Different ways to use Futsal to develop soccer players and teams
By Marcelo Antonelli
As futsal becomes more well known in countries such as the USA, we see more federations, clubs, and parents using Futsal as a developmental tool for soccer players. We often hear that Futsal’s benefits include more touches on the ball, creativity, and quick thinking. These are definitely benefits, but there are many other “cards” that Futsal can bring to the table that we don’t see utilized as often.
In this article, we will look at seven different ways that Futsal can be used for the development of soccer players.
1- Friendly initiation: Futsal has characteristics that make it easy for kids to start developing their skills. The physical layout of Futsal, which includes a smoother court surface and a heavier ball (when compared to soccer), facilitates passing and dribbling and is, therefore, more suitable for early initiation. Chances are, if you are playing Futsal inside of a gym, there will be fewer distractions and easier communication between all involved. Playing inside also allows for more control over environmental variables (wind, rain, temperature, etc ). Of course, the smaller number of players per team is another benefit; however, this part can be easily adapted in soccer as well.
2- Developing passion for a sport: Futsal can help develop one’s passion for a sport. It is suitable for tournaments and championships at early ages. In countries like Brazil, players compete in Futsal at very early ages, which helps them develop a great passion for the game. The competitiveness of the sport drives players to have fun while at the same time putting in the effort to excel from the start. Of note, while there are many advantages to early competition, coaches and parents should be careful to keep the emphasis on fun and development and not on performance or wins.
3- More touches, quick thinking, and creativity: This is the way that most people talk about using Futsal as a tool for the development of soccer. During a futsal match or training, each player will likely touch the ball many more times than they would if on a soccer field. There are a number of resources showing these numbers. Everything is faster on a Futsal court, so players have to develop “quick thinking” skills. In theory, because the futsal court is a smaller space, players have to find creative ways to attack. In practice, it will depend a lot on the environment of play. We will talk more about this later.
4- Teaching concepts: The five players format, with limited space and a fast pace environment, makes Futsal a great tool for teaching soccer concepts. You have enough players to create different lines of players, while at the same time they all have to be engaged the entire time.
For example, you can work on:
Offensively: Finding space between lines, width, depth, mobility, and penetration, second and third runners, recycling runs, changing directions of the runs, variations of target play and a variety of combinations.
Defensively: Zonal or individual defense and everything in between, high pressure, low line of confrontation, closing passing lanes, double teaming, individual approaching and tackling techniques.
The transition from defense to offense: Choice of possession vs penetration, angles and distance of support and penetrating passes.
The transition from offense to defense: Choice of pressuring the ball right away or containing, decision making for the first steps, quick collective decisions.
The environment of Futsal is not only ideal for teaching these and many other concepts but, when combined with high-level Futsal strategies, it is also ideal for creating competitive activities where players can practice these concepts.
5- Futsal “specific” tactics: High-level Futsal strategies have many different combinations, rotations, and strategies that are considered by many to be “futsal specific.” But, if you analyze the concepts within many of these "specific tactics", you will find that they are very effective in soccer as well. Not just that, but, they can contribute to the development of soccer.
An example would be with variations of the give and go (1-2). Futsal brings it to the next level. Options for when the pass is being closed by the player pressuring the ball, or by the player defending the pass, are well explored in Futsal. As a consequence, players get used to evaluating the scenario until the very last second and readjusting their movements as appropriate.
On our website, we will have many free articles and videos showing some of these movements, concepts, and variations. We want to make sure that these ideas are very clear to our readers.
6- Futsal “specific” set-pieces: This is pretty simple to explain. There are so many set pieces that work well in Futsal that can be adapted to and become interesting strategies on the soccer field. Futsal offers great options for a variety of kinds of soccer set pieces.
7- Create an ideal environment of development: This is one of the best, yet least explored ways in which Futsal can help develop soccer players.
In this day and age, in a country like the USA, players with decent coaches can “know” a lot of good “coaching points.” But, they often can’t apply them. In order to not only learn concepts but master them, you need an environment of training where players are consistently required to apply good principles.
You can use Futsal to create this environment.
When this environment is created, players will have to be constantly looking around and moving according to their teammates and opponents. Checking-in and out will be the norm in order to create space, as well as recycling runs or changing the direction of the runs in order to beat the opponent. We could go on and on about different aspects of the game that would be part of this environment (that we could call “good soccer habits”).
But, the question is: How can we create this environment?
The book “Soccer Powered by Futsal” gives you the complete picture on how to create this environment, but we will also have articles on our website that will go more in-depth about this specific topic.
As you can see, there are many different ways in which Futsal can help the development of soccer players and teams. Some of these ways are more well known than others.
Stay tuned to our website and social media for more specifics about each of these ways, and we promise that we will present innovative ideas, strategies, and concepts that will get you thinking.
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