What is Futsal? How Is It Different From Football?

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Football is the world’s most popular sport. It is played by millions of people of all ages in every corner of the globe. And yet, there is one version of the game that remains largely unknown: futsal. You’ve seen the courts, you’ve heard of the sport, but you’re wondering, what is futsal?

Futsal is a fast-paced, 5-a-side game that is played on a smaller field with a heavier ball. It is an exciting and challenging sport that requires quick thinking and precise passing. In short, it is the beautiful game at its best.

We’re here to give you the lowdown on this fast-paced, intense indoor game and give you all the info you need to decide if it’s the game for you.

What is futsal?

Futsal is a 5-a-side game that is played indoors on a hard surface (usually a wood court or tiled floor).

The game originated in Uruguay in the 1930s, and today, it’s played all over the world by both men and women of all ages.

While futsal shares some similarities with football, there are also several key differences between the two sports. Here’s a quick overview of what makes futsal unique.

What’s the difference between football and futsal?

Size of the field and goals

One of the biggest differences between futsal and football is the size of the pitch.

A regulation futsal pitch is approximately 20m x 40m, while a regulation football pitch is much larger at minimum 110m x 70m (and can be even larger).

This smaller playing area in futsal results in a faster-paced, more intense game. Additionally, the goals in futsal are smaller than in football, measuring 2m x 3m compared to 8m x 2m.

Number of Players and Substitutions

Another key difference between futsal and football is the number of players on each team.

In futsal, each team consists of 5 players (4 field players and 1 goalkeeper), while in football, each team has 11 players (10 field players and 1 goalkeeper).

There are unlimited substitutions in futsal, so players can come and go as they please.

In football, on the other hand, each team is limited to 5 substitutions per game.

Duration of the Game and Ball Type

The duration of a futsal game is typically 20 minutes per half, while a football game is 90 minutes long.

This shorter playing time means a faster and more frantic game! Where more goals are typically scored than in an 11-a-side game.

It’s not uncommon for teams to score 10+ goals in a single match!

Another key difference between these two sports is the type of football used.

In futsal, a smaller, heavier ball with less bounce is used; this forces players to use their feet instead of their heads and chests to control the ball.

Football boots/Futsal Trainers

Futsal players don’t wear traditional football boots, instead they tend to opt for a flat-soled indoor trainer or futsal boots.

This ensures maximum grip and control on the court so that they can move around quickly and sharply.

Football boots, however, are designed with studs to give players stability on grassy or artificial surfaces.

Watch and learn: What’s the difference between futsal and football?

Here’s a great video that shows you what the difference is between futsal and football or football and why you should think about playing it in between football seasons.

Why play futsal?

Futsal is more than just another version of football; it is a unique and exciting sport in its own right.

What we love about futsal is that it can hone and develop the skills you need to be a winner in any game. Here are four reasons you’ll love it too:

1. Futsal is Fast-Paced and Action-Packed

If you’re looking for an exciting, fast-paced experience, then futsal is for you.

With fewer players on the pitch and a smaller playing area, there is less room for error and more opportunity for slick skills and quick counterattacks. The end result is a thrilling game that will have your heart pounding from start to finish.

2. Futsal Develops Skill and Technique

Because futsal is played with a heavier ball on a smaller court, it forces players to develop their technical skills.

Dribbling, passing, and shooting all become more difficult in futsal, which means that players have to be quicker and more accurate than they do in other forms of football.

As a result, futsal players typically have better footwork and ball control than their 11-a-side counterparts.

3. Futsal Promotes Creativity and Individuality

In futsal, players are often required to think on their feet and make split-second decisions.

This encourages creativity and individuality on the field as players look for new ways to beat their opponents.

If you’re tired of seeing football teams play “Kickball,” then you’ll love watching futsal where players are free to express themselves and show off their skills.

4. Fustsal Teaches Teamwork and Sportsmanship

While individual creativity and skill are encouraged in futsal, team work is still essential to success.

Players must learn to work together quickly to create scoring chances and defend against counterattacks.

This fosters a sense of camaraderie among team mates and teaches important life lessons about working together towards a common goal.

