On the surface, yes, futsal is a smaller version of soccer. Dig a little deeper and the timing, teamwork, and tenacity of futsal mirror that of basketball. In recent years many a top flight soccer team has swaggered into our gym to play futsal. And it ain’t pretty. America’s top players and we’re talking kids in the national pool often struggle mightily with the quick decision making and advance technique that futsal demands. Futsal ruthlessly exposes a player’s ability to control the ball and make lightening quick decisions on when and where to pass or dribble. The decision making is not limited to the ball handler. All players are constantly making calculations on where to move without the ball. The weave pattern the NBA’s Warriors & Spurs implement at the top of the key is similar to the rotations used by FC Barcelona & El Pozo Murcia. Constant, purposeful motion is a hallmark of top flight futsal.
So futsal is not mini soccer, however, soccer can become mega futsal. Recently I watched a rerun of a Barca-Real game from several years ago. Ronaldinho was still running the show. Barca, up by a few goals and whittling the game away, essentially was playing full field rondo. The passing was of such precision and quality that the Spanish announcer giddily exclaimed, Barcelona está jugando fútbol de salón! …. Barcelona is playing futsal! Some compliments just can’t get any bigger.