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Fantastic Futsal, Part 4: Futsal Formations

It’s that time again! Did you miss us? Well, in any case, welcome to the fourth installment of our blog series in which we seek to unravel that glorious game called futsal. This week we’re discussing formations – you know – those crazy squiggles and shapes that you would barely pay attention to when your coach would diagram them on a whiteboard. Yeah, those things. Well, in this week’s post and related video, we promise not to bore you. Ryan makes formations and tactics actually exciting! So watch the video below to see him in action.

For those of you who are not so visually-inclined, I’ve summarized Ryan’s video in an easily digestible written form.

There are 4 main formations in futsal. Traditionally, when we name futsal formations (just like soccer formations), we do not include the goalkeeper as that position is simply a given.

First, we will tackle the 2-2. The 2-2 has two attackers and two defenders. Because this position lacks a central defender, it is susceptible to attacks through the middle. To defend against these potential counterattacks, it would be wise for the four players to play in tight central positions. And then when transitioning to the attacking phase, the players should try to move to wider positions. The 2-2 is a good formation for beginners who just getting used to futsal, but after gaining some experience, players will usually realize it’s flaws and switch tactics.

The 1-2-1 formation consists of a defender, two wingers, and a target man/forward. This formation more closely resembles 11-on-11 soccer and creates a more fluid type of passing game. With this formation, there are two ways you can attack. Option number one is for the defender to make passes out wide to the wingers and then make surging runs forward into the empty space, trying to create an overload or number advantage on the opposition. If this option isn’t possible because the wingers are being marked closely, the second option is for the defender to make a longer pass to the target man and then have the wingers make runs past him.

At first glance, the 3-1 formation looks a lot like the 1-2-1 formation. However, upon closer examination, it’s clear that the three players at the back are lined up much flatter and more defensively. Hence, this formation lacks true wingers, meaning that the three defensive players are looking to the make the pass up to the forward. If the forward is creative and tricky enough, he or she will take defenders on 1-on-1 and try to score goals individually. This is ideal because it allows the three other players to stay back and defend. If the forward isn’t able to do this, two of the defensive players must come forward along the wings to make runs and make themselves available for passes from the forward. In this case, this formation very much resembles the 1-2-1 formation, but is still a little less attack-oriented.


The last formation we will discuss is the 4-0. Now, this is a little bit of a misnomer because this formation does not mean there are 4 defenders and no attackers. It actually means that the four players on the pitch are constantly rotating. This fluidity makes it very much like basketball. This formation embodies the “pass-and-move” mentality. As soon as one player makes a pass, he is thinking about where to go next to find space. Professional futsal teams seem to prefer this formation because it gives them the fluidity and creativity they crave. At any given moment, you may see teams that play a 4-0 formation in the shape of a 2-2, 1-2-1, or 3-1 formation. However, this only happens because these shapes are just natural byproducts of play during the course of a futsal game. These formations are not static, in which one player remains defensive or wide or forward throughout the entire game. Because of the fluidity that the 4-0 promotes, Ryan recommends this formation to players as they gain more experience with futsal. Remember, the ultimate goal of futsal is creativity and movement, so you should strive for non-static formations!

Whew, that was a long one! Tactics and formations are just so darn exciting, I got a little carried away with myself.

Fantastic Futsal, Part 3: Futsal Positions

We’re back again, folks! This is the third part of our blog series in which we investigate that wonderful game of futsal. Today we’re going to talk about futsal positions. If you’re the sort of person who learns best with visual aids, then check out Ryan’s video below. He uses a whiteboard and magnets to diagram what I will write about.

