Futsal is a skilful and high-intensity game played by ten players on an indoor court with a heavy ball. Here, FA youth coach developer, Ian Bateman, explains why Futsal is the perfect game for indoor training over the winter period.

1) If you are taking your team indoors for winter training, getting them to play Futsal is a great starting point.

The constraints of the game itself will draw out lots of positive returns: technical, tactical, physical, psychological, social and more. By playing the game and keeping the time and the score, the players will get excited by it and are likely to play with intensity and it will answer any questions of: “when are we having a game?”

2) The constraints of the game itself help with player development.

For example, take the rule that the ball cannot be passed straight back to the goalkeeper after it has been distributed. Straight away it means the game is in an under-loaded situation of 4v5 in favour of the defending team and players in possession have to deal with receiving and keeping the ball under pressure. Simply playing 5v5 in tight areas is not easy and the players will enjoy the challenge.

3) A Futsal ball has very little bounce, so it is easier to control.

At the top level you will see players receive the ball with the sole of their foot, allowing them to manipulate it quicker. Rather than stopping it and then getting it out of their feet, they can shift it in one go and they can manipulate it through 360 degrees really quickly.  With players receiving the ball with the bottom of their foot, the ball speed between players can be quick – and is actually quicker than football.

4) Futsal helps develop intelligent defenders.

Because the ball is easier to control, defenders have to be patient and clever when defending. The rules dictate that you only have five fouls per team per half, so it deters players from giving fouls away – on the sixth foul they give a penalty away. Defending in Futsal is a real skill and all comes as a result of the ball that is used.

5) The beauty is you only need one ball to get going.

A Futsal ball might cost as little as £10. Quite often there are markings on an indoor floor that can be utilised and you can be creative with how you use the goals. If you don’t have Futsal sized goals, 5 a-side goals are fine – just add in cones to narrow them off.  When you are working with younger players, 5 a-side goals may actually be better because they are lower and sometimes the Futsal goals are too high for U6s and U7s.

6) Different sized Futsal balls bring different returns.

U7s should play with a size two or three but also might benefit from some time playing with a size four, as it will help with control as the ball will move slower. The trade-off is that all the passes will have to be short. Similarly, older players working with a size two may find it more difficult to control the ball because of the decreased surface area.

7) Working indoors can provide a wider variety of learning opportunities.

An indoor facility allows you to put the learning objectives and session plan up on the wall. If you want the players to write feedback or ideas up on a chart you have the opportunity to do so. Sometimes the weather outside can rule out these aspects of the coaching process. Working indoors also allows the coach to take their time rather than just feel they need to rush through the session to keep the players warm.

8) Sometimes lots of footballs in an indoor facility can be chaotic.

Given that Futsal balls don’t bounce – and you don’t need many of them to set up the game and start playing – it can be much easier to manage the environment. Also, by working indoors means you can manage your equipment better. Balls aren’t continually being kicked out of the area meaning you can have more action and play.

9)  There is very little stop and stand still.

Because Futsal is such a dynamic game, one of the ways to get the main learning messages across is by letting the game ‘run’ and to coach during breaks in the play. We don’t encourage much stopping and standing whilst the game is underway. One of the key messages from the new Futsal awards is to let the practice or game run, have a quick chat with the players when they are on the sideline (see below), and then let them go again.

10) Opportunity to coach the players who are resting.

Because there are lots of changes to the personnel on court at any one time there is an opportunity to coach the players who are on the sideline.  Sometimes football coaches are uncomfortable with all the players not being involved in all parts of the session. But with Futsal being such a dynamic game, the players want – and need – to rest. It affords the coach time to talk to the players about their own individual targets and challenges and also what they have observed in the game. Players might only work in two or three minute blocks so the intensity of the game stays consistently high.

Ian Bateman is an FA Youth Coach Educator specialising in Futsal.