Soccer has to be played indoors at a specific time of year in many parts of the world. A climate that is too hot or too cold can make outdoor play less enjoyable and even dangerous.
There are two sports that teams play indoors when the weather outside is less desirable — indoor soccer and futsal. The two may appear the same to someone who has never played. However, indoor soccer and futsal involve different equipment and play with distinctive rules.
This guide will help you understand the difference between the two sports, so you can decide which (if not both) you prefer to play.
Table of Contents
- Is futsal the same as indoor soccer?
- What is the difference between indoor soccer and futsal?
- Similarities between futsal and indoor soccer
- Pros and cons of futsal
- Pros and cons of indoor soccer
- Why you should play either or both
Is futsal the same as indoor soccer?
Futsal and indoor soccer both combine many of the elements of outdoor soccer, but they are not the same. The most obvious difference is the smaller, low-bounce ball used in futsal.
Other differences include field size, field composition, the number of players on the field, game duration, and more. Players are often surprised to find that futsal and indoor soccer are much different than they appear at first glance.
What is the difference between indoor soccer and futsal?
Despite the many differences between futsal and indoor soccer, both sports can improve a player’s outdoor game. The following are the most significant differences between the two sports.
Field size and playing surface
The Futsal playing field is smaller than an indoor soccer field. It measures a minimum of 82 feet by 49 feet or a maximum of 138 feet by 82 feet.
The size of a traditional indoor soccer field is approximately 200 feet by 85 feet.
Indoor soccer fields are turf and specifically made for the sport. Futsal takes place on a basketball court or other hard surface. It is played on a court without walls, while indoor soccer fields include walls. The ball can be passed, dribbled, or shot off the wall in indoor soccer.
The ball is the first difference players notice when playing futsal versus soccer. Futsal involves the use of a specific ball that is smaller and denser. Indoor soccer requires a size 5 ball, while the futsal ball is size 4. The ball design prevents excessive bouncing so players can develop skills.
The futsal ball is easier to receive but more difficult to pass or shoot than a traditional soccer ball. The smaller size requires players to be more accurate in striking the ball in its “sweet spot.” Players who practice passing and shooting a futsal ball in the off-season head into outdoor games with more power and confidence.
Players wear different footwear when playing indoor soccer and futsal. That’s because the fields are different materials. Futsal requires indoor soccer shoes without cleats to protect the surface of the court.
Indoor soccer players use special cleats designed for turf. It is important to note that not all outdoor soccer cleats can be used on indoor turf. Cleats designed for indoor soccer vary based on the type of artificial grass or turf used. Players should assess the surface on which they will play before choosing cleats.
Futsal includes several rules that are unique to the sport. In futsal, players are substituted on the fly, not during a stoppage. A futsal team can have up to 12 players on the bench, and substitutions can happen at any time. Indoor soccer only allows three substitutions per game.
Futsal goalies also need to adhere to certain rules. The goalkeeper only has four seconds to play the ball once it’s in their possession. Once the goalie releases the ball to a teammate, he may not touch it again until an opponent touches it. This rule was created to keep the goalkeeper out of play until the opposition touches the ball. Outdoor soccer teams find this rule difficult, as they may pass the ball back to the goalkeeper to change the direction of play.
A futsal game is shorter than an indoor soccer game. According to the Federal International Football Association (FIFA), futsal takes place in 40-minute matches with two 20-minute halves. Halftime is a 15-minute break. The clock stops when the match is interrupted or the ball is out of play.
Professional indoor soccer matches are 60-minutes long. The time is divided into four 15-minute quarters with a 3-minute break between quarters and a 15-minute break at halftime. Amateur league games include two 22-minute halves.
The ball is out of play if it goes over the touchline in futsal. The team with possession only has three seconds to set the ball (without it moving) and kick the ball back into play. This rule can be tricky because the ball is difficult to set on a basketball court or other hard surface. Indoor soccer does not have out-of-bounds lines, so this rule does not apply to “indoor.”
Number of players
Four field players and one goalie are on the field at all times during a futsal game. Indoor soccer includes five field players and a goalie.
Similarities between futsal and indoor soccer
On a technical level, the sports of futsal and indoor soccer are different. However, the two have several similarities due to their origins in the sport of soccer. The following are some similarities between the two.
- Futsal and soccer do not play with the offsides rule.
- Both sports use a smaller field/court than outdoor soccer.
- Indoor soccer and futsal are both fast-paced and action-packed.
Pros and cons of futsal
Soccer players and coaches note many pros and cons of futsal. The following are the most common advantages and disadvantages of futsal when compared to indoor soccer.
Pros of futsal
- The smaller, denser futsal ball promotes superior ball control. Coaches agree this helps quell bad habits and develop skills.
- Wall bouncing does not occur in outdoor soccer. Futsal helps players practice keeping the ball inbounds as they would when attacking on an outdoor field.
Cons of futsal
- A significant negative coaches see for futsal is that the games are shorter. The ball can also go out of play, reducing the time players have to practice and develop.
- Players and coaches may develop the negative tactic of kicking the ball out of bounds to delay or stall the game. This can result in less practice time for all players.
Pros and cons of indoor soccer
The debate of which sport, futsal or soccer, is better will likely continue forever. Players and coaches all have their reasons for choosing futsal or indoor soccer as an off-season skill development tool. The following are common pros and cons of indoor soccer.
Pros of indoor soccer:
- Indoor soccer is often more fun to watch because of the unique techniques associated with using the walls. Walls are used for passing, dribbling, and scoring.
- The ball is the same as is used in outdoor soccer. The transition from outdoor soccer to indoor soccer is also generally easier than the transition to futsal.
- Indoor soccer games are longer, and the walls keep the ball in play longer. This means more time for skill development.
Cons of indoor soccer:
- Players may become comfortable using the walls, which may encourage sloppier passes and shots. It may also result in less precision near the touchline in an outdoor game.
- Defenders can’t practice tactics that involve the end lines and touchlines, because they don’t exist in indoor soccer.
- Indoor soccer fields are more difficult to find than courts that can be used for futsal.
Why you should play either or both
Despite the advantages and disadvantages of each sport, players and coaches around the globe agree that playing futsal and/or indoor soccer can help develop skills during the off-season. Both sports are action-packed and are fun for players and fans alike.
Ask your coach about creating an indoor soccer or futsal team to ensure you’re ready to dominate the next outdoor soccer season.