Even though futsal is an evolved form of football, you can spot significant resemblances between futsal and basketball. This is particularly true when you compare the positions on the pitch. Since it is a five-a-side game, futsal positions do remind one of basketball positions.
While the setup does bear a resemblance to basketball, in-game movements in futsal are more reflective of its roots in football. In this article, we will discuss common futsal positions and cast light on how players in each of these roles execute their duties.
List of Futsal Positions
Futsal players line up in four different futsal positions. These are as follows:
- Target Player
However, you have to be mindful of the fact that futsal is way more dynamic than football since it is played in a smaller pitch. So, players often have to switch between their designated roles to cope with the game’s fluidity. Managers often tweak their systems and modify futsal positions.
It is needless to say that goalkeepers play a crucial role in a futsal team. In fact, their responsibilities are not limited to protecting their own goalpost in futsal. They also have to play an active part in initiating counterattacks and switching the play in an instant.
You can argue that this is a job, modern football goalkeepers also do. The ball-playing and distribution abilities of the likes of Manuel Neuer, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Alisson, and Ederson have been instrumental in their respective team’s success.
But, in futsal, the attacking contributions of a goalkeeper is not a plus, it is rather mandatory. A goalkeeper must release the ball to proper channels as soon as he/she gets it. In doing so, he/she starts the attacking transition and supplies the ball to players higher up the pitch.
Goalkeepers are best positioned on the pitch to see the play unfold. So, it is imperative that they have astute leadership abilities. They need to organise their teammates into a comprehensive unit and make the best use of their visual advantage.
The goalkeepers can touch the ball with their hand in the designated area. The keeper needs to have great reflexes and agility to prevent the opposition attackers from scoring. The latest futsal rules permit the goalkeeper to abandon the goalpost and fly forward.
Doing so is quite a risky approach since the goalpost will be left unattended. If the team loses possession of the ball, the opposition can exploit this vulnerability and punish them for such recklessness. However, this desperate attempt is often necessary, when the team is trailing.
Therefore, the keeper needs to have as much control on the ball as any outfield player. This also explains why goalkeeping is often seen as the trickiest of all futsal positions. The keeper must practice going forward in the training session for employing this tactic successfully.
In their own area, the goalkeeper can’t keep hold of the ball for more than four seconds and receive back-to-back back passes from a teammate. However, these restrictions are not eligible when the keeper moves out of the penalty area.
Target player is the most advanced of all futsal positions in terms of pitch positioning. A player playing as the target or pivot would operate closer to the opposition goalpost than any other player. Attacking is the primary responsibility of a target payer.
That said, the manager could often ask them to contribute more defensively. To become an effective target man, a player must have the ability to hold off defenders. He/she should also be capable of taking the ball under control and pulling the trigger.
One of the most common plays we often see in the game is that the keeper dispatching the ball to the pivot. Upon receiving the ball, he/she releases it to a winger. Since the pivot distracts the opposition defenders, it frees up space for players playing in wider futsal positions.
This, of course, puts the wingers in a better position to score. So, besides goalscoring, you would also expect the target player or pivot to create scoring opportunities for teammates playing in other futsal positions. The pivot-winger connection is instrumental in unlocking opposition defence.
Many times, the pivot would have to receive the ball with his back turned on the opposition goal. So, he/she needs to execute a perfect 360-degree turn to ward off defenders and take a goalbound shot. Players occupying other futsal positions must make runs in attacking channels to support the pivot.
The pivot demands physicality more than any other futsal positions. He/she needs to stand up to the challenge and take on one or two defenders at a time. Of course, being technically gifted also helps. But, being physically commanding is the utmost priority.
If the manager feels that the wingers on his/her team are better at exploiting 1v1 situations and pose a greater attacking threat overall, he would use the pivot to free up space and allow the wingers to surge into attacking channels.
In modern football, wingers have become the most potent attacking threat instead of out and out strikers. Do they bear similar attacking significance in present-day futsal positions? Yes, the flanks are becoming more and more important as attacking outlets in futsal as well.
However, you would not always see two designated wingers on both flanks in a futsal game. Sometimes, the manager chooses to deploy only one winger and prioritises other futsal positions. This is often done to solidify the defence.
You would see two wingers lining up on opposite flanks as well. This is more of an attacking approach and gives the team more options going forward. A winger needs to have a flair of trickery to beat defensive barriers and have ample pace to outrun defenders.
As we said earlier, the importance of the winger-pivot connection in breaking down defensive blocks is indispensable. They would exchange swift one-two passes between them, and when the opportunity comes, they need to charge forward and apply the finishing touch to an attack.
Wingers will play alongside the touchlines and accommodate room for other players to rush forward. After receiving the ball, they need to evaluate the situation and decide whether or not they should cut in and take a shot at the goal. If not, then, they should set the pivot up for goal.
You would need to put in more effort physically than any other futsal positions playing as a winger. A winger has the authority to move around the entire court and has to track back and support the defence. He/she can also neutralise opposition wingers by blocking their paths of progression.
To be able to do all this, wingers must have incredible levels of stamina. They would need to surge up and down continuously and would barely get a chance to catch a breath. If the wingers of a team have lacklustre fitness levels, it would make the team suffer immensely.
Defenders are the ones who provide defensive cover for the goalkeeper. A defender needs to maintain a clear line of communication with the goalkeeper and the other defender. He/she needs to time the tackles accurately so that he/she doesn’t end up giving away fouls.
Since there are no specialist midfielders in traditional futsal setups, defenders can play the role of makeshift midfielders. They play deeper in the pitch and can spot the positions of the target player and wingers more easily.
The lighting fast transition of futsal requires all futsal positions to be versatile. In the blink of an eye, a defender might experience role reversal and find himself/herself assisting the winger or the pivot. So, the defender must be ready to deputise an attacking player when necessary.
How Many Players Can Come On As Subs?
You can introduce all the players you have on the reserve bench at some point of the match if you want to. You are allowed to have 12 players maximum on the bench. The number could be fewer, but under no circumstances, it will be more than 12 reserve players.
There are no restrictions as to how many wingers, goalkeepers, pivots, or defenders you can have on the bench. You can have 3 players on each position, if you want to have equal backup options on all positions. Or you could arrange the bench as per your coaching preferences.
This high number of reserve players make futsal particularly easy for amateur players. You have enough players to rotate and limit the game time for each player to 10-5 minutes. Therefore, it can be a great sport for those who are working their way back to full fitness.
The futsal positions discussed here reflect the most an interpretation of the game of futsal. These could change into different forms to accommodate the philosophy of a manager. All sports evolve from their fundamental shape, and futsal is no exception to that.