Futsal, the fast-paced form of indoor soccer, is just as technical as its outdoor counterpart, but you’ll need a different mindset and a slew of different skills to excel at this intense sport.
The constraints and slippy surface of the arena spur performance, once you know what you are doing. With the right knowledge and practice, anyone can excel at futsal. Better yet, the skills developed here will follow a player to the traditional soccer field.
Here is the ultimate futsal beginners guide.
The traditional futsal kit consists of a jersey or shirt with sleeves, shorts, socks, shinguards made out of rubber or plastic, and rubber-soled shoes – no cleats are required due to the hard court. The goalkeeper is usually clad in long trousers and a different-colored kit to separate him from the other players on the team. The goalkeepers should wear elbow pads or they risk sustaining nasty injuries. If you want to play futsal street-style, you can wear whatever you want. After all, the game with a strong Brazilian vibe is all about movement – freeing the spirit.
A futsal pitch is all-weather and year-round because it consists of wood or another artificial material. The smooth, hard surface means that the small ball skids around at high speeds and sharp angles, forcing players to adapt instinctively. The pressure makes for superbly skilled players., and some of Brazil’s top soccer players honed their skills on futsal courts. Futsal is the best training ground for soccer players. The “standard” size court for an international game is 44 by 22 yards, but in common practice, the dimensions have plenty of leeway. The ceiling has to be at least four yards high, while the oblong goal is about three yards wide and two yards high. That is a tight space, which means that to score you have to get in close and unleash a devastating shot at a tricky angle. The acute difficulty of squeezing the ball into the net helped sharpen the skills of legends. As in soccer, the penalty area lies in front of the goal. A penalty kick from the penalty spot is given if a player commits a foul in the penalty area – often a game-changing mistake.
At the start of the match, a coin toss decides who will open proceedings, which are always frenetic. Few sports get your pulse racing more than futsal. It’s partly due to the tight and furious 40-minute time-frame. A standard game consists of two 20-minute stints guaranteed to give you a blood-pumping work out. The length of a half is stretched to allow penalty kicks and free kicks given for infractions as with conventional soccer. If you are a goalie, remember that you have just four seconds to put the ball in play or the other team gets the ball. Additionally, you can’t just casually toss it away. Touchline “kick-ins” must be executed within four seconds of the kicker taking possession of the ball. Extra time consists of two stints of five minutes. If no winner emerges, even after the extra time, five penalties are taken – the team that has scored the most triumphs.
The first time you glance at a futsal game, it may seem like a free-for-all – players sprint in all directions as the ball hops around the tight pitch at blazing speeds. There should be no less than three referees and a timekeeper. One important point to remember is the lack of an offside rule. Because of this, forwards can move much closer to the goal than in soccer. The game slants heavily toward offense, but you must watch your back – a deficit can rack up quickly. Once a team has accrued five fouls, the other team gets given a direct free kick with no goalkeeper for every following foul. When the ball rolls out of bounds, you do not throw it in – you place it on the line where it went out and kick it in fast.
Roots and Future
Futsal originally came to be in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1930. Then, Uruguayan professor, Juan Carlos Ceriani, dreamed up a soccer style to be played competitively at YMCAs. Picking up momentum, futsal was embraced by some of the world’s leading soccer players. Gradually, budding rules gained traction and the game became much more organized. Now, the exhilarating sport is played by over 12 million people in over 100 countries globally and touted as vital to the development of many professional soccer heroes. In Brazil, more people play futsal than soccer. Colombia has been chosen to stage the eighth FIFA Futsal World Cup in 2016 with Bogota, Villavicencio, Bucaramanga, Cucuta, Ibaque and Neiva proposed as the host cities. Last time, in 2012, the finals pitted two nations with formidable soccer traditions against each other: Brazil and Spain. Brazil won three to two.
Cover Photo Credit: Federacao de Futsal / Flickr.com