drills that you can participate in to improve your ball control. 

Be Great At Passing The Ball: Due to its nature, futsal demands that you be generous with your passes. Being able to make precise passes will, therefore, prove to be very beneficial in this game. 

Making an accurate pass involves exerting just the right amount of force, enough to propel the ball so that it reaches the target and not so much so that the recipient can receive it easily.

One of the exercises that can enhance your ball passing is done by placing two cones near a wall, with the two cones being a short distance from each other. 

You then aim at passing the ball between the two cones and onto the wall. As you get better with time, you can reduce the distance between the two cones so that you enhance your passing precision. 

Things to Keep In Mind

Know Your Role: To be a great futsal player, it is essential to understand what is expected of you in whatever role you play. As a goalkeeper, offender, defender, or winger, you should know what your position entails, what you are supposed to do, and how you should do it. One crucial point is not to leave your zone exposed for no apparent reason. 

Have A system: Just like in soccer, there are multiple team formations in futsal, all with their own strengths and downsides.

Other than selecting a team formation, ensure that each member of the team understands what the formation entails, and most importantly, make sure that you stick to the formation during the game.

You can perform drills whereby you try different systems and then go with the most effective one for your team. 

Know Your Next Move: Having an idea of what your next move would be even before you receive the ball can be beneficial in futsal. As we mentioned, futsal is a fast-paced game that requires you to avoid any time wastage when you finally get hold of the ball. 

Being aware of your teammates' positions and noticing any gaps and open spaces, can be instrumental in being ready for the next move.

Avoid reacting without a plan when you receive the ball. Instead, be proactive so that you can be ahead of the curve and increase the chances of beating the other team. 

Be Good At Dribbling: A great futsal player needs to be great at dribbling. Since futsal is played in small fields, 

dribbling skills will help you get out of tight spaces when surrounded by players from the opposing team, or when pushing through the opponent defense.

Becoming good at dribbling takes a lot of effort. You should endeavor to be able to dribble while looking up – this allows you to look for any passing and shooting opportunities while also being able to see any impending attackers. 

Be Creative: As you might have realized by now, futsal is a very tactical game. It is crucial that you plan your play before the game starts, but what happens if certain conditions change in-game? This is where your creativity should kick in. 

Your pre-game strategy may not always work, and in such situations, you need to creatively re-strategize without losing momentum. 

Futsal Drills To Help Improve Your Game

Futsal Drills To Help Improve Your Game

Just like with regular soccer, futsal soccer players are expected to have certain soccer skills such as dribbling, passing, shooting, offensive, and defensive skills.

Such skills can be acquired by participating in various futsal soccer drills. We have compiled the best futsal soccer drills that players of different ages and skill levels can perform. Take a look.

Passing and Ball-Possession Futsal Drill

This futsal drill trains futsal players on proper passing, receiving and movement. 

The exercise helps players to make better decisions on when to retain the ball when facing pressure from the opponents, and when to pass the ball to teammates.

Setup

  • Divide the court evenly into thirds.
  • A 2v2 play will be held in the first, and the middle third – 2 defenders will play against 2 attackers in each of the two thirds.
  • A 1v1 play will be held in the final third – one defender will play against 1 attacker.

Instructions

  • The goalkeeper plays a ball to their defenders, who will then attempt to play the ball into the next third.
  • The ball has to move through the first two thirds before the player positioned in the final third can attempt to score a goal.
  • Once the defenders successfully play into the middle third, the keeper is required to get another ball and pass it to the two defenders, even if the first ball has not left the middle third.
  • The defending team will try to gain possession of the ball and drive it back to the first third without skipping any third. They will then try to score a goal.
  • Play for about 10 minutes and then switch the players’ roles from defenders to attackers and vice-versa.

Coaching Points

  • The players should play forward quickly and make good passes.
  • When the defenders block the passing lines or the players in the next third are still working on a ball, the players should retain ball possession until such a time when they get a good opportunity to play the ball to the next third.
  • The players should exhibit great team coordination so that they can retain possession - this can be achieved by doing rotations and interchanges.
  • The players need to make good and fast decisions regarding ball possession and passes.
  • The players should embrace the pressure from opponents and play with confidence.

Passing and Movement

In this futsal drill, futsal players will learn how to pass properly and make great movements in the court. Players learn how to create an overload in order to exploit opponents.

Setup

  • Create a 15 x 30-yard area on the futsal court and split it evenly into thirds.
  • Divide the players into 3 teams of 3. Each team occupies one-third of the area.
  • The team in the middle is the defending team.

Instructions

  • The coach starts by passing a ball to one of the teams positioned in an end-zone.
  • When a player in the receiving team touches the ball, the defenders can then enter the receiving team’s zone.
  • The receiving team may play the ball to the other end-zone team as a safe forward pass, but such a pass cannot score.
  • The receiving team can score a goal by either performing attacking combination plays or move with the ball to the middle zone and then make a forward pass. Attacking combination plays that they can perform include wall passes and parallel passes.
  • If the defenders win the ball, they should attempt to pass the ball to the team in the other third. If the defending team fails to pass the ball to the other team, they remain to be defenders.
  • The team that lost possession of the ball becomes the defending team.
  • Driving the ball out of bounds is not considered as winning possession.

