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Futsal v Football

A theoretical and practical review of how the principles of Futsal could be implemented into the coaching of English youth football players to develop technical ability?

Introduction

The Football Association (FA) is in charge of developing English football. In 2007 they established the National Game Strategy to develop grassroots football. One key goal states ‘to develop better players, focusing on improving the quality of the 5-11 age group’ (The FA, 2007). To do this effectively the FA needs to provide high quality training for children (The FA, 2007). Although, this goal puts emphasis on improving youth coaching, it overlooks ways to improve the playing standards of youth football.

This situation was compounded in November 2007 by the nation’s failure to qualify for football’s 2008 European Championships, accentuating problems that had, until now, been covered up - most significantly, that English players are not technically good enough. Subsequently, the FA encountered a lot of criticism regarding their current youth development set up.

‘Unless you (England) change your whole approach to football, nothing will

get better

that they improve their technique’ (Carlos Alberta, 2007).

the most important thing that can happen to English players is

A seemingly fundamental problem of English football is that it does not provide players the opportunity to develop a good level of technical and tactical skills. A number of reasons have been suggested to explain this situation. For example, in the professional game there is an overcrowding of foreign players restricting home grown players participating at the highest level. This problem was highlighted by a report in 2007 stating ‘Since the start of the 2002-03 season, only 53 English players have made Premier League debuts’. This suggests that the technical ability coming through foreign youth systems is far superior to our own. In an interview with West Ham Coach Kevin Keen, he stated this was because their sessions were completely technically orientated.

Futsal v Football

‘I went to Holland and the main thing I saw was keep ball drills, all about moving the ball, tackling didn’t exist…’

Unfortunately, English football is structured around physical strength and speed, neglecting the importance of technique. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (2006) ’

emphasises that The most important thing for under 14s is technique

English coaching continues to promote the physical qualities in youth football ahead

of technique, the style of football the nation will play will remain one-dimensional

and continue to restrict the development of players to retain possession under pressure or play in other positions. Furthermore, from experience as a football coach, I regularly observe qualified coaches instructing young players ‘do this do that’ a style that hinders creativity and individuality. This is justified by Potrac et al, (2007) who found, when observing four top English coaches, that instruction represented almost 55% of a coach’s behaviour, whereas visual demonstration made up just 3%.

Yet, if

A strong youth development programme, according to Brazilian World Cup Winning

Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira (2007), is imperative to producing new talent. ‘Players

It is not about Pele, Kaka, Ronaldinho - it is about the system that

produces them’. This is what the FA must recognise, and, although changes to the game and society are variables that they can not necessarily control, it is possible to control the way the next generation of young players are developed. Therefore, to suggest that fundamental changes to the coaching framework in English football are required is by no means a rash statement.

are built in clubs

This section has highlighted weaknesses in English football specifically relating to the FA’s apparent neglect to develop young players technically. Consequently, as Brooking (2007) states ‘Young English teenage players are technically behind their counterparts in leading countries across the world’. Appropriately, the next section reviews literature on countries such as Brazil who have created youth systems that produce technically gifted young players and how a similar system could be integrated into English football. The main findings relate to a game called Futsal and I believe introducing Futsal as an integral part of the FA’s youth development scheme would enhance the technique of English players.

Futsal v Football

Futsal – Can it make England a better football team?

Futsal is a five-a-side game, played with a smaller ball with reduced bounce that is recognised by FIFA (football’s world governing body). The playing area is smaller and constantly places players in situations where they must play under pressure in confined spaces, placing considerable demand on technique, tactical awareness and fitness (The FA, 2008). Futsal originated in Uruguay during the 1930s and today is played by over 30 million people worldwide. Former Brazilian player Goncalves (1998, p.94) states ‘Futsal is excellent for developing technique, in particular the fast movements with and without the ball’.

Literature Review

The English approach to coaching young players’ football currently neglects technical and tactical skill acquisition. As a coach, I work hard to develop my player’s technique, their understanding of the game and their ability to solve problems to encourage them to be creative, an attribute in short supply in young English players. In contrast, many young foreign players play Futsal, as its dynamics promote greater technical and tactical expertise. This is illustrated in a short case study of Futsal in Brazil. I am using a case study as it will help to gain a holistic understanding of the issues (Gratton & Jones, 2004) surrounding Futsal and how they relate to developing players.

