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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.

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