Introduction to Futsal – The Best Sport

What is futsal?

Futsal is an established worldwide sport in its own right, played both at amateur, semi-professional and professional level. There has been a considerable increase within the perception of the sport and the world wide appeal, that has been supplemented by the fact that many elite football players endorse and speak of its importance to their own development (Futsal UK, 2012)

“Football and Futsal have a lot in common. They share mastering the ball, combining and making quick decisions”
Andreas Iniesta, former Barcelona and Spanish Interational Player.

Futsal is a game that is played in over 100 countries in the world including more than 12 million players (Beato et al. 2016). The sport has gained popularity in the recent years, including the FIFA Futsal World Cup since 1989 (Beato et al. 2016). Furthermore, increased in popularity after the success of the European Championships in Slovenia. A tournament that embraced the debut of an incredibly organised France side; In addition to a Portuguese outfit who displayed a ruthless attacking nature and tactical flexibility to claim the trophy.

The game itself is a intermittent and dynamic (i.e., intense) sport that involves quick actions and precise movements based on physical, technical and tactical parameters (Castagna, D’Ottavio, Vera, & Álvarez, 2009). These parameters are evaluated from an individual’s perception and capability of processing certain visual cues and information from their teammates, the opposition, the pressure on the ball, the ball speed (some example of what, who, and where specific details must have assessed).

The tactical structure of a sport such as futsal is a complex one. The great physical and tactical burden of this sport encourages the continuous analysis of the principles of offensive and defensive play. However, depending on the learning age of the player, and the phase in which they are currently performing within. The tactical element of the game may have less focus due to the players being exposed to specific techniques and principles that require a high level of attention and competitive repetition. Young players have been proven to gain 180% more touches on the ball within their time on court. This may result in players feeling encouraged to a continuously make mistakes, to attempt 1v1 situations, and to socially interact to evaluate the pro’s and con’s of specific situations. Creating an environment that allows for accelerated learning and peer review.

A potential catalyst for the development of futsal could be due to the lack of available football pitches in certain cities and developing counties. The sport was initially developed in South America, Portugal, Spain and Italy. However, during the last decade it has flourished in Asian countries such as Iran, Japan and Kuwait (Berdejo-del-Fresno, 2014).

Furthermore, there has been enlarged discussion and promotion about the increase in participation within futsal at grassroots level to be within Schools. With futsal being played regularly within schools and within a curriculum it may encourage further promotion the sport (Bastos & Navarro, 2009; Costa, 2004). Youth age groups in Spain and Brazil compete within recreational and national school futsal festivals and competitions. Through the use of this format of the game, it is formalised within their education and can be relatable to other invasion games and court-based games learnt during their formative years.

There has been proven research that futsal as a sport could be higher in youngsters’ preferences due to their desire for entertainment (Ilić, 2013) and socialisation (Cavalcante, 2013). I believe this could be due to the nature of the game.

A futsal match is played on a small court (38-42m × 18-25m and Goalposts 3x2m), which causes a constant stress to the opponent (Castagna et al., 2009). The game allows only for 5 players to be active at any time on court (four outfield and one goalkeeper) and for the game lasting two periods each lasting twenty minutes of actual playing time with a break of ten minutes (obviously this is highly dependent on the phase and competition structure of the players, as the time can be manipulated to suit best the players). Within each time period, both teams only have 5 fouls and one time out (a coaching intervention that can last 1 minute).


FUTSAL UK (2012). 10 Reasons to Play Futsal. (Online). Last accessed 11/11/12 at:

Beato, M., Coratella, G. & Schena, F. 2016. Brief review of the state of art in futsal. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 56 (4), 428-432.

Castagna, C., D’Ottavio, S., Vera, J. G. & Álvarez, J. C. B. 2009. Match demands of professional futsal: A case study. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 12 (4), 490-494. doi:10.1016/j.jsams.2008.02.001

Berdejo-del-Fresno, D. (2014). A review about futsal. American Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 2(3), 70
Bastos, P. V., & Navarro, A. C. (2009). O futsal feminino escolar. RBFF-Revista Brasileira de Futsal e Futebol, 1(2), 144-162.

Costa, D. (2004). Desenvolvimento estratégico no desporto: O Futsal feminino em Portugal. Doctoral dissertation, Universidade do Porto, Portugal.

Ilić, J. (2013). Investigation of differeces in sport recreational interests at sample of athletes in early adolescence. In 3rd International Scientific Conference Exercise and Quality of Life (pp. 509-512).

Cavalcante, C. S. (2013). Socializando crianças de 9 à 11 anos através do futsal. Revista Brasileira de Futsal e Futebol, 5(18), 302-307.

Author: James Barlow