Futsal and football have a lot in common. Nevertheless, both sports have enough individual attributes that separate one from the other. In a broader sense, they belong to the same family but require different sets of skills.
Here we will explore the differences between the two and try to determine whether or not futsal is easier to play than regular, outdoor football.
Football vs. Futsal | The Differences
The most striking difference between futsal and football is the size of their respective pitches. An average football pitch has an area of more than 7,000 square meters; which is seven to eight times larger than a futsal pitch.
The smaller playing space makes futsal managers more demanding of their players. You would need to have some nifty tricks up your sleeve to do well in futsal.
Even though there are different player positions in futsal, the differences in the roles they play gets blurry once the match begins. Defence, attack and midfield-outfield players have to contribute to all sectors.
Therefore, futsal relies heavily on individual skills. Team chemistry is an important component too, but you would get more leeway on that regard since there is more scope for a futsal player to influence the game.
Skill, pace, and stamina are crucial attributes for a footballer as well. But, in football, it is way more difficult for a player to seal the fate of a game single-handedly.
Positional tweaks, marking forwards, zonal defending preferences-the tactical changes a football manager implements can make the best use of his/her strengths and nullify weaknesses.
Even if you are a gifted footballer, you might find it difficult to cope with the technical demands of your manager. Mesut Ozil under Unai Emery and Kaka under Jose Mourinho can be cited as prime examples.
Furthermore, futsal also requires a cohesive effort from the team. The manager tries to find the right formula that makes the entire team stick together. But, the quality of a single player can make a massive difference in futsal.
Since futsal is played in a compact space, a tricky futsal player needs less support from his teammate than a footballer would. You can dribble past a few defenders and have an open shot on the goalpost.
This is virtually impossible in football. You rarely see a player easing past defenders on his/her own and finding the back of the net. You must get the players around you more involved.
Futsal matches see a flurry of goals, unlike football. The defenders have less protection compared to football, and their operating range is also more restrained.
For instance, you would often see defenders stopping an attacker with cold-blooded side tackles. In futsal, defenders do not have the authority to tackle like that.
Is Futsal Easier to Play?
Yes, futsal is easier to play than football. You would see a lot of retired footballers excelling at futsal tournaments. On the other hand, futsal stars have found it difficult to transition into professional footballers.
At first, some might find it hard to believe. After all, futsal is more frantic than football. You would need to be in action non-stop, and you would have to be extremely skilful to perform at a high level in such a small pitch.
But football is not only about stamina and skills. You would need to be more in sync with the rest of your team. The playing conditions would be difficult, and you would need to be more intelligent with the ball.
Let’s start with the playing conditions. Futsal matches are held indoors, and often the arena has full air-conditioning. You don’t have to worry about the outside weather at all!
Footballers, on the other hand, do not have that luxury. Professional footballers regularly play under severe weather conditions. The playing condition can have a profound impact on your performance.
You would struggle to get a footing in a frozen or muddy pitch. Sometimes the wind would be so strong that it would change the aerodynamics of the ball and make it hard to anticipate its flight pattern.
If the pitch is not ideal, it would be tough for you to pass the ball. The surface would hamper the progression of the ball and your opponents could intercept it, even though you had timed it perfectly.
Goalkeepers get more freedom in futsal. It is expected that you would concede a sizeable number of goals per game. As a goalkeeper, this would make you feel more relaxed going into the game.
Let’s use a statistic to put the goal scoring trends in futsal into perspective. In the 2016 Futsal World Cup, teams scored 6.77 goals per match. In the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the average goals per match scored were 2.67.
Besides, a goalkeeper would get to play with much outfield authority in futsal. In football, their roles are somewhat confined within the penalty box. But in futsal, they can roam forward and contribute to the attack.
In football, you would often have to make a 40-yard run, which is not an easy task, if you are playing after a while. In futsal, you won’t have to run for more than 5-10 yards at a time.
This turns out to be an excellent aerobic exercise for those who are trying to lose some weight. You would have to make frequent runs, but the momentary pauses after every 5/10 yards, make it less daunting.
Foul throws are quite a common sight in Sunday league football. In futsal, you would not have to worry about making those howlers. Once the ball goes out of the play, you can kick it in.
Due to the absence of offside is the greatest advantage you would get as an attacker. No need to assess your position and time the run perfectly to avoid the linesman’s annoying whistle.
In fact, there are no linesmen or secondary referees in futsal. Two referees officiate the match from the side-lines. There is one referee on either half of the pitch.
Back to offsides again. In futsal, you have the freedom to stay anywhere on the pitch. Need to catch your breath? No worries, you can chill by the opposition goalpost and if the ball comes by, you are welcome to score!
An unlimited number of subs and timeouts in each half makes it easier for futsal players to cope with the fatigue. Whereas football players play halves of 45 minutes, the duration of a futsal game is only 40 minutes.
The match is split into two 20-minute halves. In each of the half, each team has the option to take a one-minute break. This gives the players ample time to recuperate.
On top of that, you can introduce all the substitutes you have on the bench. Usually, there are nine players on the bench, but some competitions allow as many as 12 players.
So, player exertion in futsal is far less minimal than football. Therefore, it can be a magnificent physical activity for people of all ages. It is a fun way to stay in shape.
Many recreational players are not fans of heading the ball. Studies suggest that regular heading of a football might lead to concussion over time.
Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer has highlighted the need for making the balls more head-friendly to reduce head injuries and traumas in footballers.
If you are not using a high-quality football, you are at risk of developing a concussion at some point in the future. Plus, there is always the harrowing chance of clashing heads while trying to win a ball.
Thankfully, futsal has none of that. Futsal is fundamentally a foot-based sport and the height of the goal bar pretty much makes heading obsolete. The ball mostly stays at levels where you can engage with your feet.
However, there is no explicit restriction to head the ball. If necessary, you can touch the ball with your head. But from a tactical point of view, it would not give you any particular advantage.
To get ideal traction and support, football boots are a must while playing football. You would be playing in a variety of pitches, so a pair of boots that are up for the job would do you a world of good.
However, football boots don’t come cheap. Moreover, it offers zero practicality outside the football pitch. You won’t see many people showing off their premium silos on the street, cause they are not casual material.
You don’t need any dedicated footwear for playing futsal. Your pair of slippers would do just fine. If you try wearing football boots on the hard surface of a futsal court, you would barely catch a grip.
Both football and futsal are entertaining pursuits. But, if you are trying to find a casual pastime and trying to get back to optimum fitness, futsal would be the ideal low-stress activity to take up.