Futsal in Brazil

In Brazil Futsal is a major part of youth development and is credited for nurturing great players. At a young age, Brazilian children are playing small sided football in parks and shanty towns and by the time they are 9 or 10 are introduced to organised Futsal at local clubs and play up to the ages of 16 before moving into football. Brazilian Coach Parreira (2007) claims the youth development programme in Brazil is essential to the success of Brazilian players.

Futsal v Football

‘When a player is nine, he is already being evolved by a club. At 19, he has already had 10 years’ organised football. That’s why Brazil have so many good players, playing in the first division of Brazil aged 19…’

A fundamental aspect that players learn from Futsal is the ability to defend and attack.

As teams consist of just 4 outfield players, each one defends and attacks as there are no predetermined positions. This allows players to develop both defensive and attacking mentalities. Tim Burns (2003), former Futsal coach, states this helps players

to become familiar with many positions as ‘all players have to attack and defend in

line with modern soccer…’ (p.7). This enables players a smoother transition into football as they are comfortable on the ball in all situations as well as enabling coaches to employ different styles of play to outwit opponents by exploiting the tactical knowledge of the players. This is an option English coaches lack as those who grow up playing football often become defence or attack specific before the age of 11,

decreasing their knowledge and motivation to learn about other positions. As Brooking states (2007) ‘If you can't play it from the back, or in tight areas, it doesn't matter how good the coach is, you're not going to make it’. This perception is reinforced by Alfred Galustian (2007), Technical Development Instructor for Japanese football, who believes England’s neglect of technique in youth development

is a major flaw. He states:

‘English players are technically weak when compared to the Spanish, Italian and French. Spanish defenders are so comfortable on the ball compared to, let’s say, John Terry or Micah Richards, the physically robust English defenders. It’s got to do with the fact that in England, the emphasis has been largely towards speed and physical strength rather than skill.’

As a player and coach of football, I try to understand where the likes of Kaka and Ronaldhino learn to execute complex skills in pressure situations. One reason is Futsal, because a smaller ball with 30% less bounce forces players to work on technique to control and move the ball quickly on the ground, rather than rely on the bounce of a ball (University of Worcester, 2007). Even Pele the greatest player of all time, developed his lightening reflexes and incredible skills playing Futsal (Fish, 1977). In his autobiography, Pele (1977) states:

Futsal v Football

‘Futsal - started outdoors, being played on small courts with reduced teams… and because of the small size of the field, it makes for a very fast game.’

Besides Pele, Ronaldo also started his football career playing Futsal. From his autobiography Ronaldo (2002) describes how he used to play bare foot after school, dreaming to be his idol, Zico.

The ball has very little bounce which

means that the ball is always on the floor… designed to encourage foot control and is credited with being one reason why Brazilian players are so skilful.’

‘Futsal is played with a size 2 ball

Today young Brazilians are dreaming of becoming their idols through playing Futsal. From these examples of great Brazilian players, there is clear evidence that Futsal is a significant element in nurturing young talent and could help change the way English players are developed. As Brooking (2007) states ‘The emphasis is on improvisation, creativity and technique at a Futsal match.’ Introducing Futsal and shifting emphasis onto technical development will serve to make England’s next generation technically better. Admittedly, for the English system to replicate the fortunes of the Brazilian system, a complete overhaul is required. If the FA require more evidence, then they will be reassured to know that across North and South America, Eastern Europe and even as far as Australia Futsal is integrated into the development of young players.

Available evidence, albeit anecdotal, does suggest that Futsal may be inexorably linked to improving the technique of young players. Futsal appears ideal, as the repetitive, but cognitive application of new techniques will allow you to develop performance to a subconscious level (Burns, 2003). Burns (2003) goes on to argue that players develop greater technical proficiency because ‘Playing Futsal allows you to touch the ball nearly twelve times more than playing soccer…’ allowing players to develop faster and more refined foot skills from making an increasing amount of decisions, potentially accelerating their learning. Ericsson et al, (1993, p.20) claim for one to become an expert at something one has to mass 10,000 hours of training.

