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5-a-side vs futsal: What’s the difference?

One of the most played sports on the planet, small-sided football is regularly enjoyed by players of all ages and skill levels. Accessible at every age, this popular form of football is played in schools, university leagues and at professional levels. Fun and fast-paced, small-sided football comes in all shapes and sizes, offering most players a unique challenge and addictive form of exercise to get involved in. In its most popular forms, small-sided football consists of 5-a-side football and futsal football, but what’s the difference? 

In this blog, we’ll be introducing you to the main differences between 5-a-side and futsal, including the different equipment you’ll need to play each type of football. So, if you’re wondering whether you should play one or the other, we’re here to help by filling in some of the missing information.

What is 5-a-side football?

The most popular type of small-sided football in our country is 5-a-side football. On the surface this game appears to share many qualities with the widely-followed and played 11-a-side football but, as any regular player will tell you, the skills required to win are very different. With more of a focus on quick, risky plays, 5-a-side sets itself apart from the traditional game by its smaller pitch and faster action.

If you’d like to know more about the differences between 5-a-side and 11-a-side, check out our blog.

What is futsal?

While you’re likely already familiar with 5-a-side football, futsal is not so widely known or played, despite the fact it has been recognised by FIFA as an official type of football. Made popular in countries including Brazil for many of the same reasons 5-a-side has been added to the UK’s list of favourite sports, futsal football requires only five people per team, a small indoor space and a football to be played. More than anything, however, futsal is fun. Fast-paced, full of quick decisions and plenty of goals, this version of football requires a high level of fitness and skill to play professionally, and remains a great choice for newbies looking for a fun way to get into football.

What is the difference between football and futsal?

While 5-a-side football and futsal may seem very similar on the surface (likely due to both versions being played with five members on each team) there are actually a number of important differences between the two types of small-sided football. Significant differences, such as ball size and match length, make the flow of play feel very different, allowing players to create intelligent strategies and utilise skills unique to each version of the game.

Match length: Both 5-a-side football and futsal are played in two halves but, while the former is made up of two 30 minute halves, the latter is significantly shorter with only 20 minute halves. On top of this, the timer in 5-a-side runs constantly, with stoppage time added to the end of the match when necessary, while futsal follows the more accurate method of pausing the timer during stoppages and restarting when play resumes.

Ball size and bounce: As an indoor sport, futsal usually requires a heavier, size 4 football with very little bounce. This helps to control the ball throughout the game, ensuring it won’t bounce higher than the players’ heads or more than once. This is different from the ball used in 5-a-side, which is most often a size 5 ball. This can be changed for 5-a-side matches played indoors however, where a heavier ball is recommended.

Pitch size: Despite the fact that both 5-a-side and futsal football have the same number of players on the pitch, they are played on different sized pitches. 5-a-side, played on a 36.5m long and 27.5m wide pitch (40 by 30 yards) has a wider pitch, challenging defenders to widen their covered area against attackers. Futsal pitch size, on the other hand, is 40m by 20m, making for a longer, thinner playing space. This has the effect of making attacking with the ball significantly more difficult, making nimble footwork and fast decision-making a necessity.

Goal size: To make the task of the attacker even more difficult, the goal size in a futsal football game is only 3m by 2m. In comparison, the goal in a 5-a-side match is wider and shorter, measuring 4.88m by 1.2m. These differences completely change the skills needed by the goalkeeper and attackers, both requiring plenty of training to get used to.

Is futsal harder than football?

While futsal football is not necessarily more difficult than traditional 5-a-side football, it certainly requires a different skill set. With more focus on attacking to heighten the number of shots on goal, which in itself is incredibly difficult due to the goalkeeper being able to reach each corner of the net, futsal represents the perfect chance to sharpen decision making skills, fast footwork and attacking plays.

This being said, 5-a-side is by no means a slow version of football. Played faster and more aggressively than traditional 11-a-side, a 5-a-side match is defined by action and plenty of solo plays. Overall, both types of small-sided football place a big emphasis on lightning fast reaction times and swift footwork but, with a wider pitch and goal size, 5-a-side requires a strong defence while futsal focuses more on attack.


At Avec Sport, we love every form of football and encourage every player to try out everything from small-sided football, like 5-a-side to futsal, to the traditional 11-a-side game. You never know which of the different types of football you’ll naturally excel at and which game you’ll have the most fun in until you try. If you’re ready to get involved, either by joining a local club or even by setting up a game at work, take a look through the football teamwear and training wear available at Avec Sport. Designed to enhance performance, our football kits offer premium quality at low prices, giving everyone the opportunity to get involved.