Here you will find some common terms used in futsal and a short explanation of their meanings. Please leave a comment if you want any other terms explained.

Attacking System – The rules and principles of how a team attacks. The main systems use the formations; 4-0, 3-1 and 2-2.

Back door cut – A feinting movement behind a defender, who is trying to anticipate, in order to open a passing line.

Between the lines – An attacking action where the attacker occupies the space between the opponent’s defensive lines.

Ball Time – Movement by the defender to close the ball carrier during the trajectory of a pass rather than once the attacker is in possession.

Block – An attacking action where a player stands in the trajectory of a defender to impede them from following their direct opponent.

Closed defence – A defence formed of a compact block that engages the attack deep in their defensive half (Usually 10-12m from their own goal).

Counter-Attack – Attacking action after change of possession (transition) to arrive at the opponent’s goal with speed, before the 4 defenders are in a position to defend (i.e. behind the line of the ball). Generally, a 1/3 of all goals are scored from these situations and it is the most efficient way to score of all the 3 types of attack.

Counter attacks happen frequently in futsal

Counter attacks happen frequently in futsal


Defensive height – This is the position on the court where the defence engages the attack (e.g. ¾ court, halfway line, 12m). This is a separate concept from defensive pressure as you can have a high defensive height without putting pressure on the ball and vice versa.

Defensive line – This is an imaginary horizontal line that goes across the court at the height of each defender. It is possible to have two or more defenders in the same line. So if you are defending 1-1-2-1 (including the goalkeeper) you have 4 defensive lines and your pivot is in the first defensive line. The more defensive lines you have the more defensive cover you have.

Delaying – When a player acts to slow down the attack or defence to allow their teammates to recover and take their correct positions.

Direct Opponent – Defender’s nearest opponent and player they are marking.

Defence with Exchanges – A positional defence that uses pressing and is individual but utilises marking exchanges of opponents.

Exit the press – Pre-established rotation by the attacking team from a goal kick to escape the pressing of the opponent’s defence.

Fast Attack – Last phase of attacking transition when you try to attack the opponent’s goal with speed when all the opposition defenders are behind the ball but they are not defensively organised.

Feint – When an attacker without the ball uses a sudden change of speed or direction to lose their marker and gain space. Very important resource in futsal due to lack of space and frequency of 1v1 situations.

Fly Goalkeeper – When the goalkeeper comes into the opponent’s half to take part in a positional attack and create numerical superiority. Often used at the end of the game by the losing team to try to make a comeback.

Barca using the fly goalkeeper

Barca using the fly goalkeeper

Isolation – Attacking situation where the team-mates of the ball carrier move away to create a 1v1 situation without defensive cover.

Opening – First phase of attacking transition. This is the first pass after possession is recuperated.

Man to Man Defence – A positional defence where each player is assigned responsibility for an opponent and this is their main reference point for their positioning.

Numerical superiority/inferiority/equality – Whether in attack or defence, when we have superior/inferior/equal numbers of players in a certain spatial area.

Passing Line – The lane between the ball carrier and a team-mate. If there is no defender cutting this then it is an open passing line, otherwise it is a closed passing line. In attack we want to open them and in defence to close them.

Parallel – A vertical (forward) straight pass on the wing that is usually of medium height to prevent interception, facilitate a 1sttime shot and prevent the ball running out of play.

Pivot – Player who plays furthest forward. Often physically strong and good at playing with their back to the opponent’s goal.

Pressure – Individual defensive action which relates to the distance between the defender and the ball carrier. The closer the defender is the more space and passing lines they cover.

Pressing – The collective action of a defence with aim to put pressure on the ball carrier, their teammates and the passing lines. You can press in any part of the court, for example full-court, ¾ court or ½ court.

Applying good ball pressure

Applying good ball pressure

Positional Attack – Attacking when all the opponent’s defenders are behind the ball and organised defensively. Generally, a 1/3 of all goals are scored from these situations.

Positional Superiority/Inferiority – Due to the position of the players there is an advantage or disadvantage whether in attack or defence.

Recovery – It is the action of players running back to be in position to defend their goal when their team loses possession.

Rotations – When the attacking team interchanges positions and makes movements into space while maintaining positional balance. They are used during a positional attack with the objective to create space through disorganising the opponent’s defence whilst maintaining defensive balance in case possession is lost. These co-ordinated movements can be pre-determined or improvised.

Russian Change – When four players are substituted for four others all at the same time. Made famous by teams from Russia.


Screen – When an attacker cuts (runs) between the ball carrier and their direct opponent. Used to relieve the pressure on the ball.


Set Plays/Set Pieces – Pre-rehearsed moves from a dead ball situation such as a corner, kick-in, free-kick and kick-off. Generally, nearly a 1/3 of all goals are scored from these situations.


Strong Side – The side of the court where the ball is and the defence is concentrated. The weak side is the opposite side.


 Sweeper– Outfield player who plays closest to their own goal. Usually good reader of the game and strong physically. Alternatively known simply as a defender.

Transition – The moment when possession changes from one team to another. Often a counter attack occurs after this as the defending team is not in position.

Winger – Player who plays on the wings. Often fast and with good 1v1 dribbling abilities.

Zonal Defence – A positional defence where each player is responsible for defending a spatial area (zone).