Futsal: Individual skills or tactical game

Futsal is almost a centennial sport, it was created in Uruguay in 1930. During all these years, the game was transformed in so many ways, that we lost track. Now a days, the game of futsal is faster than ever before, but maybe because of that, the game lost his essense.

Going back 20, 30 or maybe 40 years, a excellent futsal player was the most skilled one. Dribbling and doing fantastic tricks with the ball were the main caractheristics. But is futsal only that or the game has so much more to present?

Several clubs in Brazil uses futsal as a developing tool for building better youth football players. We can give inumerous exemples of world class football players, who played futsal in their younger ages. But futsal also have the ability to teach tactical elements, crucial for every player, in the grass or in the court.

With 5 players a side, and a small court to play, the futsal player has to have a fundamental skill, in order to be able to suceed in the game:Think fast!

Every action that takes place in a futsal court, will happen faster than in a football field. So the futsal player has to deal with several game situations, that requires a correct, fast and skilled answer. If the same player participates in a football match, 11v11 on a 100 meters grass field, he will deal with the same situations, but the time of the response will be slower, making a lot easier for this player.

If you consider futsal a development tool, that can improve a football player with technical and tactical aspects, this tool has to be the center piece of any youth football program. Working with 7,8, 9 years old kids, teaching them futsal and football, you will build a better player, who, in the near future, will be able to play both sports, with excellence.

Going back to the tactical part of the game, futsal gives opportunities for the players to develop tactical aspects such as cover lines, passing lanes, space occupation, game intelligence and set plays, crucial for a good futsal game and fundamental for a high quality football game , making a big difference during the match.

One major point in the discussion, is that some football coaches are adapting training drills and exercises, using less space, looking a lot like futsal. But that´s what the coach will get, similar, at most. Different floor, ball and the rules of the game, makes futsal impossible to be recreated in the grass. You can have 5v5, 7v7 in the pitch, but these are smaller football games, will never give what futsal delivers, which is speed of play.

The importance of futsal goes beyond the individual technique, playing in the court will help to create a better tactical player on the grass. Johan Cryuff, an awesome player and a fantastic football coach, has a great phase: “Coaches are wasting a lot of time to improve the muscles, the fitness of a player, but football is played with intelligence.”







Rodrigo Nunes
Sócio Fundador do Instituto Pensando Esporte

Kid´s transition from futsal to soccer

Over and over the years, we hear that to be an outstanding soccer player, you had to have a futsal background. This can and it is true, and we have several examples to show, especially inside the Brazilian soccer history. But, I want to know the reasons!

Going back to the 70’s, we can list a dozen very skilled players, with a long futsal history. Zico and Rivelino maybe the icons of this generation, and a lot of others players kept this tradition until now.

Talking about the reasons, generally we always hear the same ones. Reduced space, more ball touches, quicker thinking and short dribbling. All of that it´s true. But let´s take this discussion to another level.

We can also look at the European style of training. Lots  of mini games, reduced spaces drills, adapted rules, always challenging the players to seek  different and better solutions to the situations the game presents.  We can see something very similar to futsal. Maybe the Europeans “cracked” the Brazilian secret and applying this method in their youth programs?

If we can recreate the futsal scene on our soccer drills, why we need futsal?

Futsal is crucial to build a great soccer player, that very skilled player, with good dribbling, great finishing, with an outstanding relationship with the ball. Futsal also gives a higher understanding of the tactical game, offensive and defensive, with a better read of the passing lines, slow a counter attack when defending and other several tactical aspects. But we have to go further than the small spaces and more touches to the ball.

The main reason to futsal’s success can be summarized in one concept: Speed of play.

The futsal floor and the futsal ball make the game faster, a lot faster than soccer. You can “build” a futsal court into the grass pitch, same size and everything, but without the floor and the ball, this new game will never be fast as futsal. If the game is fast, the players have to do every action in the game, in a faster way. Passing, dribbling, shooting, man marking, everything is faster on a futsal game.

In Brazil, we have some soccer clubs opening their eyes to futsal, integrating the game with the youth soccer program. Of course the country culture makes this process very easy. I´m certain that, 20 years from now, we will see every major soccer club in Brazil, using futsal as a fundamental tool, inside the youth program.

This statement takes the discussion to another level. And about futsal professional players, and the pro level of futsal, will it die because of soccer? Of course not!

In Brazil, we have so many kids and teenagers playing both futsal and soccer, that the sports can embrace everybody. Soccer has an economic advantage over futsal, so it´s a natural path for the better players choosing the grass route.

But with the soccer clubs developing futsal, we´re going to have more people playing futsal. For the future, with more people playing, the level of the game rises. It´s a win-win solution for everybody. A good futsal program, improving the technical part of the game, can produce better players, for soccer or futsal.



Author: Rodrigo Nunes
Youth Soccer Techinical Coordinator at C.R. Flamengo

Co-founder of Institute Thinking Sport