A Buyer's Guide for Playing Futsal With Protective Gear

Dec 21, 2022

For most North American soccer players, entering the winter season means less time outdoors and more indoor training. But for many, that means playing futsal (or other variants of indoor soccer), which differs from traditional field play. Many futsal players keep essential protective gear off their bodies because they feel it’s unnecessary—unwise thinking.

Futsal injuries occur, and it’s crucial to protect oneself with the proper protective gear. This post will serve as a buyer’s guide for those playing futsal in the winter.

Importance of soccer protective gear in futsal

Futsal isn’t soccer’s “mini-me.” It can be as aggressive and intense as a regular 11 vs. 11 match on a standard pitch. The intensity can be higher, especially for newbies and the unfamiliar. The confines of a futsal court and the style of play can be challenging at first—this isn’t indoor soccer.

Futsal conditions that can contribute to soccer injuries

  • Hard floor—Futsal usually takes place on a hard court often made with plastic, vinyl, or some other synthetic material, not grass or turf. As you’d imagine, falls, slides, and tackles on these surfaces will feel less cushy than a fall on grass.
  • Smaller space—Futsal is played in small spaces. It’s one of the game's defining features. Naturally, less space among players increases the risk of collisions.
  • Faster pace—With traditional soccer, there’s broader ball movement since there’s more space to move the ball. In futsal, players pass and kick the ball a lot more simply because there isn’t as much space to play with. That faster pace can contribute to overexertion or cutting movements that may lead to injury.

Futsal players are no strangers to common soccer injuries, either. There’s always a risk for concussions due to collisions with other players or falls, but leg injuries happen more frequently. Some common futsal leg injuries include ankle and hamstring sprains, shin splints, and ACL ruptures.

Soccer concussion headgear

Yep, concussions happen in futsal too. But they’re not as prevalent in the sport since the ball used in futsal is lighter, and because players rarely use headers in the game anyway. So that’s good news.

Of course, a “low concussion risk” doesn’t mean “no concussion risk,” and it doesn’t hurt to protect the head with soccer concussion headgear. That’s especially true if a player has recently suffered a concussion or has a history of brain injuries. Our ExoShield headguard, rated number one by a Virginia Tech Helmet Lab study, can help reduce impact forces to the head by 84 percent. That translates to an even lower concussion risk.

Tops and body wear

Fortunately, upper body injuries in futsal don’t happen much, either. Futsal is a passing game with ample dribbling and less of long shots and crosses of traditional soccer. In other words, the ball stays on the ground most of the time, safeguarding the body from impacts.

Accidental kicks and falls happen, and that’s where a player might have some bruising (although it’s usually mild). You can add some soccer protective layers to keep the body bruise-free.

Chest protection

For girls and women who play futsal, there’s the odd chance of suffering a blow to the chest, which could lead to a breast injury. They’re often mild but nagging. Wearing an armored crop top can prevent these injuries. Our BodyShield armored crop top contains padding that reduces the impact of ball shots and elbows (or kicks) that could result in a breast injury.

Padded jerseys

Futsal isn’t a game of excessing diving, although falls and tackles can happen. It doesn’t hurt to wear a padded jersey or undershirt, such as our ExoShield jerseys or BodyShield undershirts. They also have padding that cushions impact forces, whether from contact with a player or the ground.

Arm sleeves

Arm injuries are even rarer in futsal, although a hard fall on the arm could result in some bruising or strains. An arm sleeve like our BodyShield Arm Guards comes with elbow padding to support and protect against arm bruising and pain.

Goalkeeper gloves

If you’ve seen a few futsal games, either in person or on T.V., you’ve probably noticed that not many goalkeepers wear gloves.

That’s because the futsal ball is smaller than your average ball used for regular soccer. Its smaller size means the goalkeeper can control it better, and there’s a lower likelihood of getting injured.

Not wearing gloves allows you to feel the ball better, making it even easier for goalkeepers to control. Of course, one of the reasons why goalkeepers wear gloves in regular soccer is to prevent hand injuries.

So goalkeeper gloves are optional for futsal, but you can stick to a more straightforward pair. You don’t need heavy-duty gloves or fingerspines for futsal.

Pants and legwear

The legs need the most protection in futsal. One Spanish study found that futsal had some of the highest leg injury rates, and it’s unsurprising due to the nature of the game.

Regular soccer has a fair share of headers, aerial play, crosses, and so forth, plays where the ball is in the air. Futsal is almost strictly a ground game. Tight passes, quick dribbling, short runs—virtually all the action takes place on the court. Naturally, that gives rise to moments where players can get tackled or make bad cutting moves that can cause painful leg injuries. That’s why the proper soccer protective gear for the legs is essential when playing futsal.

Padded Leggings

Goalkeepers should consider wearing padded leggings for futsal. There’s the odd time you’ll have to jump in the air for the ball, and plenty of times, you will dive forward or to the side to make a save. Also, expect to have forwards attack and occasionally make contact with you on a break.

These scenarios can give rise to leg injuries such as bruising, contusions, sprains and strains. Padded leggings such as our ExoShield pants contain impact-resistant materials that cushion the impact of falls and blows. That’s especially important for goalkeepers since they still will perform some acrobatics in and out of a futsal net.

Padded Shorts

Padded shorts for “field” positions are a must. There’s still a great deal of sliding and some tackling in futsal. Remember, a futsal court isn’t made with grass, so it doesn’t hurt to wear padded shorts that can minimize the impact of player-to-ground contact. Our BodyShield Sliders offer that protection since they, too, contain impact-resistant materials that absorb and reduce impact forces on the body.

Shin Guards (and Leg Guards)

Shin guards are must-haves for obvious reasons, and playing futsal doesn’t give you free rein to avoid wearing them. There’s more to kick in futsal—you don’t want to end up with a brutal shin injury (or… “shinjury”) when you could have protected it, so wear it!

With that said, we recommend using one of our BodyShield leg guards over your shin guards. They come with a pocket that secures your shin guard so that it doesn’t slide and expose your shin. Even better, the leg guard comes with padding that absorbs up to 90% of impact forces, giving your shins added protection from injury.

Fit for futsal

Playing futsal is one of the best things you can do as a soccer player during the winter. Aside from staying in game shape during the winter, futsal is a killer means of developing crucial soccer skills. Want to level up your ball control, passing ability, dribbling skills, and soccer IQ? Start playing futsal - most of the greats honed their skills this way.

Of course, ensure you’re stepping on that hard futsal court with the proper protective gear. If you do, you can be confident that you’ll spend your time leveling up instead of wasting time on the bench.

Looking for more tips on safety and performance in soccer? Check out our blog for more insights.
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