Futsal v Football

However, I argue learning environments such as Futsal that expose players to repetition of specific motor skills may develop technical expertise in a shorter period than those who just play football. The next section supports this theory with academic evidence and is something that is investigated further in this study.

Futsal development in England

As a Futsal player, I believe Futsal should be integrated into developing young players as it promotes individual and team play in a small playing area that requires the faster distribution of the ball, forcing players to make quicker technical and tactical decisions that can be applied to the outdoor game (Burns, 2003).

In England, Futsal is at an embryonic stage. The national team has only won 1 of 49 games since its first in 2004. The FA has recently created 3 domestic regional leagues to give senior players vital regular playing experience. In spite of this, strategies to introduce Futsal to youth football have been minimal and responsibility left to the county football associations to provide coaching courses and local leagues. This needs to change and hopefully, in the light of this study, it will illuminate the potential benefits of Futsal. As Martin Oxley (2008), Project Co-ordinator of Futsal Leeds states.

‘Futsal is a fast game which improves fitness, passing and positional

play. We believe that if this version of the game is adopted at junior levels we will soon see the skills, which foreign national teams enjoy, in our

football

providing long term benefits to the domestic game.’

However, any strategy aimed at youth football requires the support of the FA, Premier League and Football League to ensure it is appropriately established. Technical director, Trevor Brooking (2007) has announced that changes are underway at grassroots level to improve the development of core technical skills but the complete transformation of English football remains a long way off. He states:

‘We want to take the intensity out of it (coaching)… do more individual ball work and concentrate on technique. With younger groups the philosophy is

Futsal v Football

about fun and just letting youngsters play… We're trying to give them a lot of small-sided playing time, so they get as much contact time as possible.’

Establishing Futsal is possible as professional clubs such as Everton and Derby County regularly coach their Academy teams the principles of football using Futsal (Burns, 2003).

Why Futsal will develop better technically and tactically gifted English players than the current system?

According to Vaeyens et al, (2007, p.395) ‘skilled athletes demonstrate decision- making skills that are superior to those of their less skilled counterparts’. They claim these decisions are underpinned by a number of perceptual-cognitive skills that are utilised during performance such as the ability to recognise and recall patterns of play, ability to sense visual cues in an opponent’s movement and accurately anticipate likely event outcomes. Demonstrating mastery levels in each of these perceptual- cognitive skills is far more likely to produce a talented sportsperson. For example, the employment of various patterns of play in Futsal is extremely common with regards to attacking and defending. Recognising each individual strategy with and without possession will improve the speed of thought and responses of the individual and team.

In Futsal, players are faced with a high proportion of small numbered situations from 1 v 1s to 4 v 4s and players who can quickly detect specific cues relating to these patterns are far more likely to anticipate event outcomes and effectively be one step ahead of their opponents. For example, an attacker who can detect weakness in an opponent’s defensive shape will be able to exploit that space before the opposition has time to react. This is supported by Vaeyens et al, (2007, p.396) who in a study of skilled youth soccer players found that ‘the elite participants spent more time fixating key areas of space that could be exploited.’ This process is even more important in Futsal, as a smaller playing area means less space to exploit, forcing players to develop quicker reactions and faster decisions to meet the constantly changing dynamics of the game.

Futsal v Football

Moreover, Futsal intensively exposes individuals and teams to learning, by repeating defensive and attacking movements and enhancing player’s memorial representations to access specific motor programmes relating to technique and tactics thereby improving performance. Vaeyens et al, (2007) conclude that the extended engagement within the domain of expertise allows athletes to develop memory skills that can trigger faster responses. Thus, time within a specific learning environment will promote superior athletes technically and cognitively.

As mentioned, decision-making skills can also be mastered through Futsal as continual scenario repetition will foster player’s response during performance at a faster rate. Needless to say, in football, with a larger number of players and greater playing area, players are hindered in developing vital perceptual-cognitive skills as individual players on average in a match touch the ball half as much as they do in Futsal. A study was carried out by Set Sport Corporation (2005, p.171) which reinforces this argument as they found that:

‘In a 40 minute Futsal match, a field player will touch the ball over 80 possessions per match. This compares to only 30 to 40 possessions per player in a full 90 minute soccer match.’

