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How Futsal Can Improve "Target Play" in Soccer

Updated: Sep 3, 2019

Target Play is one of the most important components of Futsal, and often you will see a variety of high-level combinations on the courts.

As a consequence, players with a background in Futsal may have an edge in “Target Play” over soccer players without the same background. Also, soccer players should take advantage of the many “cards” that Futsal brings to the table.

This article will explain it more details. Also, we have prepared some videos for you showing what we explain here.

Target Play in Futsal

The principles of "Target Play" are very similar in Futsal and Soccer (combining with a forward back to the goal); however, some variables can make it easier or harder to attack when comparing the sports:

The smaller space in Futsal makes it harder to attack. The smoother surface of the court and the smaller and firmer ball make it easier to develop combinations in Futsal.

We also have to consider that the fewer number of players and space on the Futsal court will make it more likely that players have more opportunities to be involved in the process, and, more often than not, Futsal teams are trying to connect with their target in order to attack.

What are the consequences of this environment?

High-level Target combinations.

Now, don’t think only about the “Target Player,” the center forward or “Number 9” in Soccer. Target Play is a process that involves many moving “parts.”

Soccer Powered by Futsal has divided “Target Play” into 5 main parts. In our book, we break each part down in detail. Here, we will provide you with a general idea.

1- Finding the target

2- Target movement

3- Target technique (including turns)

4- Runs towards the target

5- Target connection with the runner

Let's talk a little bit about each part:

1) Finding the target: Futsal players are often under pressure. Still, they need to be able to see where the target is, and find ways (individually or collectively) to make the ball arrive to the target. They may use a change in the direction of the dribble, a counter-movement, a quick combination, a flick, a body fake or many other strategies.

2) Target movement: The layout in Futsal requires the target to learn to move in a very smart way. Timing is key. The target must look to time his movements with the possibilities of the teammates finding the penetrating pass.

3) Target technique: Keeping the ball away from the defender is fundamental. Being able to maintain possession of the ball and still see the runs coming around is also a must. Staying sideways in relationship to the defenders can be a great advantage, and turning is a much desired ability.

4) Runs towards the target: Runs must be early, sometimes, even before the target receives the ball. The key to success if changing directions and recycling the runs. Players get used to developing the capacity to see where the defenders are and “tricking” them in creative ways.

5) Target connection with the runner: As a general rule, in Futsal, the target can’t rely on having much space. The runners know this. So many creative passes can be developed. And, again, the timing is key. A futsal target also uses a variety of techniques to keep track of where the defenders are and connect effectively.

Now, we can answer the question of how Futsal can improve Target Play in Soccer:

Just look at the lists and videos above. They all have capabilities that can be used in Soccer.

One could argue that in soccer the scenarios may be different. Indeed, in a game of soccer, each “Target Play” scenario may be more or less similar to scenarios normally seen on a Futsal court. But, it does not take away the fact that a player who plays with good Futsal strategies may have an edge in technique, creativity and tactical awareness over players who did not.

Even on the soccer field, Target Play can occur in tight scenarios. When one team is “packing up,” the opposing team waits for an opportunity to penetrate by rotating the ball in the offensive field.

We often see this happening when we watch “The Champions League.” We see players with different styles playing the “Target position.” Some are the classic tall strong players who tries to hold off defenders, others present a more mobile style, trying to create space. Amongst these, in the current days, we would like to point out that Roberto Firmino (from Liverpool) finds all kinds of different connections with Mane and Salah, including many elements that are very characteristic of Futsal (e.g. Little and Little Back, from the lists above).


Futsal has a lot to bring to the table in terms of Target Play. From early ages, players can start to develop technical as well tactical skills on the Futsal courts, including the ability to read the game, and apply these abilities on soccer fields.

If you are a soccer coach, you should definitely consider understanding most of the cards that Futsal can bring to the table, and develop ways to make your players and teams be able to take advantage of them. For examples of activities on how to implement these capacities in your training, our book ,“Soccer Powered by Futsal,” shows a complete sequence of training sessions leading to a high-level environment of play, which includes high-level Target Play combinations.

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Very thoughhtful blog

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