Although they are often regarded as being the same, there are actually distinct differences between futsal and indoor soccer, not the least of which being that futsal can be played outdoors and inside.
However, there are a number of other ways to tell them apart.
This article breakdown the main differences between both of those soccer aspects!
Futsal vs Indoor Soccer (General Differences)
|14 to 16 oz
|14 to 16 oz
|19.5 to 25.5 Inches
|Number of Players
|2 * 20 minutes
|2 * 25 minutes
|Indoor or Outdoor (Hard Pitch)
|Indoor (Grass or Turf)
Futsal balls (Check this Example) are lighter than outdoor soccer balls (Check this Example), and, although they come in different sizes, they typically weigh between 14 and 16 ounces (410 to 450 grammes).
What marks them out though is they are specifically designed to bounce less than a normal soccer ball. A Size 5 soccer ball has a bounce of 125 – 155 cm, compared to a futsal ball where the equivalent figures are 50 – 65 cm.
An indoor soccer ball should be spherical, made of leather or any or suitable material, with a circumference not greater than 28 inches (70 cm) and no less than 27 inches (68 cm).
It should weigh between 14 and 16 ounces (410 to 450 grammes).
There are five players allowed on a futsal field at any one time, one of whom must be a goalkeeper.
The maximum number of substitutes allowed is nine, and they can be made on the fly, provided that the player being subbed leaves the pitch first.
Indoor soccer starts with six players aside, again with one of them a goalkeeper
International rules allow for up to a maximum of 14 substitutes, with 20 names on a team sheet. However, normally only three can be used in any game.
3. Time and Duration
A standard futsal match consists of two equal periods of 20 minutes each, with an interval of 15minutes in between.
A half can be extended to allow a penalty kick to be taken. Each team may take one time-out per half, which can last no longer than a minute.
Some futsal competitions do not allow a draw and will play extra time and then use either penalty kicks, or away goals to decide the winner.
An indoor soccer match last for two equal periods of 25 minutes each, with a halftime interval of just three minutes.
The clock will not be stopped during a match for any reason except in the last minute of each half when it goes out of play. Local competition rules may allow the referee to add on more time at their discretion.
Both essentially allow the same degree of contact as regular soccer, so neither is more nor less violent than the other.
However, the cost of fouls is greater in futsal. That is because if a team commits five fouls in one half, their opponents automatically get a free shot at goal from the second penalty spot.
If the decisive foul occurs closer to goal, then the shot can be taken from where that infringement occurred.
Whilst futsal can be played both outdoors and in, indoor soccer is played exclusively under a roof.
A futsal pitch has specific line markings, whereas an indoor soccer court uses walls and hard boards to delineate the field of play.
In addition, the surface differs – a futsal court is hard, whereas an indoor court will typically consist of artificial grass or turf.
Positions in indoor soccer tend to be more rigid than in futsal, in part because the teams start with one more player a side.
For example, goalkeepers tend to stay in their position, whilst the concept of rush goalie is not uncommon in futsal.
Generally, though, players will tend to be either attackers or defenders, moving back and forth between midfield as appropriate.
There are subtle differences in the rules between the two games.
For example, in futsal, somebody who has been sent-off can be replaced, although two minutes must elapse before a substitute is allowed.
In indoor soccer, a team must play with a man short for the rest of the match.
In futsal a player can only enter or leave the pitch from a designated area, whereas in indoor soccer they can leave or join from anywhere along the touchline.
And, when the ball goes out of play, whilst a standard throw-in is used in indoor soccer, futsal restarts play with a kick-in instead.
8. Other technical differences
There are a common of other differences between the two games worth noting.
In futsal it is normal to use a stop clock, as opposed to indoor soccer that deploys a running clock.
In addition, there is a rule unique to futsal that sets a time limit for a corner kick to be taken. Any longer than four seconds, and possession automatically goes to the other team.