Subsequently, Futsal appears to accelerate the learning of players regarding decision- making skills through increased opportunities to form correct responses. As Weinbeck (2000) professes:

‘The benefit to a Soccer player, of playing Futsal matches under the pressure of restricted time, space and pressure, is an improvement in:

speed of decision-making, speed of anticipation and speed of perceptual and visual processing…’

In addition, Williams et al, (2004) devised a coaching strategy to improve specific decision-making skills in athletes that Futsal could adopt. The first step is to frame practices where decision-making skills are at the fore, highlighting specific cognitive skills, both in a physical and tactical context within the sport (Vickers et al, 2004). For

Futsal v Football

example, the ability to spot specific cues, anticipate specific events or retrieve memory to solve a problem.

In step two, ‘the coach designs a drill that best trains the decision under conditions that simulate those found in competition’ (Vickers et al, 2004, p.108). Vickers et al, (2004) explain this strategy applying it to badminton. In relation to step one the critical perceptual skill to be developed is the ability of an athlete to ‘see’ the movement of the opponent, develop an awareness of their movements and exploit weaknesses in those movements. Step two adopts a continuity drill, where a feeder in this example places the shuttle in a predictable manner for the athlete to respond. To simulate a competition environment, the feeder is required to move after the shuttle is set so the athlete can learn to become aware of the opponent’s movement before they play a stroke in order to exploit any weaknesses (Vickers et al, 2004). This is one example that can easily be transferred to Futsal. For example, in Futsal, a continuity drill could be used to teach players the 3 man weave where specific movement patterns are required. By repeating the drill passively and then actively, players learn precise movements in relation to their teammates and opponents and the relevant cues that will allow them to make appropriate decisions to exploit the weave as an attacking weapon. Producing effective decisions makers according to Vickers et al, (2004) helps produce better athletes. As she states ‘What is the use of perfect technique drilled to perfection if the wrong decision is made? (Vickers et al, 2004,

p.108).

Consequently, I believe due to the dynamics of Futsal, based around short patterns of play, training sessions can be delivered similarly to the way Williams et al, (2004) express, as integrating continuity and problem drills in a competitive environment will enhance player memorial representations of attacking and defensive situations. This will develop the critical perceptual-cognitive skills that Vaeyens et al, (2007) state are essential for expert performance. In conclusion I believe the academic evidence provided suggests that Futsal training as part of a player’s football development will function to produce better technical and tactical players and that the FA need to think hard about incorporating Futsal into the current youth development setup.

Research Development

Introduction to Case Study

Futsal v Football

The focus of this study has been on exploring Futsal and how, if integrated into English youth football, it could improve young player’s technical and tactical ability. The benefits of Futsal have been highlighted in the literature review, with evidence provided by authors and practitioners from countries where Futsal has become an integral part of youth development. In spite of this, I have only presented theoretical evidence, and according to Punch (2004, p.257) ‘findings and conclusions of empirical research are only as good as the data on which they are based’. Therefore, to enhance the value of this study, I intend researching Futsal as a development tool and use the subsequent findings to either concur or reject links between the theoretical ideas (Bryman, 2004) already presented.

The Purpose of the Research

The purpose of this research is to adopt a working case study to discover if Futsal provides the opportunity to better develop technical and tactical skills in young players that they can transfer to football. According to Gratton and Jones (2004, p.97), case studies are ‘used to gain this holistic understanding of a set of issues, and how they relate to a sports team… often researched using a variety of methods, over an extended period of time’. As I am a football coach working with a local under 14 team I will use players from this team to collect data. This case study will adopt a three pronged approach to data collection by generating statistical data, conducting specific conversations as well as drawing upon my own opinions.

Data will be collected by assessing player performance in two areas Futsal promotes (Cuzzetto, 2004). They are:

1. Technical ability - receiving, dribbling, distribution, finishing.

Futsal v Football

In addition, to these two areas I am also keen to observe Futsal as a tool to increase motivation and enthusiasm in young players.