What is futsal? What are the 3 basic futsal skills infographic.

Dribbling

Use both feet for controlled, dynamic play.

Passing

Keep the ball moving quickly for on point playmaking.

Shooting

Get past defenders and find the corners of the goal.

What are the 8 rules of futsal?

Futsal is one of the most exciting sports out there, and there are eight rules that help keep it running smoothly:

#1 Each futsal team has five players, with one designated as the goalkeeper; plus, each player is expected to take turns in this role.

#2 Subs occur while play is still going on just like in a game of hockey.

#3 Offsides don’t exist in this version of football – so passing wide and playing up front are essential!

#4 No punting from the goalkeepers is allowed or else a free kick will be awarded to the other team.

#5 Slide tackles are strictly not permitted as you can only regain possession by staying on your feet.

#6 Throw-ins are replaced with placing a ball on the floor and passing it back with your foot instead.

#7 Free kicks and corners, all opponents should be at least five yards away from the ball.

#8 During penalty kicks, everyone has to stand behind the ball besides the penalty taker (except the referee of course!).

With these rules followed you can look forward to an awesome game of futsal!

Futsal FAQs

Is futsal harder than football?

Futsal and football are both challenging sports, which means it’s not easy to call which one is harder. That really depends on who you ask!

Some people may argue that futsal requires more agility and involves playing in smaller groups, making it trickier than football.

On the other hand, those who love football might point out that since there’s so much space available, players need to think faster and guess their opponents’ next moves earlier, presenting a bigger challenge.

Ultimately, all that matters is how hard you work – if you’re dedicated to perfecting your game in either sport, with enough practice and patience you could become an unstoppable force!

Is futsal the same as 5-a-side?

Although they sound similar, futsal and 5-a-side are actually two distinct sports.

Futsal is an indoor, five-player football game that is fast becoming a very popular indoor sport. It’s fun and fast-paced, with a heavier ball and smaller goals than in traditional outdoor football.

5-a-side is also based on five players but is usually played on artificial grass like 3G and 4G pitches. The size of the pitch is usually much bigger than in futsal, and the ball is lighter and easier to pass.

Both sports are great for improving technique, agility and teamwork skills.

How long is a game of futsal?

The game is played in two 20 minute halves – so prepare for a fair few minutes of fast-paced action!

International level games typically run for around 80 to 90 minutes in total, due to stoppages from the countdown clock whenever the ball is out.

Why do futsal keepers not wear gloves?

If you’ve ever watched a futsal match, you probably noticed a few things that make it different from traditional football – including the noticeably absent gloves on the goalkeepers!

Traditional gloves used by football keepers can make gripping and throwing the ball difficult, so to make it easier, many futsal keepers simply opt to go without.

That also helps give an advantage when using their feet as an extra defender. So there you have it!

Futsal doesn’t involve bulky gloves for its keepers for one simple yet effective reason: it makes their job much more manageable.

What is not allowed in futsal?

Futsal is an exciting and fast-paced game, but it has to be played by the rules in order to keep the game fair. There are a few things that aren’t allowed in futsal:

  • You can’t touch the ball with your hands
  • You can’t slide tackle or obstruct players who don’t have the ball
  • You can’t kick or trip players from behind
  • You can’t kick the ball over head height
  • You can’t hold any opponents’ shirts
  • No shooting from within the goal box
  • No headers
  • No throw-ins

The final score.

Whether you’re a seasoned football player or someone who’s never stepped foot on a pitch before, give futsal a try!

This fast-paced sport is loads of fun and an excellent fitness workout.

With its smaller playing field and fewer players, it’s also a great way to improve your footwork and ball control skills. Who knows—you might just become hooked!

This article was written by

  • Anna Adams, Creative Director & Content Lead

    Hi there! I'm Anna Adams, your go-to source for all things women's football. I've been crazy about football for over 20 years, ever since I was kicking a ball around with my brothers as a kid. I've turned my passion into a career where I get to share all the cool stuff about football with you. As a content lead, I've had the awesome opportunity to work with various sports brands and publications. Whether it's the latest gear, pro tips, or just some cool football trivia, I'm all about making f...