Futsal is a popular soccer variation that is known for its dynamic and fast-paced nature. The sport is played on smaller, basketball-type courts and packs a burst of thrill and excitement. Due to the smaller field, each team in a Futsal game comprises five players. However, there is no limit on substitutions, as long as the number of players on the court at any time does not exceed five. Just like soccer, these five players have certain Futsal positions designated to them and they have different roles to play in the game.
Whether you are planning on coaching Futsal or delving into professional Futsal, it is important that you understand the five player positions and their roles in the game. It will help you understand the dynamics of the game and put together the best strategies to get the better of the opposition.
The Key Futsal Positions
According to Futsal rules, a total of five players from each team take the field in a Futsal game – four outfielders and a goalkeeper. These players can be substituted anytime during play, and as many times as required. The nature of the sport is such that all five players should play their role in an attacking move as well as in defensive play. However, they do have designated positions with specific names and roles too.
In general, the five futsal positions include:
- Goalkeeper (Goliero)
- Defender (Fixo)
- 2 Wingers (Ala)
- Forward or Target (Pivot)
- Line Goalkeeper
Note: The names above are mentioned with what they are called in Portuguese.
As mentioned earlier, however, the positions are not fixed and players can move around the Futsal court in attacking and defensive positions. It all depends on the situation of the game and the strategy implemented by your team management.
Explaining Various Positions In Futsal
Let’s dive a little further and explore what each of these Futsal positions is about. It will help develop a better understanding of each Futsal position before we can start understanding the roles and demands of each position and the strategies you can build around them.
1. Goalkeeper (Goliero)
One of the important positions of the game indoor soccer, a goalkeeper plays a key part in winning matches for his team. He’s the one who defends your goalpost even when he is injured or can’t run. If you have a proactive goalkeeper defending your goalpost, it’s almost guaranteed that you are going to win the games. Besides the defending role, they also have to send the ball to players wisely to launch the attack on the opposition. After all, it’s your goalkeeper who is responsible for seamless attacking transition.
2. Defender (Fixo)
The defender is the first line of defense ahead of the goalkeeper in indoor Futsal, providing defensive cover and keeping the opponent’s attackers at bay. It’s the combo of the goalkeeper and the defender that denies most of the attacks from the opposition. In most cases, he’s also the team captain and/or manager and puts in most of the effort on and off the court. Besides the goalkeeper, a Fixo has the team playing in front of him and is perfectly placed to play the ball to the wingers and launch the attack.
3. Left and Right Winger (ALA)
Wingers are usually placed on the right and the left wing and play an important part in launching the attack from the flanks. They’re the team’s workhorses and work more like a link between the forward and the defender. They keep moving forward and backward on the court to assist in both attack and defense. If you compare Futsal with Soccer, wingers are equally important in launching attacks in both sports. Due to the more dynamic nature of Futsal, however, you don’t always see designated wingers at each flank and their role is more flexible on the pitch.
4. Forward or Target (Pivot)
A Pivot or Target is the goal scorer, and his primary role is to attack. While wingers launch the attacking moves, he is the one who strikes and finishes them off. He mostly stays close to the goalpost of the opposition and looks to grab every opportunity to score for his team. Sometimes, however, he may be called back to play a more defensive part, depending on the situation of the game. Mostly, however, he takes the ball, controls it, does his maneuvers to beat the opponents, and strikes the ball powerfully to make it go past the goalkeeper.
5. Line Goalkeeper
Now you may be thinking again how many players in Futsal, right? Well, the Line Goalkeeper is not the sixth player. Instead, it’s the goalkeeper who acts as a line player whenever the team is losing and the plan is to attack all ends up. As soon as the team gets the ball, the goalkeeper becomes the line goalkeeper, increasing his team’s offensive acumen. It should be noted here that the role of the Line Goalkeeper can be taken by the team’s goalkeeper himself or a line player replacing the goalkeeper.
With these positions in mind, you can devise the strategy for your Futsal matches. Keep in mind that these positions are flexible and the players can take different roles during gameplay to implement your team plan.
Strategies for Futsal Positions and Their Role in Play
Now that you know various futsal positions and the basics of what they are meant to do during a Futsal game, let’s dig a bit deeper into their roles in gameplay. We’ll also learn what you need to do to use these positions more effectively.
The Role Wingers Can Play In The Game
Generally, there are two wingers – one on each flank – ready to launch the attacks at the opposition goalpost. Two wingers give your team more options to take the attack to the opposition as you move forward. Remember, always use players who have mastered a few tricks and can maneuver the ball as your wingers to breach the opposition’s defense. They should also be quick on their feet to beat the defenders.
The Winger-Pivot Connection
Besides their own ball skills and trickery, it is important that your wingers have a good understanding with the pivot. It’s the winger-pivot connection that makes your attacking moves successful. They should be able to move the ball forward swiftly with quick one-two-one passes and finish the move in style as soon as an opportunity is spotted.
