Futsal vs. Indoor Soccer
How Does Futsal Promote Better Technique?
Just watch futsal players fight to keep the ball from crossing the touch line 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, cut sharply, shield effectively, pass quickly and move into 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 reward for errant shots 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.
With futsal, the emphasis is clearly on control and technique. Without control and technique you cannot expect to succeed in futsal. And, if US players are to be more successful in the international arena, it is clear that we must better train and prepare our youth on proper technique. If you are serious about skills and technique development, futsal is the superior activity. Futsal promotes better technique and develops skills more rapidly.
And if you are serious about the quality of the time you spend playing or watching soccer games, futsal is clearly better.
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 mistake). 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-aways 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).
Consider some of the key problems with the following typical hockey-rink style Indoor soccer scenarios:
Question: In hockey-rink soccer, what happens when a player uses the wall in order to beat an opponent?
Answer: The player advances the ball past a defender when there’s a wall available without the need or effort of feinting, cutting, or chipping. Hockey rink soccer supporters defend this as a useful simulation of passing to a teammate who subsequently one-times the ball as part of a ’give-and-go’. Futsal sees this as a lost opportunity to work on skills to beat defenders (i.e. never waste an opportunity to work on the skills required for the outdoor game).
Question: In hockey-rink soccer, what happens when a player uses a wall to pass to a teammate?
Answer: The player advances the ball to a teammate when there’s a wall available without the need or effort of passing. Hockey rink soccer supporters defend this as a useful simulation of passing to a teammate who subsequently one-times the ball to the forward-most member of a ’triangle’. Futsal believes the best pass is to a live player. You should be developing dynamic combinations of moving players who move into space. The player with the ball looks for moving teammates and anticipates those movements. Don’t assume a stationary target (i.e. the wall) is always there ready for your pass. You need to be trained on the realities of the outdoor game and your teammates need to learn how to support you.
Question: What happens when a player blasts a shot against a wall so an onrushing teammate can score on the anticipated rebound?
Answer: The player creates scoring opportunities when there’s a wall available to either side of the goal without the need to make an accurate shot. While some soccer coaches label this a useful exercise, others feel it is best to practice taking accurate scoring shots.
Question: What happens when a player beats a defender by ’dumping the ball into the corner’ (á la NHL) and chasing it?
Answer: The player beats a defender when there’s a wall available without fear of the ball rolling out of bounds or without the need or effort of passing or dribbling. Futsal supporters argue that players should always be reinforcing the need to control the ball and keep it in play (i.e. never waste a touch).
1. These indoor soccer techniques assume that a wall is available. If there is no wall available then these wall-based skills have questionable value.
2. These so-called ’wall skills’ can account for a frighteningly high percentage of the touches in a game. Therefore, the quality of the time spent in terms of developing useful outdoor soccer skills is limited.
3. Playing with walls introduces a real danger to a player. What happens when a player pins his/her body against the boards either to advance a ball past a defender (who is also pinned against the boards) or to stop his opponent from advancing? And what can happen when players run at full speed toward the boards? Real horror stories abound.
It should be apparent that there are serious problems with the above scenarios in terms of developing proper technique for the ’real’ game of outdoor soccer.
How is Futsal Safer?
Eliminating walls makes soccer safer but there are other aspects of futsal which make it safer as well. Besides fewer broken bones and concussions (which too often occur in hockey-rink walled soccer), there are fewer high speed collisions because the field is shorter. You don’t develop the same full head of steam running for the ball in futsal and consequently have less of those related injuries. Finally, a game which emphasizes control under pressure versus kick and run inevitably leads to more heads-up play. In general, it is safer by virtue of the fewer injuries due to the nature of the arena and the game.
Just a Fad?
No. This is the way the world develops great players year-round. None of the successful major playing countries in the world including, Brazil, Italy, Germany, France, Holland, play indoor soccer in hockey rinks. Now that America is taking soccer seriously and wants to compete at the highest levels, futsal will irreversibly dominate the US indoor soccer scene. American soccer development will only advance to the next level when the indoor game advances to the same level as the rest of the world. Before entering another ’hockey rink’ style league, ask yourself "How important is skills development to my players?" This is the question coaches are asking and the conclusion people seem to be drawing is that futsal is the wave of the future. It is not a fad, it is the way the world plays and it is here to stay in America.
Futsal places a premium on control and technique. Take away the walls and you can still have as much fun as walled soccer. But there are far more quality touches and repetitions which directly translate to the outdoor game. With Futsal, you make better use of your time and money.