Why is soccer the world’s most popular sport? It is a question that taxes even the most expert brains. Perhaps it is the simplicity of the game. All we need to get started is a ball. But other sports can also be played with the minimum of accoutrements. It is a team game, but one a side – a keeper and a striker – can still provide hours of fun. At the same time, kids’ games in the park might feature twenty on a team, players leaving and joining as teatime calls or homework is finished or mom decides it is time to come in. Yet there are many, many sports that can be played in teams of virtually any size.
Some commentators point out that one of the defining joys of soccer is that its goal, that is, scoring one, is a rare occurrence. It’s like Christmas. Everybody loves it, the food, the presents, the old films on TV but if it was Christmas every day, well the thrill would soon diminish.
But in soccer, certainly at the high levels, to score three times in a game is unusual, and to net more than three times is rare. Equally, there may be games where our team fails to score completely. Thus, the theory of deferred gratification applies. On the rare occasions that a goal is scored, the thrill is all the greater for having been so long in coming.
Futsal is different. Goals are more frequent for a start. That is not necessarily a bad thing, especially with youth and kids’ teams. Give a kid their favorite ice cream, and they will want another one as soon as they have finished the first. The pleasure of deferred gratification? Get real, and just hand over another scoop of the creamy chocolate stuff, and don’t hold back on the sprinkles.
Futsal also offers the advantage of providing a warm environment for training and matches when winter falls and the cold sets in. Good coaches will take advantage of this to adapt their team’s skills and drills to the new game. Futsal is faster than traditional soccer; despite the less bouncy ball, the hard surface makes the requirement for good technique even more important. The smaller area in which to play means that space is often tighter, in spite of the smaller team sizes.
Each of the following drills develops skills that are key in both futsal and the eleven a side version of soccer. Although they stand alone as drills in themselves, coaches should aim to encourage their use in game situations. That way, they will make more sense to players.
Shielding the Ball in Futsal
This futsal drill requires three outfield players and a goalkeeper, and it is intended to develop a player’s ability to protect the ball. There are two offensive players and one defender. The ball is played into a teammate, who must shield the ball from her defensive opponent for two seconds. This player then lays the ball off to their teammate, who shoots to score.
- Passer plays the ball firmly along the ground;
- Receiver makes a dummy run towards goal and then drops back as the pass is played, creating a little space;
- Possession is retained by shielding the ball with the body, staying at right angles to the ball and defender to ensure maximum distance between the two.
- Defender attempts to win the ball, then prevent the shot;
- Shooter aims to time their run so they can shoot first time.
- Introduce more decision making by allowing the received to decide whether to pass or shoot themselves;
- After the drill, analyze with the players the success of their decision making.
(Note: In the diagrams the red lines indicate movement of the ball, and the blue lines movement of players.)
Futsal Tight Turn
This futsal drill aims to create space for a shot when defending is tight. As above, four players are required although the initial pass could come from the coach. The receiver stands at arm’s length from the defender. The ball is played into his feet; the defender stays close. The striker aims to create space turn and shoot.
- The pass should be firm and along the ground;
- The receiver moves towards the ball;
- Her body position is low, on the half turn;
- The pass is controlled with the outside of the leading foot – this takes the pass slightly away from the defender, creating a little space;
- The striker swivels and shoots with their other foot.
- Here, the striker allows the defender to make physical contact by abruptly stopping their own run towards the pass;
- They then use the defender as a ‘wall’ to lean against with their own shoulder, gaining them extra purchase on their turn;
- The movement serves to put the defender off balance and create more time;
- The striker then has time to take a touch before shooting.
Futsal Drag Turn
This drill works well when the defender is very tight and there are other players around. It works as the drill above, except the ball in is taken with the inside of the foot rather than outside. The ball is then dragged with the instep of the foot goalwards. The player turns and shoots or passes.
One Touch Passing – The Heartbeat of Futsal
This improves touch and speed of pass, A small grid, say six meters by six meters is used. There are six players arranged around the outside. The ball is passed with one or two touches across the grid. After making the pass, the player moves.
- Passing technique is crucial. Keep low;
- Arms for balance, striking the ball with the instep;
- Head over the ball to keep it low.
- Once the team are competent with the skill, introduce one or two defenders. turns the drill into a rondo activity (i.e., one where sides are weighted) which are excellent for working on skills with a degree of pressure.
A One Two Game
In the narrow field of the Futsal pitch, one twos are an excellent way to create space. The drill works a little like ‘shielding the ball’ above. However, the pass off is played immediately. The original passer runs down the wing after their pass. They receive the return, then shoot or cross for their partner to score.
- The first pass is firm;
- The passer communicates where they are making their run;
- The lay off pass is a mere deflection of the ball, played with the instep. Pace is already on the pass;
- The defender firstly closes down the receiver, then moves to try to prevent the cross/shot;
- The receiver turns and runs to get into a scoring position.
- Once players are competent, the drill turns neatly into a full five a side futsal practice match. However, the coach puts limits on the game, such as a maximum of two touches in the opponent’s half, first time passing or shooting in the box.
As with any drills, the focus should be on short but intense sessions, with plenty of repetition. When playing quickly with good technique becomes second nature, players are on the road to improvement.
Here’s a few more drills that you can use:
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