General Articles

BBC – Could Futsal Produce Another Messi

Could futsal be the key to unlocking talent in England’s next generation

Research Articles

Despite the increasing popularity of futsal, there is little information on performance characteristics of players. We aimed to determine the validity and reliability of a futsal shooting test and to evaluate and compare performance characteristics of three futsal playing levels. Twenty-four males (n = 8 elite, n = 8 semi-elite, n = 8 social) completed two trials to examine the reliability of the Massey Futsal Shooting Test (MFST) and to compare various fitness characteristics between groups. MFST time taken (P = 0.010), shot speed (P < 0.001) and points scored per shot (P < 0.001) were better for elite relative to social players. Test-retest reliability was acceptable for all groups, but it was most repeatable in elite players. Loughborough Soccer Passing Test performance was better in elite relative to social players (P = 0.004). There were no differences in countermovement-jump height between groups. Elite players ran faster over 5 m than both semi-elite (P = 0.043) and social (P = 0.002) and faster than the social players through 10 m (P = 0.028) and 20 m (P = 0.026). Distance covered in the Futsal Intermittent Endurance Test was higher in elite relative to semi-elite (P = 0.005) and social (P < 0.001) groups. The MFST is a valid and reliable protocol to assess futsal shooting-skill performance; elite players have superior shooting and passing skill and have greater sprinting and intermittent-running ability.

Players within the same age group may present different physical and physiological profiles. This study classified young soccer players according to their physical and physiological profiles obtained during the training sessions and compared classification by age and playing position criteria. 151 male elite Portuguese soccer players (under 15, under 17, and under 19 years old) participated. Time-motion and body acceleration and deceleration data were collected using GPS technology with heart rate monitored continuously across the selected training sessions. The data were grouped using two-step cluster analysis to classify athletes. A repeated-measures factorial ANOVA was performed to identify differences in the variables. Three clusters comprised 15.2%, 37.1%, and 47.7% of the total sample, respectively. Players of the same ages and playing experience had different performance profiles. Grouping players with similar physiological profiles during training sessions may allow coaches to balance oppositions and reduce the variability of the physiological outcomes.

Positional variation in match performance is well established in elite soccer but no information exists on players switching positions. This study investigated the influence of elite players interchanging from one position to another on physical and technical match performance. Data were collected from multiple English Premier League (EPL) seasons using a computerised tracking system. After adhering to stringent inclusion criteria, players were examined across several interchanges: central-defender to fullback (CD-FB, n = 11, 312 observations), central-midfielder to wide-midfielder (CM-WM, n = 7, 171 observations), wide-midfielder to central-midfielder (WM-CM, n = 7, 197 observations) and attacker to wide-midfielder (AT-WM, n = 4, 81 observations). Players interchanging from CD-FB covered markedly more high-intensity running and sprinting distance (effect size [ES]: −1.56 and −1.26), lost more possessions but made more final third entries (ES: −1.23 and −1.55). Interchanging from CM-WM and WM-CM resulted in trivial to moderate differences in both physical (ES: −0.14–0.59 and −0.21–0.39) and technical performances (ES: −0.48–0.64 and −0.36–0.54). Players interchanging from AT-WM demonstrated a moderate difference in high-intensity running without possession (ES: −0.98) and moderate-to-large differences in the number of clearances, tackles and possessions won (ES: −0.77, −1.16 and −1.41). The data demonstrate that the physical and technical demands vary greatly from one interchange to another but utility players seem able to adapt to these positional switches.