Data Collection Methods

In order to collect statistical data I intend to assess 3 players on one of the variables within the two areas of development. During training sessions the 3 players will be assessed on that specific variable for 5 minutes playing Futsal, followed by 5 minutes playing football. This aspect of data collection will be quantitatively conducted. Gratton and Jones (2004, p.21) describe quantitative research as ‘The use of numerical measurement… that involves measurable quantities’. Specifically, quantitative data will be collected relating to the learning opportunities players receive in Futsal and football environments for specified variables as well as the total number of touches they amount in the same period playing Futsal and football.

Following some training sessions, I plan to hold conversations with the 3 players I am assessing as well as talk to the team as a whole to discover their thoughts on playing Futsal to see if they believe it to have had a positive impact on their development. I feel by carrying out practical research in this way using both quantitative and qualitative instruments I will produce more in-depth results that will justify any interpretations I later suggest. Multi-strategy research is complementarity whereby two research strategies are employed in order that different aspects of an investigation can be dovetailed (Hammersley, 1996). Finally, I will draw upon my personal experience of playing Futsal, which includes playing in a World Championship, alongside my coaching experience to devise rational interpretations to support the results of my research that will hopefully propose Futsal to be a suitable development tool for young football players.

Other Considerations

However, to carry out research competently, there are certain procedures I must adhere to. First of all, to gain an appropriate amount of data I will record my observations over a 7 week period. Each training session will be structured around Futsal so I can observe my players to decide whether or not Futsal positively

Futsal v Football

contributes to their development. The rationale behind observing players is that it allows behaviour to be directly observed and data to be collected on specific aspects in a natural way (Bryman, 2004).

To ensure research is conducted fairly, the 3 players assessed will be coached in the same way as the rest of the team and will have no prior information regarding the objectives of this research, to prevent any bias. As Punch (2001, p.185) states ‘In naturalistic observation, observers neither manipulate nor stimulate the behaviour of those whom they are observing.’ The process in which these 3 players will be chosen is by adopting purposeful sampling. Purposeful sampling is where subjects are selected due to specific characteristics to purposefully provide rich information (Patton, 1990). I will adopt purposeful sampling because the 3 players I analyse will need to display technical weakness in at least one variable to enable me to easily measure the benefits of Futsal in developing that weakness. For example, I may choose a player who has a low motor ability to pass a ball, coach them Futsal and discuss the benefits that player has received through the 7 weeks in developing that technique.

Throughout the 7 weeks, to ensure I meet ethical standards, I will inform my coaching colleague of the research I am conducting and make assurances that the health and safety of the players remains priority. All ethical issues relate to the researcher taking responsibility to act appropriately in account of their values and interests, the situation in which the research is being carried out, and the values and interests of the people involved (Gratton & Jones, 2004). On completing the collection of data, the study will be in a position to analyse and discuss the findings with the aim to highlight the impact Futsal has on player development and whether or not Futsal should be integrated as a method to develop technique in young English football players.

Analysis

Purpose

Results have been collected from analysing three 14 year old football players, referred to in the analysis as Nick, Tim and Andrew. Each player was selected on the grounds

Futsal v Football

that they possessed a technical or tactical weakness that I have identified since coaching them. The purpose of implementing Futsal training sessions over a 7 week period was to observe whether or not it would provide the opportunity to improve technical weaknesses. The process of data collection was the same each week recording Nick, Tim and Andrew for 5 minutes playing Futsal, followed by 5 minutes playing football. In total, over 7 weeks I analysed each player for 35 minutes playing Futsal and 35 minutes playing football. Moreover, I also recorded the number of total touches each player had over the same period and collected qualitative data on the player’s perceptions of Futsal. (Appendix 1 shows the overall results for each player).

Quantitative Analysis

Analysis of Nick’s Results

Since coaching Nick, he has demonstrated that an area for improvement in his game is his technical ability to accurately pass the ball, particularly when under pressure. Nick is not a regular in the team and is picked for his work rate, not technical ability. Therefore, I analysed Nick’s ability to pass accurately. My focus was on observing the number of opportunities Nick had to pass the ball under pressure, by this I mean an opponent makes a deliberate effort to tackle or block the pass, and the total number of opportunities to make all types of pass.

