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Creating Space: How to Beat the Pressure


Effective movement of the ball to beat the pressure and create space is a highly desirable quality for a soccer player. Futsal, when played with certain levels of strategies, can be a great tool for helping soccer players develop these qualities.

Because of the difference in the environment, high-level Futsal usually displays a much more sophisticated level of movement of the ball compared to a soccer match.

A player with a background in organized Futsal may have more refined tools for beating the pressure, compared to players without the same background. Also, you can use Futsal strategies to improve your small-sided games on the soccer field and better prepare your players to face situations under defensive pressure.

Finding ways to beat the pressure

We hear from coaches all of the time during training sessions, at a variety of levels (from young club teams all the way to division 1 college soccer): “check-in, check-out”, or “check-away, check-to”. Different coaches have different ways to say it. “Move away and move back”, “one movement for you, one for the defender”… and many other variations.

But, what exactly are the coaches saying? Why do they want these movements? And how do they want the athletes to get it done?


I am sure that what the coaches want is not a mystery to most people reading this article. They want players to create space to receive the ball. In this specific case, the goal is to make a movement, followed by another movement in a contrary or different direction, in order to gain time/space to receive the ball away from the opponent.

Of course, a player does not always need “2 movements.” A player may find an “empty pocket of space” on the field: maybe between opposing lines, or even just between opposing players.


A player needs to create a movement like this when wanting to receive the ball, while under pressure from an opponent.


This is the key point of this article.

We see often coaches working on this during passing sequences (analytical approach). No opponents, only cones to help players try to learn where to go and what moves to complete.

We also see coaches trying to create an environment where pressure will be applied with game-based methodologies (for example, a 3x3 or similar in a tight space). Some coaches will go a step further and control the defensive behavior of the players, for example, defining individual high pressure against each opponent.

Still, coaches don’t always achieve their desired outcome. We can’t just “blame” players for failing at it. It is important to understand the process and its challenges. And, in order to help, we will explain how Futsal can provide another step forward towards this goal.

Futsal environment of play and strategies

If you want to develop good individual or collective solutions against high pressure on the player who wants to receive the ball, there are a few aspects that you should consider:

- You need the defense to high pressure the options around the ball

- You need players able to read the spaces and find individual solutions

- You need players able to read the spaces and find collective solutions

- Sustaining possession against high pressure will help players develop their capacities to create space.

Organized Futsal can answer all of these demands. The mix between the tight spaces of the games, the size of the goal, and the defensive strategies that were developed in Futsal, demands that the offense adapt and find solutions to break down the defenses.

As one of the “individual” solutions, in Brazilian Futsal, the most known term for “check-out and check-in” is “dar o gato.” The literal translation for this is “apply a cat,” referring to the agility and speed of a cat’s movements. This term is widely used in Futsal, but it is also used by some soccer coaches in Brazil. “Dar o gato” is incorporated as a normal part of the play, and players become proficient at it.

However, the solutions go way beyond it. Organized and high-pressure defenses are a normal part of Futsal. As a consequence, teams need to find ways to maintain possession against this kind of pressure, and penetrate at the right moment. Some of the requirements to succeed at this task are: consistently movement of the ball, recycling runs, exchanging positions, and many other “good habits.”

Thus, Futsal rotations were created. The concepts are similar to your passing sequences, but you can actually keep possession against full pressure, and it will demand from the players a variety of tactical capacities related to reading the game and reacting quickly. During the execution, players are always looking around, reading the defender, and making quick changes of directions in order to penetrate or at least create space to keep possession.

We will talk more about the rotations in a different article, but similar to other elements of Futsal, the rotations will foster the development of both individual and small group solutions to solve the problems presented.

Also in another article, we will talk more about how Futsal strategies can be adapted and used during SSG (small sided games) on the soccer field, in order to enhance the training.

To finish up this article and give some video examples, let's focus on a few other “solutions” often used in Futsal in order to beat the pressure.

Examples of Futsal Solutions

It is important to understand that the “moves” that we will present here are not like “set-pieces” or any other type of movement “set in stone.” Think about a 1-2 (give and go, wall pass). Your players may apply it during the game, when they read a scenario and believe that it is a good moment to use it as a combination/way to connect/break a line. The same reasoning applies to all the “strategies” or “solutions” presented below.

“Check-out:" (Check-in check-out, 2 movements, feint, "Dar o gato", etc.): This strategy was already discussed earlier in this article. This is the classic movement consisting of 2 shorts runs, in different directions, in order to create space. When comparing this strategy in Futsal and soccer there is no real difference in concepts. Futsal only offers an ideal environment for the development of this kind of movement.

“See-saw (Balanco): Imagine a 2v2 scenario. A player passes the ball to the other and checks forward. The defender runs back to defend. The player that initiated the run returns back to the original place. The other player does the same. And the scenario repeats itself, until the defenders do something different and the players attacking decide to try to penetrate. We will give you a glimpse into this in the attached video, and in another article and video a more full explanation. The important part is to think of this as a tool to develop a player’s capacity to read the opponent and connect.

Take-off (Saida de Pressao): In order to “escape the pressure,” sometimes players “take-off,” meaning, move away from the ball, not necessarily wanting to receive the ball directly from the player with the ball, but aiming, initially, to create space for a 3rd player to receive the pass.

Switching Positions (Off Ball Rotation): Imagine that the player who took-off realizes that they are not going to receive the ball, so instead, recycles the run, while the 3rd player takes the position of the player who took off. Basically, they are exchanging positions without the ball, in order to create space to receive the ball.

These are just a few of the Futsal strategies that players can learn and master while under pressure on the Futsal courts. These principles can then be transferred and utilized on the soccer field. If you would like to implement them, our book Soccer Powered by Futsal can guide you through the process.

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