How is the art of Futsal goalkeeping different than the American version of Indoor Turf Goalkeeping?

Futsal playing field is much different than the average American Indoor Soccer Field.

Many football fans have often said that you have to be totally mad to be a football goalkeeper. If this true, the sanity of the Futsal goalkeeper must surely be even more in question. Even more than the sanity of the American goalkeeper playing the indoor version of American turf football.

One of the reasons Futsal has been growing in popularity in America, in my opinion, is because more and more European and South American trainers are involved with the game today than in the past and they know the benefits of playing small sided games, (playing field is much smaller), hard surface, (futsal is played on hard surfaces), means the ball movement is much faster and more difficult to control, less players on the playing field at any given time means more touches on the ball, and a quicker paced game means faster decision making.

Although the American indoor turf game is fast, Futsal is much faster.

Before we go any further lets examine the difference between Futsal and the American version of the indoor game on turf surfaces.

Futsal was developed in Brazil and Uruguay in the 1930s and 1940s as a solution to the lack of available football fields. Some of the worlds top soccer players to have ever played the game grew up playing futsal.

Futsal is played between two teams of five players each, one of whom is the goalkeeper. Unlimited substitutions are permitted.

Unlike the typical American version of indoor turf game Futsal is played on a hard court surface delimited by lines; walls or boards are not used. Futsal is also played with a smaller ball with less bounce than a regular football. The surface, ball and rules create an emphasis on improvisation, creativity and technique as well as ball control and passing in small spaces.

So how does all this change the goalkeeper’s playing style and strategy and what are the benefits to his/her goalkeeping development from one game to the other?

Fast and frenetic

In the fast-paced and frenetic atmosphere of Futsal, the goalkeeper is on the receiving end of a constant barrage of fierce shots. With the goal measuring three meters by two meters, there is little room to hide. And, given the smaller playing area than the eleven-a-side game, the Futsal goalkeeper’s attacking instincts are also crucial.

Smaller ball
An understanding of the game and good vision are prerequisites with the goalkeeper frequently starting attacks with a long throw or pass forward. Strong reflexes are also vital, with shots coming from any angle at lightning speed, often at point-blank range. The Futsal goalkeeper very rarely catches the ball when making a save as the smaller, less bouncy, Futsal ball makes it harder to grasp.

Communication vital
Vic Hermans, the Dutch national team coach, said another vital attribute is the ability to communicate. “The goalkeeper can coach the players in front of him,” he said, adding that it is also useful to find goalkeepers who were comfortable in possession in case they are needed to venture up field. He added: “When looking for a good goalkeeper, I am searching for one who can play and shoot as well.”

Now, you may argue that all this sounds very much like the American turf version of indoor soccer. Let me assure you that just as teams find the transition from grass play to turf play harder because the ball movement is much faster the transition to the hard surface of Futsal is even harder. However, the benefits of Futsal are much more as well. Especially for the goalkeepers that have to stop faster shots at closer range spots, move in their goal area much faster, react to the faster game, make faster decisions, and also be able to foot handle the ball at this faster surface. Quicker and smarter goalkeepers are sure to come out of any indoor soccer season, especially if playing in a futsal league.

Just4Keepers New Jersey Director Niko Alexopoulos will be conducting free workshops in the New Jersey area this upcoming winter season to help all keepers and parents better understand and prepare for the upcoming indoor season.

Please email him at to reserve your spot.

Workshops will be in New Brunswick, Metuchen and Jackson.

Please indicate which location you are interested in and the exact address and time will be sent to you.