What Is Futsal? (Complete Introduction To Indoor Soccer)

I once saw an interview with a soccer player I admire, Riyad Mahrez. He talked about his fascinating story and what he owes his amazing and unique first touch.

To my surprise, he credited futsal for his comfort on the ball.

I did play futsal when I was younger, and when I reflected on it while staring at my Adidas samba shoes, I realized how impactful this sport was for my development.

And this is why I wish every soccer player reading this to start their futsal journey…

But first, what is futsal?

Futsal is soccer played indoors on a court-like surface. It’s a fast-paced, skill-intensive variant of soccer played with 5 players per team with slightly different rules.

What Is Futsal?

Futsal is a fast-paced, skill-intensive variant of soccer, played mainly indoors on a smaller court with five players per team.

Because it is played on a hard surface, futsal players need specifically designed futsal shoes.

Originating in South America, it emphasizes close ball control and footwork, quick reflexes, and creative play.

How is it Different From Regular Soccer?

The Court

What is futsal: a visual representation of a futsal court.

Futsal players play on a court instead of a field or turf, meaning it’s a hard court surface.

A futsal court is a scaled-down version of a soccer field, slightly bigger than a basketball court. The court is a rectangle-shaped area of 40 meters wide by 20 meters long. The goalkeeper’s box is 6 meters long.

Although the out-of-play rule is the same as soccer, futsal courts are sometimes surrounded by walls or boards.

The Equipment

what is futsal: List of equipment needed for futsal

The Ball

Futsal utilizes a size 4, low-bounce ball, specifically designed for the sport. This special ball, smaller and with less rebound than a standard soccer ball, allows players to demonstrate refined control and skillful maneuvers in tight spaces.

The Gear

The gear in futsal is the same as regular soccer, with your standard shin guards, socks, jerseys, and shorts.

The Shoes

Because the game is played on a hard court surface, using cleats is useless. Instead, futsal players have special shoes for the sport, known as futsal shoes.

The Nets

Futsal nets vary from regular soccer nets. They are 3 meters wide by 2 meters long.

Playing Futsal…What Are The Rules?

The team composition in futsal also varies markedly. Each side includes five players, with the goalkeeper (4 outbound players).

Futsal is a fast-paced and aggressive game, largely due to its smaller court and unlimited substitutions.

This rule allows for a continuous flow of fresh energy, and the players require lots of fitness and conditioning.

The standard yellow and red cards are present in futsal. Corner kick rules, goal kick rules, free kicks, and indirect free kick rules are all the same.

The only rules that differ from regular soccer are:

  • Futsal is played for 40 minutes, 2 halves of 20 minutes.

  • There is no additional time, but no time lost either. The clock stops when the ball is out of play.

  • Slide tackles are not allowed in futsal and are considered foul play.

  • There is no offside rule in futsal.

  • A red card means 2 minutes of numerical disadvantage (or until the opposing team scores).

  • Goalkeepers have 4 seconds to play the ball.

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Why You Should Play Futsal?

Because futsal, or indoor soccer, is played differently from regular soccer, it develops foot skills that you cannot develop simply by playing the outdoor game.

There are numerous skills you can obtain by playing Futsal.

Benefits of futsal in a list form

A Better Touch

One of the most significant benefits is the remarkable improvement in ball control.

Futsal’s fast-paced nature and confined playing space demand precise control of the ball, meaning this sport forces you to have maximum control under pressure.

In futsal, there is no space for strong, exaggerated touches. Therefore, you must always control the ball in the perfect weight, as close to you as possible.

Better Dribbling Skills

The sport is also an excellent platform to develop footwork skills. Since futsal involves frequent one-on-one situations in tight spaces, players naturally enhance their dribbling, passing, and tactical movements.

These foot skills are not just beneficial for futsal but are transferable to outdoor soccer, making you a more versatile and competent player in both arenas.

Better Conditioning

Because futsal is played on a basketball-sized court, it does require a lot of back-and-forth running.

A defending play can turn into an attacking opportunity in no time, and therefore you must have the lung and muscle capacity to deal with the conditioning of this sport.

I remember my first time playing futsal, I gassed up quicker than anybody else and felt ashamed. I guess I underestimated the sport. It is a demanding, yet fun way of playing soccer.

Better IQ

Generally (and speaking from experience), soccer IQ is how good you are at problem-solving, and problems come from pressure.

Futsal, because it is a pressure-heavy game, encourages players to become more inventive and creative on the court. The need for quick thinking and adaptability in the face of constant, close-quarters opposition creates creative players.

Whether you’re an aspiring soccer star or just looking to improve your game, I suggest you sign up for a futsal league during winter to develop these skills that you can’t develop on your own.

Some Futsal Facts

Origin and Growth

Futsal originated in Uruguay in the 1930s, created by Juan Carlos Ceriani.

It quickly spread throughout South America and eventually gained global popularity. Today, futsal is recognized and governed by major sports organizations like FIFA and the Asociación Mundial de Futsal (AMF).

Best Player Recognition

Ricardinho from Portugal is often hailed as one of the greatest futsal players of all time.

Known for his exceptional skill, agility, and creativity on the court, Ricardinho has won numerous awards, including being named the Best Player of the World Futsal Awards multiple times.

Top Teams

Brazil has long been considered a powerhouse in futsal, with its national team winning multiple FIFA Futsal World Cups.

The Brazilian team is renowned for its skillful play and has produced many of the sport’s top players. Spain is another dominant force in futsal, having won several European and world titles.

Brazil is also the most successful team in the normal soccer FIFA World Cup...maybe it has something to do with their players’ involvement in indoor football…

Influence on Famous Footballers

Many renowned football players, like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Neymar, credit futsal for significantly developing their skills during their youth.

The tight spaces and fast pace of futsal helped hone their control, agility, and quick decision-making, which later translated to success on the soccer field.

Final Thoughts

While futsal is fairly different from the outdoor game, I do suggest soccer players start playing futsal to improve their skills.

As I mentioned, playing futsal makes you a better athlete, and it happens to be tremendous fun. Skilled, fast-paced, and physically demanding, it does tick all the boxes for an amazing sport.

When I played futsal, I quickly realized how much improvement I needed, which was the wake-up call I needed to improve my soccer.

Now all that’s left to do is to try it for yourself!


What is the difference between soccer and futsal?

Soccer is played on a large outdoor field with 11 players per team, using a standard soccer ball. Futsal is played on a smaller, indoor court with five players per team and a smaller, low-bounce ball.

What countries play futsal?

Futsal is played worldwide, with significant popularity in countries like Brazil, Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Italy, Russia, and Iran. It’s also growing rapidly in other regions, including Asia and North America. There is a Futsal World Cup as well.

What is the meaning of a futsal game?

Futsal is a variation of soccer played on a smaller field (usually indoors) with five players per side. The term “futsal” combines the Spanish words for ‘hall’ (sala) and ‘football’ (fútbol), reflecting the sport’s indoor nature and football-like gameplay.

Why do people play futsal?

People play futsal for its fast-paced, skill-oriented gameplay. It emphasizes ball control, quick decision-making, and tactical play, making it an excellent tool for skill development. It’s also popular for its accessibility and can be played in various settings, including urban environments.


UEFA.com. (2023, December 2). What is futsal? A beginner’s guide: Under-19 futsal euro. https://www.uefa.com/futsalunder19/news/0262-1083b0377aa6-a225624d90ad-1000–what-is-futsal-a-beginner-s-guide/

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