Futsal requires more coaching because of the particular demands of the game, and the sue of smaller, heavier balls, It also places more emphasis on an individual to beat his or her opponent, so this needs to be practiced in training sessions.
That is not to say, however, that the skills of any indoor soccer player cannot be improved by a good coach.
Whilst tactics can vary between the two, one important consideration is the use of substitutes.
Because futsal allows for up to nine subs to be used per game and for substitutions to be made on the fly, it is easy to change tactics quickly and to react when players are showing signs of fatigue.
In indoor soccer, more thought needs to be applied – there are only a limited number of subs allowed, and they have to be used wisely.
11. Required skills
Arguably futsal places greater emphasis on close control and touch, because, without walls, there is no margin for error if a pass is misplaced.
In addition, because the ball is smaller than a normal soccer ball, there is a greater emphasis on control especially because playing on a hard surface tends to quicken the pace of the game up anyway.
12. Competition magnitude
Futsal definitely has the edge because it has its own World Cup, held every four years. First held in the Netherlands in 1989, the next tournament is scheduled to be staged in Lithuania next year.
Brazil are the most successful team in the history of the competition – they have won it four times, followed by Spain with two victories to their name.
Indoor soccer does not have anything with the same cachet or prestige.
13. Career and Money
Futsal is still a relatively new sport, and there are still only a handful of professional leagues, in counties like Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Italy and Portugal.
The top players in some of these leagues can earn in excess of £100,000 per year, but the pay for players further down the scale is much more modest – anywhere between £50 to £250 a week whilst the season is in progress.
That is still better than indoor soccer which tends to be recreational mainly.
Although there have been instances of ex-pros turning to it later in life for exhibition games or tournaments, where players do get paid for indoor soccer teams, many would be doing well to get £250 a game.
14. Which sport is recommended more for kids?
Whilst there are advantages and disadvantages to kids with both sports, futsal is generally better for kids.
In the first place, there are generally more futsal pitches than indoor soccer courts, so there are more places to play the game.
And then there is the fact that futsal allows more substitutes so even if a child does not start a game, there is every chance they will be brought on to the pitch at some time.
Finally, but not least, some kids may find indoor soccer too intense because the half-time break is that much shorter, and they may struggle to recuperate.
15. Beginner friendly?
Beginners may find indoor soccer easier to begin with, especially if they have previously played soccer outdoors.
For some, futsal can be very intense and fast-paced, and extremely competitive as well.
There is no definitive answer to which game is more fun because both are enjoyable in their own ways.
If though one had to plump for one over the other, futsal might just have the edge because it can be more intense and fast moving.
Another advantage that is has in the eyes of some is that often there Is no possibility of a draw in futsal, so teams have to play for the win.
The Pros and Cons of Futsal and Indoor Soccer
No sport is better than the other, and both have their advocates and detractors. However, here are some of the pros and cons of each:
- More substitutes are allowed during a game, meaning that more members of a squad can get playing time.
- Standard halves are shorter and half-time breaks longer.
- The heavier ball helps improve the power of players.
- It helps improve the overall skills of players, their reaction times, and ability to take on opponents directly.
- Most futsal tournaments insist that there must be a winner from every match.
- Teams that commit even minor fouls a lot are heavily punished.
- The balls can be heavy for some, and the hard surfaces unforgiving to knees and ankles.
- Indoor soccer is closer to normal soccer, so there are less new rules to familiarise yourself with before you start to play.
- The balls are lighter and less hard and they bounce more.
- Indoor soccer matches normally allow for a draw.
- A specific indoor field is needed
- There are less substitutions allowed per match so that may mean more players in a squad miss out on playing time
- The periods are longer and the half-time interval much shorter.
Final Thoughts …
Really hope this article has answered all your questions about the main differences between futsal and indoor soccer!
One more thing I would love to add, is that Futsal (at least in my opinion) is more enjoyable to watch. The quality of players tends to be better and the continuity of action and intensity make it even more fun to watch.
Finally, I strongly invite you to learn about these critical soccer benefits!