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Head Coach Corner: 'Becoming a True Futsal Player'

by Nathan Linley

In a new feature for Head Coach Sergi Saldana offers his views, advice and arguments around the sport of futsal. These insights are of a personal opinion and relate the Sergi’s time in futsal as a player and Head Coach of futsal clubs in Spain and now England.

Here is his first of an exclusive monthly feature – enjoy!

‘Becoming a true futsal player’

When people talk about futsal the first thing that comes to their mind is that it is a very fast game, electrifying and with very good technical individual players. It is true that these elements/factors are a part of futsal, but from my point of view, they are not the most important. Let me explain…

When I see clubs teaching individual technique (like different kind of dribbles, controls or running with the ball) to children as a basic element of futsal, the first thing that I think is that to prioritise these elements over things such as intelligence, ability to read the game, etc. is erroneous.

When emphasis is placed solely on these elements, we will succeed only when in possession of the ball on an individual level. However, as a team we will fail if we neglect other elements like to play and defend as a collective.

For me, the best futsal player is not the one who is the most extraordinary dribbler. For me a good futsal player is a complete player. And what makes a complete player? The one who has the necessary technical abilities for this sport but most importantly: to be intelligent. The one who understands the game, can read what is happening and can anticipate what is next.

When a player is intelligent and is able to read what is going to happen, the individual technical abilities are not as important. When I perceive what is happening and I know what I need to do before I receive the ball, this allows me to intervene effectively at the moment that I have to. And not only this, on a defensive level I will be better and I won’t need to be the strongest or fastest player. This is because if I know what I need to do before it happens, and I will therefore be much better positioned.

Richardinho [left]

Ricardinho is probably the best player in the world, but why is he? Because he has extraordinary technical abilities, but in addition to this, you have to take into account his intelligence on the court: he knows perfectly when he has to play 1vs1; he knows when he has to shoot, pass the ball to the back post, dribble or pass the ball back to start again.  In summary, he is not just one of the best players for his undoubted technical abilities, but also for his intelligence and capacity to interpret the game and each action.  

For me, Ricardinho is an exception because, apart from him, the best players at the elite level are those that have shown to be intelligent and to understand the game perfectly. Kike Boned or Daniel Ibañes, undoubtedly top players, have never stood out for their abilities with the ball or for their physical condition, but they always have competed at the highest level. This for me is the real profile of a futsal player if a person wants to consider themselves a talented player in this sport.

Kike Boned [centre]

Therefore, to conclude, you cannot confuse this sport with technical ability only, and you have to teach how to think and make sure that your players understand what they are doing and especially why. To give a few examples here, to teach the player to identify where the free spaces are, how to create them, orientation of the body, peripheral vision, defensive and offensive positions in relation to my teammates, opponents and my dominant foot, etc. Definitely, to be a good futsal player you have to understand this amazing sport and all the aspects that surround it.


Join me next month for my next topic and follow me @sergisaldanya