Firstly, I recorded the number of opportunities Nick passed under pressure as the ability to keep the ball is key to player development as Brooking (2007) stated. The results revealed that Nick had an increased number of opportunities to pass under pressure during Futsal where he executed 25 passes over the 7 weeks. In contrast during football Nick only executed 16 passes. Table 1.1 illustrates the number of passes Nick achieved under pressure each week playing Futsal and football. Also Table 1.2 shows how during Futsal Nick was exposed to more opportunities to develop all types of pass over the 7 weeks.

Futsal v Football

7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 Week 1 2 3 4 5 6
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
Week 1
2
3
4
5
6
7
7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

FutsalFootball

FootballFutsal

7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

1.1 Number of weekly opportunities for Nick to pass under pressure.

14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 Week 1 2 3 4 5 6
14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
Week 1
2
3
4
5
6
7
14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

FutsalFootball

FootballFutsal

14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

1.2 Number of weekly opportunities for Nick to execute all types of pass.

Overall, I recorded Nick making 64 passes in Futsal over the 7 weeks, successfully completing 41. In comparison, Nick played 29 passes in 7 weeks of football and successfully completed just 15. Table 1.3 emphasises these results illustrating Nick had more than double the amount of opportunities to develop his passing playing Futsal. These results reinforce Burns (2003) who states Futsal players are exposed to an increased number of touches, thus develop core skills at a faster rate.

Futsal v Football

Total No. of passes 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Futsal Football
Total No. of passes
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
Futsal
Football
Total No. of passes 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Futsal Football Total No.
Total No. of passes

Total No. of passes

Total No. of passes 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Futsal Football Total No.

1.3 Nick’s total number of passes

Analysis of Tim’s Results

I have coached Tim for 2 years and he has been a regular fixture in the team demonstrating good levels of technique. However, I have noticed that Tim needs to improve his decision-making skills regarding dribbling, because he does not always select the appropriate moment to dribble which is important for a midfielder to be able to attack an opponent. Therefore, I focused observations on recording the number of decisions Tim makes regarding dribbling during Futsal and football over 7 weeks. For this study I define dribbling as the forward movement of the player with the ball, and anything else recorded as ‘no dribble’.

The first aspect I analysed was the number of times Tim decided to dribble. Table 2.1 shows Tim made the decision to dribble 34 times during Futsal and just 20 times during football, thus the increased number of decisions made in Futsal allows Tim to learn when and when not to execute the dribble more promptly.

Total number of decisions to Dribble

40 35 30 25 20 Total number of decisions to Dribble 15 10 5 0
40
35
30
25
20
Total number of decisions to
Dribble
15
10
5
0
Futsal
Football

Futsal v Football

Tim is a strong passer of the ball, but developing his dribbling skills will improve his performance. As Table 2.2 suggests, to improve this skill Tim should be encouraged to play more Futsal each week as on average he executed more decisions compared to football. Table 2.3 strengthens this argument as overall Tim made 57 decisions during Futsal and just 31 in football.

Futsal Football
Futsal
Football
12 10 8 6 4 2 0 Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
Week 1
2
3
4
5
6
7
2.2 Weekly number of decisions executed.
Total No. of decisions 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Futsal Football
Total No. of decisions
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
Futsal
Football
Total No. of decisions 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Futsal Football Total No. of
Total No. of decisions

Total No. of decisions

Total No. of decisions 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Futsal Football Total No. of

2.3 Total number of decisions.

Analysis of Andrew’s Results

Andrew is a quiet player who has rarely played in the team until recently. In working with Andrew I have observed he has a technical deficiency in his ability to control the ball. Acquiring good control in football is essential as every time a player receives the

Futsal v Football

ball they require this technique to maintain possession of the ball. Specifically I analysed Andrew’s ability to control the ball in pressure situations and non-pressure situations. By ‘pressure situations’ I mean when an opponent is significantly proximate to affect the performance of the player controlling the ball.

I began by studying the number of opportunities Futsal and football provided Andrew to control the ball in non-pressure situations. As Table 3.1 indicates Futsal offers an increased number of occasions for Andrew to learn to control the ball in non-pressure situations.

