The Benefits of Futsal. Much has been made recently of the technical benefits of futsal – more touches on the ball, smaller spaces to make quicker decisions, and more opportunities to shoot, leading to improved finishing. On top of this, it is played with a relatively heavy ball on a flat surface, with the ball being on the floor more as a result. Participants can take advantage of this to develop oriented control, helping them to manipulate the ball in a particular direction and space. Put simply, the list of futsal benefits seems almost endless.
At ProFutsal we have moved to the grass in recent times for our academy, and have put step 5 and 6 football teams to the sword in the adult format. What we find fascinating is what happens post-U8 in football.
Academy Head Coach at Pro, Jon Kurrant, who was part of Arsenal’s set up until the age of 16 before being full time at Charlton and playing professionally at Aberdeen, had this to say about his experience:
"I was very lucky to be picked up in an academy setting at a young age. I
started playing organised football at U9, and got into the academy
environment at U11. I was in that kind of environment until I was 20."
"I was a good passer of the ball and good at reading the game as a holding midfielder defensively, but I became specialised as a holding midfielder/right back from a very young age and became pigeon-holed there. Even as a professional, I was simply an average footballer at 18-20 because from U14 onwards I never developed as much as I have developed in my adult life as a futsal player.
"I see this as a partial consequence of the football format. At 7 years old, leagues at grassroots level become organised competitively (albeit
without the score), and is 5v5, which is a similar format to futsal. However, at U9, the format changes to 7v7. Only two years later, at U11, it moves again to 9v9, and then a further two years later it takes the step to 11v11 at U13, which is where it stays for the rest of the participants’ lives in competitive football.
"When you break down 11-a-side football, it's made up of lots of playing as a ‘2’, playing as a ‘3’ and playing as a ‘4’, which mimics futsal. However, there are big differences, which stem from a lack of touches of the ball that footballers get from U9 upwards due to the increase of players, as well as the decisions they make becoming a lot more blurred and them not getting the depth
of understanding of how to exploit space as a ‘2’, a ‘3’, or a ‘4’, or in a whole host of scenarios. This is because the picture gets a bit more complicated for someone so young who has not spent more time to learn the nuances of 5v5.
"This transmits to pigeon-holing players into positions. Most grassroots clubs do not get enough time as it is to go really in-depth in how to exploit space as an individual, a pair, a three and a four, so when you move to 11s at U13s – which I found to be the phase when you can really start introducing direct tactics – it's a case of a system overload for footballers.
"On a personal level, I have never learned more than I have over the last two years, and I’m now 31. I attribute this to how our Manager Juan Tapia-Owens has defined and implored exploration of exploiting space in possession and restricting it out of possession. I prefer the format of futsal to football for many reasons, with one being that I am a fair-weather player, I enjoy being warm!
"In my opinion, as much as futsal does enhance technical ability, its tactical components and the depth of learning it enables far outweighs what you would typically learn in the current U13-U16 football environments. Obviously there will be learning objectives in football such as offsides, but other than that, if a footballer is not exposed to futsal, only the very naturally intelligent football players will be able to enhance their knowledge in and out of possession to their maximum potential."
Futsal is fundamental to learning. What do you think? Lets us know!