So, in futsal, there are 5 players for each team – 4 outfielders and 1 keeper. The goalkeeper, besides the obvious duty of preventing goals, takes part in the attack as well. This means that he or she should be mobile and good with his or her feet. This is unlike 11-on-11 soccer, where the keeper is much more of a stationary figure. The centerback/defender/pivot acts as the quarterback, looking to set things up. As he or she is the first to receive a pass from the keeper and is in the best position to see the whole field, he or she directs the gameplay. The two wingers operate on the left and right sides of the field. As the touchline limits their playing area, they will ideally be good at maneuvering in tight spaces. They should also be fast and have good stamina in order to meet the demands of bombing up and down the flanks. The forward/target should be comfortable playing with his or her back to goal. This means that this player should have the strength and physicality needed to hold off the defender. The forward should be able to shield the ball from the defender and then either turn and shoot, or lay off a pass to a teammate charging forward. Futsal Positions Even though I’ve just listed these futsal positions, please do not think they are set in stone. Futsal is much more of a fluid game than traditional soccer. Think of it as being a lot like Dutch Total Football. This means that futsal is a game all about constant interchanging and movement between positions. For example, if the defender makes a forward run, one of the wingers should move into his vacated space to cover for him. This style of play is based on the idea that every player should play every role at some point in the game. Futsal is best played with a “pass and move” style that rewards versatile players who know how to play multiple positions. This fluidity is what makes futsal both so enjoyable and instructive. Futsal is a much faster-paced game than 11-on-11. Everyone is constantly active and there is nowhere for players to hide. Futsal players must always be thinking about what move to make next and where they can best help their team. This type of thinking fosters the creativity and split-second decision-making that is so crucial in soccer. Well, that’s it for this installment. I hope you enjoyed it. Join us next week when we delve deeper into futsal strategy and discuss the finer points of futsal formations!

Fantastic Futsal, Part 2: Benefits of Futsal

We’re back! This is Part Two of our blog series about futsal. This week, we will go over the many benefits that this sport provides to its players. The video that goes along with this post can be found below. Now just because there’s a video doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t also continue reading!

The first advantage of futsal is the ease of finding a place to play. You can play indoors or outdoors, as long as your location has a relatively flat playing surface. Basketball courts, tennis courts, grassy fields, or any type of open space will fit the bill just fine. Any type of open space will work, so don’t worry too much about finding the perfect futsal field. Just get out there and play!

The second benefit of futsal is the speed of play. The pace of the game is a lot faster than 11-on-11 soccer. The average player makes 60 decisions with the ball in each game of futsal, whereas in full-fledged soccer matches, players typically make only 20-30 decisions. The higher frequency of these split-second decisions in futsal can dramatically improve your game.

The third and perhaps most significant benefit of futsal is the creativity that it fosters. The smaller dimensions of the futsal court require that players make changes in their styles of play. With the tight spaces of the futsal court, there is nowhere to hide. You are forced to take players on and try to beat them 1-on-1. In this way, players learn to seek out, rather than avoid, confrontation on the pitch. Futsal inspires players to beat their defender with a nifty bit of skill instead of making the obvious pass. These skills you acquire from futsal are applicable on the soccer pitch as well. This claim is backed up by the success of international soccer superstars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Ronaldinho. Much of the dominance these players have over world soccer can be attributed to their immaculate close control and mind-blowing tricks they use to beat defenders. And it is almost a certainty that they first acquired these skills not on the soccer pitch, but from maneuvering in small playing areas in their respective countries.

Player attempting a flick trick

Player attempting a flick trick

Of course, these are just some of the many benefits of futsal. Please share with us any additional advantages you see to playing this fantastic sport!


Fantastic Futsal, Part 1: Futsal vs. Outdoor Soccer

Hey everyone! Welcome to the first post of our blog series that will introduce you to the fantastic sport of futsal. If you’re currently asking yourself, “What in the wide, wonderful world of sports is futsal?”, then make sure to keep reading because this post will answer exactly that question! This post and the accompanying video will explain the basic differences between futsal and soccer.

I won’t go over everything that is said in the video as Ryan does a better job of detailing the nuances of futsal than I can do in just a few sentences, but here are some important points. Futsal is very similar to normal 11-on-11 soccer, except for a few key differences:

Playing field: futsal field is indoors and has much smaller dimensions; it resembles a basketball court

Futsal Court

Futsal Court

Players: futsal has 5 players playing at a given time; 1 keeper, 4 outfield players

Regulations: futsal doesn’t have throw-ins, but rather kick-ins

Time: futsal halves are 20 minutes each; each team gets one timeout per game

Substitutions: unlimited and do not require a stoppage in play


Please watch the video to get a better grasp of how futsal and soccer are related. Ryan does an excellent job introducing the basics of the sport and uses diagrams to make it easy to follow. Watch the video below to get a visual overview of futsal.

Well, that’s it for this week’s post in our futsal blog series. Join us next week when we’ll discuss the many benefits of futsal!