Why you should try futsal

Guide All Ages

Ready to ramp up the pace? Use futsal to sharpen your teams’ all-round skills, quick-thinking and ability to play in tight spots.


Some of the world’s best footballers first built their skills through futsal, the fast-paced 5v5 format recognised as a game in its own right.

To see why the format’s been credited with giving stars like Ronaldinho and Messi their start, we counted every action in a 20-minute 5v5 game played on a 30x20 metre pitch by U9s. Normal futsal rules were applied, and the ball was in play 50% of the time.

Here’s what the game looked like:

An infographic showing some of the benefits of futsal; such as players having the chance to intercept and move with the ball more.
A summary of the futsal game we observed.

WHAT THE NUMBERS TELL US

Across the game, there were 495 touches of the ball. A huge 155 more touches than a 3v3 game we analysed (where the ball was also in play for ten minutes) and 33 more touches than a 7v7 (even though the ball was rolling a minute more in the 7v7). For pace, this can’t be beaten.

Each player got ample opportunity to practise attacking and defending skills, especially moving with the ball, receiving, passing, challenging and intercepting. At an average of twice per outfielder, intercepting was double the 3v3 and 7v7 formats.

Goalkeepers had the chance to pass from their hands ten times on average. That was by far the most this happened across the three formats reviewed. They also had a respectable average of nine shots to save, with a good balance of sweeper-keeper actions and 1v1 situations.

The downsides of 5v5? Fewer actions per player than the smaller-sided 3v3 format and no chance for keepers to move with the ball. There were fewer crossed and aerial balls than 7v7 too.


THINGS TO CONSIDER

Remember, the game we reviewed was delivered on a 30x20 metre pitch. If you switch up the size of this area, you’ll start to see different skills come into play.

Want to work on interceptions, challenges and 1v1 situations? Try a smaller pitch to make tight spots even tighter. A bigger pitch, on the other hand, can help with ball striking and moving with the ball over long distances.

And it’s not only the total pitch size that matters. Think about the space per player. Working out the relative pitch area (RPA) can be helpful. Simply multiply the length of the pitch by its width and divide the result by the total number of players.

Other things to think about:

  • Is the pitch within ‘walls’ or can the ball go out of play?
  • Are goalkeepers allowed out the box?
  • Do players roll or throw the ball in from the sidelines?
  • Must corners be taken short?
  • What actions do you expect from the age group that’s playing?

Remember, any decision on how a game’s set up will influence it in some way.


WANT TO FIND OUT MORE?

Check out our articles on 3v3 and 7v7 to help you pick the best format for your coaching needs.


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