Coaching Points

  • Encourage the players to perform smart combination play such as choreographed moves to retain possession.
  • Guide the players on how to take advantage of overload situations and make sound risk decisions regarding passing or retaining possession.
  • Encourage the players to try and face forward as much as possible.
  • Guide them on good decisions regarding when to travel with the ball and how to do it.
  • Create a fun environment such that players play comfortably even under pressure.

Moving and Working

This futsal drill will teach futsal players how to move and work as a unit. It helps the players understand the fundamentals of defense.

Setup

  • This drill will be played in half a futsal court.
  • Assign 4 players to be the defenders and five players to be the attackers.
  • The attackers surround the defenders while the defenders form a tight diamond shape within the circle of attackers.

Instructions

  • The defending players cooperate in an attempt to acquire and keep ball possession against an overload of 5 attacking players.
  • The attacking players score if they pass the ball through the defenders’ diamond formation.
  • The defensive players have to defend in a coordinated diamond shape to prevent any balls from going through them.

Coaching Points

  • The defenders should coordinate in a way that the defender nearest to wherever the ball is, forms the top of the diamond. This makes it harder for the attackers to pass balls through them.
  • The next two players after the top of the diamond are the wingers. Their task is to guard the middle of the diamond formation and prevent passes from coming through.
  • The player farthest from the ball is tasked with screening the ball through the defensive formation and communicating defensive movements to the other players.
  • The defenders have to always be in a diamond shape relative to the position of the ball. The defenders should vary the distance between them depending on the defensive pressure they are facing.

Shooting Futsal Drill

This is a highly effective futsal shooting drill that also helps futsal players to improve their dribbling and passing skills.

Setup

  • Divide the players into two even teams on opposite corners of the futsal court.
  • All players should have a ball with them.
  • Place 4 cones approximately 5 yards apart and about 5 feet from the wall along one sideline of the court.
  • The cones should stretch about three-quarters of the length of the court. The cones will be used in making wall passes.
  • Place about 8 cones on the opposite side of the court. These are the cones through which the players will dribble through.

Instructions

  • The first player in line assigned to wall passes is required to dribble to the first cone, shoot the ball towards the wall around the cone, collect the ball when it comes off the wall and proceed to the next cone.
  • The player will continue until they shoot the ball around the last cone.
  • After reaching the last cone, the player should make a one-touch shot towards the goal and then make a shot on target.

Dribble Through Cones

  • The first player in line assigned to dribbling should start at the same time the first player in line assigned to wall passes starts. The player is required to dribble in and out of the series of cones until they get to the end of the cones.
  • After the finish dribbling through the cones, the player should pass a ball to the coach who then sets a ball for the player to make a shot on target.
  • After making their first shots, the players are required to switch lines and continue with the pattern.

Coaching Points

  • The coach should see that the players exhibit excellent ball control as they dribble through the cones.
  • The players should play with speed on and off the ball.
  • Players should make accurate shots on target.

Dribbling and Passing

This futsal drill soccer drill focuses on dribbling and passing skills.

Setup

  • Divide the players into teams of 3. Each team should have one ball with them.
  • Place a cone about 2 yards from one of the side walls.
  • Place another cone a short distance past the midway towards the other side wall.
  • All the participating players should line up behind the cone nearest to the side wall.

Instructions

  • Instruct the first player in line to dribble across the court towards the opposite sideline.
  • When the dribbling player gets to the cone placed just past midway, they are required to play the ball off the wall.
  • When the ball bounces off the wall, the player should collect it and dribble back towards the starting line.
  • When the dribbling player gets about 5 yards from where the second player in line is waiting, they should make a pass to that second player.
  • The second player will repeat the same pattern the first player performed.

Coaching Points

  • The coach should see that the players dribble properly. The players should have good control of the ball, and they should dribble with their heads up so they can see the cones and distances at which they are supposed to shoot the ball.
  • The coach should see that the players dribble properly. The players should have good control of the ball, and they should dribble with their heads up so they can see the cones and distances at which they are supposed to shoot the ball.

Futsal Shoes & Balls

Final Thoughts

Playing futsal is a lot of fun, and that would explain why the game has become very popular in the recent past. As we have seen above, futsal shares many similarities with soccer. The two games also have a few differences. To be successful in this game, you need to exercise and gain various vital skills. This guide will help you learn how to play futsal successfully. 

Last update on 2020-07-08 / This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

About the author

Lazy Legs

"I learned all about life with a ball at my feet." Soccer allows me to push the limits of creativity and express myself without saying a word. Soccer is my addiction. I train, I play, and I repeat every single day. I hope you like my site. Feel free to say hey. I don't bite. :)

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