Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Futsal is FIFA's official indoor soccer game which is a scaled down version of outdoor soccer played indoors. It is a small sided game (5vs5) played on a smaller field (basketball court size) with a smaller ball.(size 3-4) Futsal is played with touchline boundaries. There are no walls in play. This is the game that outdoor soccer players around the globe play when they are indoors to refine and maintain their control skills and touch. It is superior to walled soccer in terms of developing better skills and technique. In traditional American walled soccer, players regularly whack the ball (and sometimes their bodies) against the boards which promotes improper technique and too often rewards errant play. In Futsal, players are constantly reminded to play the same quality control game that is required for success in the outdoor game.

Futsal is the only "Official form of Indoor Soccer" as approved by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association FIFA. It is played in all the continents of the world by over 100 countries with 12 million players. Futsal is normally played on a gymnasium floor. The game does not require the use of expensive dasher boards, as do other versions of indoor soccer, therefore making it a very economical & safe sport. Because the sport is a great skill developer, demanding quick reflexes, fast thinking, pin-point passing, and a four-second limit on all play restarts it is an exciting game for children as well as adults. Futsal is played with a special low bounce ball, forcing players to use their ball striking skills, rather than the ball's bounce, to propel it.

THE BALL: Unlike some myths, a Futsal ball is neither funny nor fuzzy. It is, however, different. The Futsal ball, also known as a reduced bound or low-bounce ball, is smaller than a normal outdoor soccer ball and heavier. There is a FIFA specification for the ball's size, weight and bounce.

These properties are designed to build confidence and develop skill & technique. When a Futsal ball is received, it virtually 'sticks' to the foot. This builds great confidence in tight spaces when rapid passes are being issued repeatedly. Interestingly, that same property which makes the ball easy to receive makes it more difficult to strike. A Futsal ball gradually eliminates the 'lazy pass'. It is heavier and players rapidly get acquainted with the merits of bending the knee, turning the hips, and striking the ball firmly to propel it. Repeated touches on the ball eventually produce a motion which, when transplanted outdoors with a high bounce ball, translates into a firmer and longer pass appropriate for the big field.

Many programs around the world also claim that smaller size encourages more precise striking of the 'sweet spot' of the ball. If one works during the offseason on striking a Futsal ball, then a larger bouncier ball is struck with greater confidence and authority in the outdoor game.

WHY IT'S BETTER THAN OTHER INDOOR GAMES: FIFA says Futsal is better. And the Brazilians are among the many nations that swear by it. Pele, Ronaldo, Zico, Socrates and Bebeto all credit futsal for much of their skill and technique development. All the major heads of US Soccer and FIFA declared that this is the way to go. Once you experience futsal, you will see the reasons.

HOW DOES FUTSAL IMPROVE 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 or errant shots because the other team gets the ball.There is no incentive to 'kick and run' because the field is too small. Players with the ball must use proper technique to maintain control, seek out other players to pass, must move to 'real' space and truly support their teammates.

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.

IS FUTSAL NEW?: Futsal is the new rage in American soccer. However, as is often the case, the US 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. Futsal has been around for over fifty years but US 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, and Italy.

IS FUTSAL AS MUCH FUN AS WALLED SOCCER?: Absolutely. If you like outdoor soccer, you'll love futsal. It is fast paced and exciting. With the field being so small, games are often high scoring affairs with many different players scoring goals. Even though the ball may go out of bounds, the ball must be put back in play within four seconds or the opposing team gets posession. This not only encourages better control but it also keeps players moving, because you must fetch it promptly and kick it back into play within four seconds.

It is interesting and important to note that, unlike outdoor soccer, THERE ARE WALLS IN FUTSAL CENTERS! The walls are three to ten feet from the boundary lines. Therefore errant balls rebound quickly back to players who subsequently put the ball back into play within four seconds. So, you experience the speed and continuous play of 'walled soccer' along with the benefits of small-sided, skills-oriented gaming.

From a developmental standpoint, you satisfy the objective of teaching proper technique while having fun. This is the most wonderful achievement of futsal.

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. 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.

IS THIS JUST AN ODDBALL FAD?: No. This is the way the world develops great players year-round. All of the successful major playing countries in the world including, Brazil, Italy, Germany, France, Holland, play Futsal. Now that America is taking soccer seriously and wants to compete at the highest levels, futsal will 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 indoor soccer, '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.

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