Soccer vs Futsal

What is Futsal?

Essentially, futsal is a form of indoor soccer played on a smaller court than normal and it has been around since the 1950s. It was originally designed as a training tool but now its main use is as an indoor version of the sport.

The rules are very different from regular soccer and are actually pretty similar to basketball. There are no offside decisions, for example, and the game is played with a clock that stops every time the ball goes out of play.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the biggest differences between futsal and soccer.

Soccer vs Futsal

The Field of Play

This is where a big difference lies between the two games. Whilst soccer takes place predominantly on a large, outdoor field, futsal exclusively takes place on an indoor court which is much smaller.

In fact, whilst the standard dimensions of a soccer field is roughly 136×93 yards, a futsal court is only around 44×22 yards.

The same difference is true of the futsal goals, which are obviously much smaller than a standard soccer goal. Futsal balls are also a size 4, slightly smaller than the standard size 5 for a normal soccer ball.

There are also a lot of different markings on a futsal court that make it look very different from a regular soccer field.

You’ll still find a standard center circle and halfway line but the penalty areas around the goals don’t have corners and form in an almost semi-circular shape at either end of the court.

You’ll also often see two ‘substitution zones’ marked by a couple of lines on touchlines in either half. This is used to indicate where the subs for each team can leave and enter the court.

The Players

The first thing to note about the players in soccer and futsal is that the latter has far fewer of them. While you’d have 11 players on a standard soccer team, a standard futsal team only has 5.

Similar to soccer, the goalkeeper is still an integral position and this player can use their hands to save shots, as long as they’re inside their own penalty area.

Because the court is so much smaller than a soccer field, the goalkeeper in a futsal match will get a lot more involved in attacks, with many keepers scoring in games.

In terms of the outfield players, nothing is really set in stone when it comes to positions.

A team might designate two players to defensive roles and two players to attacking ones but every player on the team is expected to get involved in both defending and attacking throughout the match.

The Rules

Naturally, there’s a pretty big difference in some of the rules that are enforced in a game of futsal compared to soccer.

In terms of things like fouls and handballs, the same rules as soccer generally apply, though there are no studs on the boots of futsal players so ‘studs-up challenges’ are not as serious offenses.

The only real difference here is that slide tackles are not allowed in futsal (except for goalkeepers). This is probably for the best because no one really wants to slide across a hard surface like a futsal court!

The biggest rule absence is probably offside in futsal. This means the striker for one team can hang around right next to the opposition’s goal and receive the ball from a teammate without punishment.

Another major difference is with throw-ins in futsal. In fact, throw-ins aren’t actually a thing at all! Instead, when the ball leaves the court over the touchline, players simply place the ball on the floor where it went out and kick it back into play.

Finally, probably the coolest difference in rules for futsal is that substitutions can take place whenever a team wants, without having to ask the ref first (with the exception of the goalkeeper).

That’s right, if a team wants to make a sub, they can simply tell the player to run off the court through the substitution zone when the ball goes out of play and another player can run on in their place straight away!

The Referees

With such a small court to play on, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for futsal referees to stand in the center of the court.

In fact, rather than having a head referee in the middle of the pitch and two assistant referees or linesmen on the touchlines, futsal has two head referees who run along the touchlines during the match.

These two refs will usually take one half of the field each and both hold as much authority as each other.

This can lead to some situations where both refs blow their whistles at the same time to give the same decision but there will often be plenty of communication between the officials if they ever disagree on a decision.

The only other official in the game is actually the timekeeper. This is a surprisingly important role (usually performed by a volunteer from either team at the amateur level) because the clock must be stopped whenever the ball goes out of play.

The Gameplay

One of the reasons futsal is so popular in the modern-day is because it is so much more fast-paced than a regular game of soccer. This is mainly achieved through the 5-second-rule that applies in all competitive futsal matches.

Basically, whenever the ball goes out of play for a goal kick, kick-in (alternative to throw-in), corner, etc, the nearest referee will count five seconds out loud, in which time the ball must be back in play.

If a team fails to restart the game during these five seconds, the set piece will be turned over to the other team.

This is arguably one of the best differences between futsal and soccer because it keeps the game moving constantly and makes for a great spectacle for the crowd.

Similarly, because the clock is stopped every time the ball goes out of play, there is significantly less time-wasting at the highest levels of the game than you’d expect in professional soccer.

In fact, futsal players tend to have great sportsmanship and won’t bother wasting time at any point.

One other thing to note about the gameplay in futsal is that it requires players to have a completely different skillset to soccer.

In futsal, for example, close ball control and skillful maneuvers are much more important because of the compactness of the court.

For this reason, you’ll often see professional futsal players busting out some pretty fancy skills during a match, whereas you’ll see that sort of thing far less often in soccer.

Which is Better, Soccer or Futsal?

The answer to this question is, of course, largely a matter of personal opinion, though there are plenty of arguments to be made for both sports.

Soccer is said to be a much more tactical game because there is more space on the field and more players, which results in a great variety in formations and positional play.

In futsal, similar tactics and positions are often employed by every team because there aren’t as many options available to coaches for tactical masterclasses.

However, futsal is undoubtedly a much faster, action-packed sport than soccer and tends to display much better sportsmanship at the professional level.


At the end of the day, soccer and futsal are two completely different sports that center around the same theme of kicking a ball into a goal.

However, because there are so many vast differences between the two, it’s impossible to say which one is better for sure.

The only way for you to really find out the answer is to try both games out for yourself!


How many players are there in futsal?

There are 5 players on the field per team in futsal.

How many minutes is futsal played?

There are 2 halves, of 20 minutes each.

What’s the difference between a futsal ball and a soccer ball?

A fustal ball is smaller. Futsal uses a size 4 ball compared to a size 5 used in soccer. Futsal balls have less bounce and are easier to control. They have the sensation of being heavier, but actually weight less. A futsall ball should weigh 390-490 grams compared to 410-450 grams for a standard soccer ball.

How much does a futsal ball weigh?

A futsall ball should weigh 390-490 grams compared to 410-450 grams for a standard soccer ball.

What is the weight of a futsal ball in pounds?

A futsal ball should weigh 0.86 (13.76 ounces) – 1.08 pounds.