6 5 4 3 2 1 0 Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
Week 1
2
3
4
5
6
7
6 5 4 3 2 1 0 Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Futsal

FutsalFootball

FootballFutsal

6 5 4 3 2 1 0 Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Futsal

3.1 Number of times each week Andrew controlled the ball in non-pressure situations.

In addition, I collected the same data focusing on the number of opportunities Andrew had to control the ball in pressure situations. As Table 3.2 shows, Futsal once again provided Andrew with a higher number of opportunities to learn to control the ball under pressure in all but one week.

6 5 4 3 Futsal Football 2 1 0 Week 1 2 3 4 5
6
5
4
3
Futsal
Football
2
1
0
Week 1
2
3
4
5
6
7

Futsal v Football

Over 7 weeks Andrew had the opportunity to control the ball 26 times in pressure situations playing Futsal compared to 14 times in football. In total Andrew controlled the ball 52 times in Futsal, successfully controlling it on 30 occasions. In contrast, he controlled it just 24 times in Football, successfully controlling it on 15 occasions as Table 3.3 displays.

30 25 20 Futsal 15 Football 10 5 0
30
25
20
Futsal
15
Football
10
5
0

No. of times controlled - Pressure

No. of times controlled - no pressure

3.3 Total number of times Andrew controlled the ball.

Learning to control the ball in all situations is a key skill to playing football and the research shows Andrew was exposed to a higher number of opportunities to do so by playing Futsal.

Total Touches

Furthermore, I recorded the total number of touches each player made in both Futsal and football over the same period to analyse overall player exposure to learning new skills. In the case of all 3 players, each one recorded touching the ball twice as much in Futsal compared to Football. Table 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3 highlight this fact.

Futsal v Football

Total No. of touches 100 90 80 70 60 50 Total No. of touches 40
Total No. of touches
100
90
80
70
60
50
Total No. of touches
40
30
20
10
0
Futsal
Football
4.1
Nick’s Total number of touches.
Total No. of touches
100
90
80
70
60
50
Total No. of touches
40
30
20
10
0
Futsal
Football
4.2
Tim’s Total Number of touches.
90
80
70
60
50
Total no. of touches
40
30
20
10
0
Futsal
Football

4.3 Andrew’s Total number of touches.

This suggests that young players, in order to gain better practice on the ball, should be encouraged to play Futsal rather than football.

Qualitative Analysis

Futsal v Football

Although statistical evidence shows Futsal gives young players an increased number

of learning opportunities to develop technique, the data could also be interpreted in

relation to potential motivational ramifications that young players incur. For example, Nick successfully passed the ball 15 times in 35 minutes playing football whereas in the same time playing Futsal successfully passed the ball 41 times. Success or failure can influence an athlete’s perception of competence and in turn determine their motivation (Vallerand & Losier, 1999) and as Nick was exposed to a higher number

of successful learning opportunities in Futsal his motivation is likely to increase. To

support this interpretation I collected the views and experiences of the 3 players on Futsal and Nick stated that ‘Futsal helps you to pass and move the ball under pressure’, showing that Nick seems to recognise the developmental benefits of Futsal.

A similar trend was also found in Andrew’s results where in Futsal he successfully

controlled the ball 38 times whereas in football he only successfully controlled the ball 15 times. Therefore, Andrew may have increased motivation playing Futsal as he saw himself control the ball successfully once a minute compared to over 2 minutes in football. Andrew perceived Futsal as beneficial, stating ‘I like it as I’m always involved’ and because of the small playing area players are increasingly open to building motivation as they get more opportunities to display their skills.

Although Tim’s results were similar in terms of successful execution, in Futsal he made a greater number of decisions regarding dribbling that will potentially increase his motivation as he gets more chance to develop this skill. I spoke to Tim about his thoughts on Futsal and he said ‘I like it because I get to beat more players and have

more time to play on the ball’. This comment supports his results. Focusing on technique, as Futsal does, will I believe increase a player’s enthusiasm for the game as

it focuses on free play an aspect Arsenal Coach Arsene Wenger (2006) believes is

essential in developing young players.

I also talked to other players in the team and the general consensus was that Futsal is an extremely useful tool to develop young players. For example, one player stated

Futsal v Football

‘My reactions are getting so much quicker as there is less time to pass the ball’. Even the goal keeper commented ‘Futsal is good for me as I get much more shots to save’.

