5 a side football Vs Futsal: What’s the difference between five a side and Futsal?

We explore the differences between 5 a side football and Futsal - Two forms of the small sided game that have their pros and cons...

Do you want to know the differences between 5aside football and Futsal football? We explore, with a little help from the one of the greatest who played Futsal (Zizou!)

What is Futsal?

Futsal is the official Fifa variant of indoor football. The name comes from the Portuguese futebol de salao and the Spanish fútbol de sala which, both meaning indoor football – Futsal is just the short form.

Futsal is football in its purest form – pace, skills, teamwork and high drama characterize the game. It uses a smaller ball that got much less bounce effect than a “normal” football – this should help the players to control the ball more easily. The surface is a hard court, no matter whether indoor or outdoor, with no walls or boards around – this is one of the main differences to other variants of indoor football. Each team has five players on the court including one goalkeeper.

Substitutions are not limited. An official match consists of two 20 minutes periods with a halftime break of max. 15 minutes. If one team commits more than five accumulated fouls in one period, the other team gets a direct free kick from a distance of ten meters with no defensive wall.

Freestyle Football

Freestyle football is nothing else then expressing yourself using a football. Most people think, that freestyle football just developed in the past twenty years, strongly linked to the culture of hip hop – but they are wrong. As you can see in this Video, freestyle was already practiced nearly 100 years ago.

Already in the 1930´s the Italian acrobat Enrico Rastelli performed some still well known tricks like head juggles or neck stalls. A few years later mainly the German Francis Brunn developed the „Impossible Trick“, in which one ball is spinning on another ball.

But the early performers of freestyle using a football where more located at the circus and show stages – not until the 80’s Freestyle football went over to the football stadium when some famous players like Maradona used some freestyle tricks to warm up before a game – now it became clear that Freestyle is not just a fancy way to have some fun with a ball missing an opponent but can also improve skills which are useful on the pitch.

How to play Futsal, Zidane style!

Zinedine Zidane returns to his old club… It’s murder on Zidane’s floor!

Imagine playing on the same team as Zidane. Imagine being a striker and knowing he will see your run or chip a pinpoint cross on for a header. Imagine playing against Zizou. Attempting to contain him or even just stay with him. This dream came true for a group of footballers when Zidane went back to his old Futsal club.

The video at the top of this page will blow your mind!

Zidane makes it look so easy – Football played with an effortless beauty, with every movement and touch memorising the opponents (and viewers!)

Comparing 5-a-side to futsal

They do not exist to compete with each other. But to complement each other.
Despite the development of futsal, we still hear many people equating futsal with five-a-side. Some of whom do not understand or know the difference. We will first explain it, before seeing what these two sports can do for each other.
Comparing Futsal to Five is a bit like comparing tennis to padel. They are neither the same sports nor the same rules.

Let’s quickly summarise 5-a-side football. It is played on a closed synthetic pitch of 25 by 15 metres. The players are allowed to use the walls around the field but the ball must not touch the net above the wall. The goalkeeper is not allowed to leave his area and the outfield players are not allowed to enter it. In terms of fouls, tackling is forbidden as in futsal, but unlike futsal, it does not result in a free-kick, the ball is returned to the goalkeeper. Only serious fouls are sanctioned by a “shoot out”, a kind of penalty.

To put it simply, the size and surface of the pitch are not the same in futsal as in 5-a-side football. There are lines around the pitch in futsal, whereas most pitches have walls in Five-a-side. Finally, five-a-side is not yet a sport that is sufficiently democratised to be the subject of a structured national championship like futsal. However, there are competitions and small leagues in 5-a-side, organised by Ultimate5aside.

5 a side football Vs Futsal?

The main differences of 5 a side football to futsal

What will be the differences between the two sports and what will they bring to each other?

The size of the fields

In 5-a-side soccer the playing area is smaller than on a regular futsal field. This is often due to the fact that a futsal field is multi-sport. Its size is adapted to the practice of basketball, volleyball or floor hockey. In addition, gymnasiums have more space to build only one field, while soccer centres build several fields for economic reasons.

The playing surface

Another notable difference is the playing surface. Five-a-side soccer is played on indoor synthetic pitches, a shorter fake grass mat than outdoors. Depending on the surface on which it is laid (usually a concrete slab) and the depth of the mat, this playing surface is more demanding on the back. Although it is not recommended, it is also not uncommon for players to wear cleats. Futsal is played on parquet, which is a floor made of wooden slats. Wooden floors are generally more demanding on the knees.


The type of footwear differs between futsal and 5-a-side football. Firstly, for futsal it is recommended that there are no cleats. Secondly, the indoor football shoe is designed with a rubber outsole for ultimate grip. In 5-a-side football you can play with turf cleats, which are mini cleats that are better suited for direction changes and other movements on this synthetic surface.

The playing area

5-a-side soccer fields are surrounded by a strip that prevents the ball from going out of bounds. This means that the ball is in play more often than in futsal, where the ball can go outside the boundaries of the field. The pace of play is correspondingly fast, as usually every shot on the boards results in a rebound of the ball into the playing area.

The size of the ball

In futsal the ball is often heavier than in 5-a-side football and in both cases the preference is for size 4 balls (smaller than the size 5 balls used in outdoor soccer). In 5-a-side soccer, there is also a higher risk of injury due to the close action of the boards.

The movements

Because of the possibility of playing with the walls in 5aside. The use of the goalkeeper is also different, he can be used as a 5th man in the offensive phase in futsal, which is not the case in soccer. The number of players on the field is the same but the field is larger in Futsal, which makes the sport more physical than soccer, which is a little more technical. Tactically, futsal will be more demanding than 5-a-side football.

Futsal goals and 5 a side football

What’s the difference between 5 a side football and Futsal?

The aim here was not to criticise one sport or to praise the other, but simply to explain the differences between two very technical and physical sports, which have been booming in recent years. While Futsal seems to have a bit of a head start at national level thanks to its better structured league, Five also has a bright future.

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