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At Evolve, is it Futsal or Indoor Soccer?

At Evolve Soccer LA, we are asked all the time: Is our facility futsal or indoor soccer? It’s time to set the record straight and explain the differences between the two types of soccer.

Replicating the Art of “Street Soccer”

In the development of a soccer player, most clubs and coaches love the idea of small-sided soccer. When not playing full-size soccer, soccer players are encouraged to play futsal or indoor soccer where they can develop a better touch of the ball. Since, God forbid, players go out with friends and play soccer “in the streets”, facilities such as Evolve have developed to replicate the demands and thrill of “street soccer” that have made the South Americans the most skilled and creative players in the world.

Generally speaking, in contrast to “real” soccer, both futsal and indoor soccer are played on a smaller field and with fewer players, usually 5 players instead of 11. The game is much quicker than regular soccer and ball control is king. The fast-paced non-stop game creates a need for lots of quick substitutions in and out, such as in hockey or basketball.

How did Futsal and Indoor Soccer begin?

Futsal (also called 5-aside) is said to be first invented in 1930 in Uruguay. Young players desired to replicate what their soccer idols were playing on the big stadiums. Smooth grass fields were sometimes hard to come by, especially during the winter months, and playing in the streets was often dangerous. Many young players went home with a broken toe or a bloody lip. A Uruguayan soccer fanatic named Juan Carlos noticed all the unused basketball courts at the local YMCA and invited some of the kids to come in off the streets and play on the courts. The game took off and now players got to play inside and outdoors, too.

Indoor soccer (also called arena soccer) was primarily invented in the United States and Canada so players could play in the winter months. Basketball was popular in these countries and playing soccer on indoor basketball courts was often frowned on. Instead, special arenas were made and included walls, so the soccer balls would not get kicked into other activities in the facility. At first, the cost of walls limited the sport in indoor soccer but it has picked up in popularity around the world. Just last year, US Soccer’s all-time leading scorer, Landon Donovan, can out of retirement to play indoor soccer for the San Diego Sockers.

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What are the Main Differences between Futsal and Indoor Soccer?

1) INDOOR or OUTDOOR? Aren’t indoor soccer and futsal both played inside?  Well, yes and no. Indoor soccer is typically played indoors, but it can also be considered indoor soccer… if played outside… if covered with a roof. And futsal can be played indoors or outdoors to, with or without a roof. Makes sense, right?

2) PLAYING SURFACE: Futsal is played on a hard surface such as a basketball court, or in many parts of the world on a street or on a dirt lot. You learn great ball control really quickly on this type of surface. Indoor soccer is usually played on grass or artificial turf. The type of shoe a player wears depends on what type of grip he or she can get on the playing surface. Cleats with studs would not work well on a basketball court. Futsal players wear shoes with a softer sole with good traction, and sometimes just in their bare feet. But watch your toes.


3) WALLS & BOUNDARIES: What about the walls? There is a great debate about whether walls help or hinder a player’s skill development. Indoor soccer has walls. Futsal does not.

Indoor soccer players love the walls, as the game is non-stop action and there are very few stoppages in the game. This creates lots of running, and many more touches of the ball and, hence, must improve your skills. The physical wall created a new type of pass, the wall pass, which led to a new way of thinking to make a pass off the wall.

Futsal players laugh at this argument. They do not believe in walls. They argue that soccer skills develop, not by the quantity of touches, but by the quality of touches. Without walls, a player can make no mistakes. If the ball is passed too hard, it goes out of bounds. If a ball is not received correctly, it could go out of bounds. With walls, if a shot goes wide, no worries, you or your teammate can get the ball right back. Accuracy becomes less important when walls hide your mistakes. In futsal, mistakes will be punished!

4) BALL: In futsal, to keep the ball from bouncing too much on the harder surface, a smaller and slightly heavier ball is used. The smaller ball also helps with focus on controlling the ball. In indoor soccer, the ball is a regular size ball, and grass or turf slows the ball down a bit.

5) OTHER DIFFERENCES: Within both futsal and indoor soccer, each league there may also subtle differences in there way the game is played. There may be more or less substitutions. The game clock may be shorter or longer. There may be 2 period or 4 periods. In futsal, there is no throw-ins, only kick-ins. Indoor soccer may allow some type of throw-in with your hands, or it may be a kick-in. Maybe only 5 yards on a free kick, not the usual 10 yards.

As long as the rules are agreed on before the game begins, all is fair. The rest of the game is regular soccer.

So is it Futsal or Indoor Soccer at Evolve?

Evolve is taking the best of both worlds!


Currently, there is one indoor field with artificial turf and no walls. We will soon be removing the turf and adding a hard surface for a true futsal experience. Concurrently, we are midway through the developing a larger additional field outdoors which will have artificial turf and no walls. These two fields give us a flexibility in the playing surface for the various activities that Evolve offers to players.

Now, walls may create a fast-paced entertainment experience, but we agree that for true skills development and just as much fun, the Brazilians can’t be that wrong. And this is not just for South Americans. Note that many of the stars of the World Cup champions France learned their trade on the streets of Paris where players battled it out on the small futsal courts set up to help young kids fine-tune their skills and dream of winning a World Cup one day! Maybe you have that same dream!

Sign Up to develop your  Soccer Skills at Evolve!

Futsal Soccer Clinics
Summer Soccer Camps
Soccer classes f/futsal/futsal-skillsor all ages
Soccer Boot Camp
Special high-tech training by our TOCA machine!
Adult Pick-up games

More about Futsal

Learn More about About the history of Futsal
What type of futsal shoes, balls and equipment should I get?
Basic Futsal positions