Futsal is an official sport within FIFA’s system and is rapidly growing in popularity due to the exciting nature of its matches. Both futsal and 11-a-side football share core principles, with the primary objective being to score goals while preventing the opposition from scoring.
Although they operate on similar principles, there are significant differences between futsal and 11-a-side football. These differences greatly impact the style of play in futsal compared to the 11-a-side game. In this article, we will explore these differences and how they shape the distinct style of futsal.
Rules of Play
Futsal has distinct rules of play compared to traditional football. For newcomers to futsal, it may take some time to become familiar with these new rules. The important futsal rules that differ from 11-a-side football are detailed in the graphic below:
There are several differences in the rules between the two sports, but the three most significant are:
a) Ball type used
b) Court dimensions
c) Goal size
Let’s take a closer look at these differences.
Official futsal matches use a size 4 ball (compared to size 5 used in regular football for adults) with less than 30% bounce. The ball is a crucial aspect of the game. It is smaller, heavier, and has less bounce on the playing surface compared to a standard football. This allows for better ball control and enables players to execute more complex movements on the smaller court.
The standard futsal court size is 20m x 40m, significantly smaller than an 11-a-side football field. The illustration below provides a visual comparison between the two types of courts. The futsal court is approximately 1/8th the size of an 11-a-side field. A single 11-a-side player would cover an area approximately four times larger than a futsal player.
So, futsal players often engage in shorter passes, actively move in tight spaces, and have closer proximity to the goal, allowing for scoring opportunities from various positions. On the flip side, it also means less space for ball control, requiring futsal players to develop exceptional individual techniques.
The standard futsal goal size is 2m high and 3m wide. This is significantly smaller than a regular football goal:
With such dimensions, futsal goalkeepers do not face as many difficulties in reaching any point within the goal frame. Consequently, scoring goals in futsal requires greater skill and trickery from players if they want to deceive the goalkeeper.
Differences in Playing Style: Futsal vs. 11-a-side Football
Now that you understand these differences, how do they impact the matches? What can we expect from futsal games? Let’s compare data from the UEFA Futsal Euro 2016 and the English Premier League 2014/15 season. The following statistics represent the average per match:
Some interesting differences are highlighted below:
The average number of goals per futsal match is more than double, despite playing half the minutes and having smaller goals.
Futsal matches feature more shots, proportionally similar to shots on target compared to regular football.
The conversion rate of shots into goals is lower in futsal (23%) compared to regular football (31%), possibly due to the smaller goal size.
Futsal has fewer fouls but a comparable number of yellow cards compared to 11-a-side football.
These statistics are based on a limited sample of matches (20 matches) and may not be fully representative of all futsal games. However, they do shed some light on the unique nature of 5-a-side football matches.
The differences outlined here are not surprising. With smaller courts and less space, teams are forced to rely on more passing, players have to be more involved, touch the ball more frequently, and have more opportunities to shoot. Overall, futsal matches are faster-paced, more intense, and more captivating. These elements contribute to the allure of futsal.