Futsal improves player soccer skills better than walled soccer for both offensive and defensive skills training.
As an attacking futsal player, there are no walls to save errant passes. There are no walls to stop long balls. There are no walls to rebound errant shots. There are no walls against which to pin the ball or your opponent. There are no walls to help you if you lack the feinting skills to beat a defender. There are no walls to save you if your teammates are not moving into space to support you. In general, you must control the ball, use proper touch and technique, use correct pace, send accurate service, and truly work dynamic combinations.
As a futsal defender, you can 'face up' on an oncoming player just like in outdoor soccer (there is no wall pass to beat you). You can let errant passes go out of bounds to win the ball (the proper result of your opponent's mistakes). Goalkeepers and defenders can concentrate on proper shot blocking angles. You do not need to worry about long overhead balls which should go out of bounds. You can drive an oncoming player into the side to break up break-aways or outnumbered breaks. In general, you can train and perfect the defensive techniques which apply to outdoor soccer. You don't waste time working on defending against phantom players (i.e. walls).
Consider some of the key problems with the following typical hockey-rink style indoor soccer scenarios:
Question: In hockey-rink soccer, what happens when a child bounces a ball against a wall in order to beat an opponent?
The child advances the ball past a defender when there is a wall available without the need or effort of feinting, chopping, or chipping. Hockey rink soccer supporters defend this as a useful simulation of passing to a teammate who subsequently one-times the ball as part of a 'give-and-go'. Futsal sees this as a lost opportunity to work on skills to beat defenders (i.e. never waste an opportunity to work on the skills required for the outdoor game).
Question: In hockey-rink soccer, what happens when a child bounces a wall-pass to a teammate?
The child advances the ball to a teammate when there's a wall available without the need or effort of passing. Hockey rink soccer supporters defend this as a useful simulation of passing to a teammate who subsequently one-times the ball to the forward-most member of a 'triangle'. Futsal believes the best pass is to a live player. You should be developing dynamic combinations of moving players who move into space. The player with the ball looks for moving teammates and anticipates those movements. Do not assume a stationary target (i.e. the wall) is always there ready for your pass. You need to be trained on the realities of the outdoor game and your teammates need to learn how to support you.
Question: What happens when a child blasts a shot against a wall so an onrushing teammate can score on the anticipated rebound?
The child creates scoring opportunities when there is a wall available to either side of the goal without the need to make an accurate shot. While some soccer aficionados label this a useful exercise others feel it is best to practice taking accurate scoring shots.
Question: What happens when a child beats a defender by 'dumping the ball into the corner' (á la NHL) and chasing it?
The child beats a defender when there is a wall available without fear of the ball rolling out of bounds without the need or effort of passing or dribbling. Futsal supporters argue that players should always be reinforcing the need to control the ball and keep it in play (i.e. never waste a touch).
It should be apparent that there are serious problems with the above scenarios in terms of developing proper technique for the 'real' game of outdoor soccer:
1. These indoor soccer techniques assume that a wall is available. If there is no wall available, then these wall-based skills have questionable value.
2. These so-called 'wall skills' can account for a frighteningly high percentage of the touches in a game. Therefore, the quality of the time spent in terms of developing useful outdoor soccer skills is limited.
3. Playing with walls introduces a real danger to the child. What happens when a player pins his/her body against the boards either to advance a ball past a defender (who is also pinned against the boards) or to stop his opponent from advancing? And what can happen when players run at full speed toward the boards? Real horror stories abound.
Futsal places a premium on control and technique. Take away the walls and you can still have as much fun as walled soccer. But there are far more quality touches and repetitions which directly translate to the outdoor game. With futsal, you make better use of your time and money.