Wingers generally play along the touchlines and create room for other players, as they launch the attacks. As soon as they get the ball, they should decide whether it’s right to take a shot from there or they need to dribble around or pass the ball to another team-mate.
Wingers Must Be Fit And Steadfast
More often, wingers have to put in greater effort than any other players on the court. While they have to launch the attacks and take the ball forward, they must also come back to do the defensive duties and aid the Fixo when needed. They are usually well-placed to block the paths of the opposition’s wingers and neutralize their attacks.
However, to effectively perform both duties, wingers need to be fit enough and have incredible stamina. Their job requires them to keep moving around the court to play an effective part in their team’s success. If their fitness is not up to the mark, it will cost the team big time.
The Role Pivot Can Play In The Game
While a pivot is primarily a goal scorer, he must not just stick to a single attacking position. He should communicate regularly with the wingers and actively participate with them in the attacking moves.
A common play observed during indoor Futsal games is the goalkeeper sending the ball directly to the pivot. When he gets the ball, he passes it to one of the wingers. It’s kind of a distraction, as forcing the defenders to charge the pivot this way means the players in wider positions have a lot more space to score directly. They can also do a quick one-to-one before the pivot sends the ball into the nets.
Therefore, besides being the goalscorer, your pivot or target player can also work with wingers to create scoring opportunities. Together, the wingers and the pivot can easily manipulate the opposition’s defense.
The Pivot Needs To Be Physically Strong
It is important for a pivot to be physically very strong to play their part effectively in the game. They often have to take the challenge and deal with one or two defenders charging at them. So, besides being technically sound, their physical strength can be crucial to see off the defenders. They can take the defenders head-on, dribble past them, or pass the ball to the wingers and move past the defenders for a quick one-to-one.
The Role Goalkeepers Can Play In The Game
Even the person who invented Futsal would agree that goalkeepers play the most crucial role in Futsal matches. They must be agile and have great reflexes to defy the attacks from the opposition. When inside the area designated for goalkeepers, they can touch the Futsal ball and hold it in their hands. But when they leave their designated space, they assume the role of a line player. You’d say that their primary role is to defend the goalpost, but you can’t deny the fact that their attacking contributions are also mandatory to give your team a strategic edge over the opposition when needed.
It’s the goalkeeper who plays the ball after defending the opposition’s attack successfully, and they must wisely choose the player to pass it to. They can effectively initiate the transition to attack by sending the ball accurately to the players higher up the court, and with a bit more space to maneuver around the defenders.
Goalkeepers Can Be The Leaders On The Court
Considering their position on a Futsal court, goalkeepers are best placed to have some oversight of the game. In fact, no one else can direct the players better than the goalkeeper and put together instant strategies to deceive the opposition defense line and score more often.
Therefore, it is important for goalkeepers to have strong leadership qualities. If they are smart leaders, they can organize their team members better, plan according to the situation of the game, take advantage of the opposition’s shortcomings, and distribute the ball wisely to create more scoring opportunities for their team.
Goalkeepers May Also Join The Attack, But Beware
At times, when your team is losing, and there is not much time left to score enough goals with normal gameplay, goalkeepers can also leave the goalpost and join the attack with other players. Remember, however, that it can be dangerous, and as soon as you lose the ball, the opposition players can send it into the empty goal you have left behind.
The Role Defender Can Play In The Game
The defender has to do the defensive duties in front of the goalkeeper. It is important that they consistently and clearly communicate with the goalkeeper and other players who come back to assist him with his role. What’s crucial for defenders to be successful is the timing of their tackles. If they can time their tackles accurately and don’t give away fouls, they can do a world of good for their team’s cause.
The Defenders Have To Be Versatile
As there are no specialist Futsal positions in the midfield in conventional Futsal, defenders have to assume the role of midfielders as well. Positioned just in front of the goalkeeper, they can easily spot the wingers and the target player on the court. It allows them to distribute the ball effectively to help wingers and the pivot launch attacking moves that yield great results.
Futsal’s lightning-fast transitions require all Futsal players to act proactively and be versatile. Things change in the blink of an eye and a defender might need to switch roles to assist the pivot or the wingers. Therefore, they should be mentally prepared and switch positions as and when needed by their team.
Futsal positions can be confusing at times because the smaller court and the fast-paced nature of the sport require players to assume different roles during gameplay. Generally, however, there are five positions in indoor Futsal – goalkeeper, defender (Fixo), right and left wingers (ALA), and forward (Pivot or Target player). However, these five player positions and their roles are not strictly defined, and a defender might have to go forward to assist the wingers or the wingers might need to come into defensive positions to defy the opposition’s attack anytime.
According to Futsal rules, all these five players must remain on the court at all times during play. The management can substitute players, as many as they like. But they will all play in these five loosely defined positions. If you are interested in coaching Futsal, understanding these key positions and learning about them can be crucial to devising winning strategies and making them work on the field.