The difference between futsal and indoor soccer

The difference between futsal and indoor soccer

Futsal and Indoor soccer may seem similar

They are very different though. Futsal is a FIFA approved small sided game of soccer. It's just one of many 5-a-side variants. I would say it's the most popular version though, being included in the Youth Olympic Games.
Futsal is increasing in popularity. It's a great option for many players to experience something different. Chances are it will also increase their soccer ability.
Indoor soccer & Futsal share the same basic principles of Soccer. You have a ball and you work as a team to put the ball in the opponents goal past the goalkeeper as much as possible.
Despite sharing the same basic principles, Soccer, Indoor Soccer & Futsal all play different and there's many reasons why
Keep reading to see the differences between futsal and indoor soccer as well as the benefits playing each variation will provide.

Comparing Futsal & Indoor Soccer Rulesets

The rules of futsal are very clear since every competition uses the official FIFA rules.

Indoor soccer on the other hand is slightly inconsistent. Each competition tends to have a slightly different rule book. We're using IndoorSports Victoria Rules in this article.

Players in each team:
Futsal - 5-A-Side (+9 Substitutes).
Indoor Soccer - 5-A-Side (+3 Subsitutes).

Game Time:
Futsal -
40 Minutes (2x20 minute halves).
Indoor Soccer - 40 Minutes (2x20 minute halves).

Futsal - The clock stops when ball goes out of play.
Indoor Soccer - Some competitions may have added time. Clock only stops in last 30 seconds of each half.

Futsal - 1x 1 Minute timeout per half.
Indoor Soccer - 0 timeouts.

Futsal - Rolling subs 
Indoor Soccer -
Subs can only be made when a goalkeeper has the ball

Game Restarts (Out of play):
Futsal -
Indoor Soccer - 
Depends on the competition, some will do drop ball, others will do a goal kick.

Goalkeeper starts:
Futsal - From goalies hands
Indoor Soccer -
  There's very rarely any goalkeeper stars in indoor soccer.

Backpasses to goalkeeper:
Futsal - One backpass allowed in own half.
Indoor Soccer - Unlimited but goalkeeper is only allowed the ball for 5 seconds.

Foul Play:
Futsal - Maximum of 5 per half. Every foul after that is a direct free kick for the opponent.
Indoor Soccer - This follows the same rules as normal soccer. No extra set pieces for fouls. Booking system is the same as 11-a-side soccer too.

Red Card Suspensions
Futsal - Futsal has an interesting ruling on red cards. Sent off players can be subbed and are able to return to the pitch after 2 minutes or after the opponents score.
Indoor Soccer - 
Again, Indoor soccer follows the same principles as normal soccer. The player cannot return to the pitch and will suspended for at least 1 match.

Restart Time Limits:
Futsal - 4 Seconds
Indoor Soccer - While indoor soccer doesn't have any restart time limits. It does have some incredibly wacky timed rules.

Futsal - 2 On-field Officials and 1 Off-field official which is the equivalent to a 4th official in soccer. Pretty much a timekeeper.
Indoor Soccer - 1 On-field referee which controls the game from on the pitch.

If you're playing indoor soccer, it's best you ask the tournament organiser for the rule book so you can read through.

Most if not all Futsal leagues will run FIFA's official rule set. You can read the full rule book here.

Futsal uses a different ball

As the game is played on a hard surface, a normal soccer ball would bounce a lot. This would make a game of Futsal a lot more messy. Futsal is seen as a high paced, technical game that's played on the floor.
The ball used in Futsal is a size 4 ball. They also reduce the bounce of the ball by 30%. Because of this the ball should only bounce once, if it does bounce twice it will be very close to the ground.
I believe that the ball is what makes Futsal so good. It's slightly smaller being size 4, harder and moves on the floor a lot faster. This allows for the high tempo passing and dribbling game that is futsal.

Recommended Futsal Ball

Select Futsal Mimas Senior Soccer Ball

Recommended futsal ballThe need for a futsal ball may be some what rare. Most times that you'll play futsal will be part of a tournament where balls are supplied.

That being said, you may head to your local futsal courts and play with friends or take your own ball to training. 

Select have made this ball with futsal in mind. It's a size 4 ball with a butyl bladder made to bounce less. It's a very high quality ball although it does come at a cost. 

The Select Futsal Mimas design isn't for everyone. It's a bright yellow/green combination with stars all over the ball. I like how it looks but I know many people don't.

You can read more about the Select Futsal Mimas Ball on

A Futsal pitch is almost 9 time smaller than a full 11-a-side one.

There's 2 major differences between a futsal pitch and a normal pitch. First of all, you have the size. The dimensions of a futsal pitch should be between 38-42 metres long and 20-25 metres wide.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out the other difference is the surface. Normal soccer games are played on normal grass or even 3G artificial grass. Futsal is played on a hard surface often made up of wood and vinyl.

Having such a small pitch and a hard playing surface allows futsal to play incredibly fast with only 5 players on each team.

This is why futsal is held highly in regards to developing technique and close control. 

Indoor Soccer pitches are somewhat similar to Futsal pitches.

The recommended dimensions for the indoor soccer pitches are 60 metres long and 25 metres wide. Indoor soccer is played on artificial grass which allows for  carry over to real soccer matches.

One thing that doesn't carry over to normal soccer is the ability to bounce balls off of the side walls/fences while trying to beat your opponent. Overall indoor soccer should transfer better to your actual soccer ability.

Which is safer? Futsal or Indoor Soccer?

Both have some element of danger. They're contact sports and people will be making standing tackles trying to win the ball back.
Futsal is much safer though, at least in terms of the rule book. In futsal shoulder charging is frowned upon and teams are only allowed to commit 5 fouls a half before being penalised heavily. Because of this players are more likely to jockey you and wait for you to make the mistake, rather than being brash and jumping into a silly tackle.
If you trip or fall over the ball you'll be playing on a hard surface so that will hurt more on a futsal pitch.

What is better? Futsal or Indoor Soccer?

I suggest trying out both variants. Futsal is a game that will develop your close control, first touch, ability to beat players and even your passing.
Indoor soccer on the other hand will help increase your stamina and I believe the skills will transfer better into normal soccer. Futsal is played on a hard surface and the stuff you learn may not translate well for everyone.
Also take into consideration the facilities around you. Are there any cheap futsal training halls/indoor soccer pitches? Is there an amateur league you can join? If you answered yes to any of these questions, lean towards that variant.
No matter which variant you play, you'll be better playing it than not. If you're looking for extra exercise or something fun to do, don't overthink it.
If you want to develop close control and add a more technical side to your game, play futsal. I could do with developing my technical ability but unfortunately there's no futsal arenas nearby.

Playing more soccer can only be good.

But if you do start feeling fatigued and are under-performing while playing normal soccer (if that's your focus), take a break.

Both of these sports are great fun, you'll improve at soccer and you'll increase your stamina too. You may even pick up a new sport that you want to focus on over normal soccer.

What's your thoughts on Futsal & Indoor soccer? Let me know in the comments below.

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