Discussion

While my results have been collated over a short period, a clear pattern has emerged, advocating Futsal as a valuable tool to develop the technique and tactical knowledge of young football players. The pattern of the results for each player highlighted that the opportunities to develop technical and tactical elements such as passing, controlling and dribbling were twice as high during 35 minutes of Futsal compared to 35 minutes of football. This supports Vaeyens et al, (2007) who claim increased repetition of an activity will enhance players’ critical perceptual-cognitive skills such as improving memory, recognising patterns of play and anticipating likely event outcomes that enables players to form correct responses more effectively.

The results also hint at a link between football player development and Futsal as by the end of the research Andrew had become a regular player. This link remains inconclusive until further research over an extensive period of time is conducted. However, what was conclusive was that, regardless of the improvement each player made over the 7 weeks from exposure to Futsal, the consistently higher number of opportunities each player experienced would undoubtedly provide the players a far better environment in which to develop. This substantiates research by Vaeyens et al, (2007) who propose extended engagement within the domain of expertise allows performers to develop mastery performance. Mastery performance consists of athletes having highly refined decisions making skills and to develop this attribute in athletes training must be designed to combine cognitive and physical training as one as stated by Vickers et al, (2004). Thus, young football players should be placed in a Futsal environment, as the dynamics of Futsal not only develop key physical skills such as passing or dribbling but also vital perceptual-cognitive skills, such as the ability to spot cues and make better decisions leading to superior performance.

Personally, I will continue to integrate Futsal into my coaching as I believe it develops core motor skills and perceptual-cognitive skills in players that can be transferred to football. In addition, the literary evidence and research findings I have

Futsal v Football

provided have identified Futsal as the ideal development tool to develop technique in young players. If it is good enough for players such as Ronaldhino, I think it is good enough for English players.

‘The way I control the ball, that’s where it’s helped me a lot’ (Ronaldhino,

2007).

Moreover, this study has demonstrated high credibility as the results have visibly shown the benefits of Futsal in developing young football players. Consequently, I hope that, in the near future, the FA introduces Futsal leagues and accredited Futsal coaching courses to enhance standards of youth development across England. By implementing these ideas through county FAs and schools up and down England, it will facilitate better coaching and an increased number of learning opportunities for young players to develop into technically superior players.

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(Accessed on January 12 th 2008).

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Appendix

1. Nick’s Overall Results

Futsal v Football

Name of player

Technical/tactical areas of development

Total (over 35 minutes for both)

Nick

Distribution

Futsal

Football

 

No. of successful passes - No pressure

26

7

 

No. of successful. passes - pressure

15

8

 

No. of failed passes - No pressure

13

6

 

No. of failed passes - pressure

10

10

 

Number of

64

31

passes

 

Success rate – no pressure

26/39 66%

7/13 54%

 

Success rate - pressure

15/25 45%

8/16 50%

 

Overall Success

35/64 55%

15/29 52%

Rate

 

Number of

29

14

additional

touches

 

Total Touches

88

43

2. Tim’s Overall Results

Futsal v Football

Name of player

Technical / Tactical area to develop

Total (over 35 minutes for both)

Tim

Dribbling – decision-making

Futsal

Football

 

Successful dribble & right decision

18

10

 

Unsuccessful dribble, but right decision

5

3

 

Unsuccessful dribble & wrong decision

11

7

 

No dribble – right decision

23

11

 

Number of dribbles/decisions

57

31

 

Right decision

46/57 81%

24/31 77%

 

Success and right decision

41/57 72%

21/31 68%

 

Number of additional touches

36

17

 

Total Touches

93

46

Futsal v Football

3. Andrew’s Overall Results

Name of player

Technical / Tactical area to develop

Total (over 35 minutes for both)

Andrew

Receiving

Futsal

Football

 

Good control - No pressure

20

10

 

Good control – pressure

18

5

 

Bad control – No pressure

6

4

 

Bad control – pressure

8

5

 

Number of times controlled

52

24

 

Success rate – no pressure

20/26 77%

10/14 71%

 

Success rate - pressure

18/26 69%

5/10 50%

 

Overall success rate

38/52 73%

15/24 63%

 

Number of additional touches

30

16

 

Total Touches

81

40

* Article provided by Sion Kitson (University of Bath Futsal Team)