Futsal rotations: Making Soccer Players (much) Better

By Marcelo Antonelli

Should soccer players learn Futsal rotations? If so, why?

The short answer to the question is very simple:

Yes, because it will make players better! (both on the futsal court and on the soccer field).

It this article we will explain how Futsal rotations make players better and; therefore can be a good tool for the development of soccer players. We will also explain a little bit about the process; its challenges and limitations.


Your soccer (football) team/club coach, or your Futsal coach, wants to teach you Futsal rotations.

But, you are not sure if and how it will make players better. Furthermore, looking at an initial practice, it looks like just a passing pattern, with repetitive movements, no creativity, and not similar to “how it looks” in soccer.

Unfortunately, the start of the process is not a good “cover for the book.” But, it will lead to something completely different: an environment of training very rich, where players’ movement of the ball is smart and effective; where players are reading each other’s positions and combining in creative ways to unbalance the other team’s defense.

During the process of learning how to use the rotations, players will be developing technical, tactical, physical and psychological/communication skills.

We will now present a list of some of the things that players will be learning and mastering during this process:

Common habits during a Futsal rotation:

A. Pass and move

- Almost all rotations will demand the players to pass and move, trying to unbalance the other team.

B. Change direction during the runs

- The futsal court is small, and futsal defenses (if coached properly) are very organized. It forces players to consistently change directions of their runs in order to create space.

C. Recycle runs

- Often times, even if a player changes the direction of a run, the ball is not going to be played, because the other team did not allow a penetrating pass. Because each team only has 5 players, and considering the way that the rotations work, the player will get used to recycling the run quickly and become again a passing option

D. Keep the ball under pressure

- As we wrote before, with the low number of players, a player will receive the ball quite often. And, during a Futsal rotation, the player is expected to be able to keep the ball, even when under tight pressure. Different strategies (e.g. spinning out, dribbling to a side or changing the direction of the dribble) and a variety of techniques will be mastered during this process.

E. Be proficient in 1v1 scenarios

- Multiple 1v1 scenarios will be present, and the player will be developing the capacity to become proficient at it.

F. Combine in creative ways

- While a player can try to find individual solutions, the rotations will be providing the opportunity for an infinity of combinations on the courts. Because of the tight and organized defense, futsal has developed many combinations that are, in general, more sophisticated than those seen in soccer.

G. Communicate effectively (give, receive and follow communication)

- This tight spaced environment, against an organized team, demands from the players sharp individual or collective solutions. Just “kick the ball in behind,” as we often see in (low level) soccer, will likely not work. As a consequence, players are consistently forced to communicate (visually or verbally) in effective ways. As important as giving communication is the ability to perceive and follow communication, and players will be developing these capacities.

H. Read the game well

- This has to do with all of the items listed above. For example, during a rotation, if 2 players make the same run, it will be easy for the other team to pressure and steal the ball. Or, if a player fails to offer support on a side, the same outcome may happen as well. The rotations will demand that the players keep consistently focused, read the positions of all teammates and opponents, and be creative in an efficient way.

I. Time, angles and space.

- During any combination, including the overlaps that are a frequent part of most rotations, the reading of timing, angles and space is key for the success of the play. Skills, as well as tactical intelligence, are required the entire time.

J. Body position and intentional first touch