100% youth soccer coaching

A better game than football?

What is futsal?

Futsal is an exciting, fast-paced, small-sided football game that is played by thousands of adults and children across the world.

Many of the top world-class footballers played futsal as children and credit it with supporting their footballing development. Players of the calibre of Pele, Zico, Ronaldinho, Kaka, Lionel Messi to name but a few of the South American legends all played and enjoyed futsal.

But futsal has not just helped produce South American football stars. On the European stage, Cristiano Ronaldo, Deco, Xavi, Fabregas among many others play futsal to develop their skills.

“Futsal was important in helping to develop my ball control, quick thinking, passing… also for dribbling, balance, concentration… Futsal was very, very important, no doubt.”
Pele, World Cup Winner: 1958, 1962 and 1970

While it is a sport in its own right, futsal does not compete with football but serves to support it by developing skills that will make children better players, both on the football pitch and the futsal court.

The benefits of futsal for young players

Futsal encourages young players become more agile, faster, stronger and have better balance. It also helps youngsters become more comfortable with the ball and give them lots of opportunities to practise passing, dribbling, turning, shooting and ball control while under pressure.

Compared to football, futsal demands more versatile players. It’s normal for every player to play in every position on the field during the course of a game. Futsal players are not labelled as defenders, midfielders or attackers like they are in football.

Young players will also touch the ball many more times during a game of futsal than they do even in mini football, they will pass more often, shoot more and score more goals. They will also practise their skills in far more 1v1 situations than they will experience in traditional football.

The nature of the game of futsal places a large emphasis on technical skill and ability in situations of high pressure, and is subsequently an excellent breeding ground for football competencies that can be transferred to the seven, nine or 11-a-side football.

Futsal also encourages young players to make quick decisions while under pressure and in tight spaces and have better spatial awareness.

In addition, futsal is primarily an indoor sport, which means young players can continue their development during the winter months when outdoor surfaces are not available due to poor weather conditions as well as during the summer during the traditional football “off season”.

All this combines makes futsal a fantastic development tool for your players!

How to play futsal

This cut-down version of the rules is all you need to get started:


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ball: U12s play futsal with a special, low-bounce size three ball. The low bounce encourages players to play football where it’s supposed to be played – on the floor! But if you don’t have a futsal, you can play the game with a slightly deflated soccer ball.

Number of players: Five per team, including the goalkeeper.

Flying substitutions: All players but the goalkeeper can enter and leave the playing area as they please. Goalkeeper substitutions can only be made when the ball is out of play and with a referee’s consent.

Ball out of play: Futsal is played to lines, not the walls. When the ball goes out of play it must be kicked back within four seconds. If not, the kick in is given to the other team. Players must be five yards away from the ball.

Corner kicks must also be taken within four seconds and the goalkeeper only has four seconds to release the ball if he/she collects it in open play.

Length of match: A futsal match consists of two 20-minute periods that are played real time, i.e. the clock stops when the ball goes out of play.

Time-outs: Each team is allowed a one-minute time-out in each half.

Sliding tackles: Sliding tackles are not allowed in futsal.

Futsal really is a great game. It’s tremendous fun, fast and child friendly.

The complete rules of futsal according to FIFA

Watch Ronaldinho play futsal

Watch Japanese girls play futsal

Do you have any comments about this newsletter or football coaching in general? If so, I’d love to hear them! Please contact me at www.footy4kids.co.uk

Steve Watson, editor