Soccer, with its fast paced, intense gameplay is recognized as the world’s most popular sport. But what happens when you take this addicting sport indoors? Does it change the dynamics of the game? Does it enhance the experience, or change it altogether?
To find out, we’ll explore the differences between indoor soccer and regular soccer, examining the rules, strategies, and overall gameplay of each variant. So lace up your boots, grab your favorite ball, and join us as we delve into the intricacies of indoor vs outdoor soccer.
While both versions of the sport involve kicking a ball into a goal, there are many differences between the two. Let’s briefly explore each version of the game, before we explore the differences between them. If you’d like a refresher on indoor soccer, read this article.
Indoor Vs Outdoor Football
|Feature||Indoor Soccer||Outdoor Soccer|
|Playing surface||Hardwood or synthetic surface||Natural grass or artificial turf|
|Ball||Size 5||Size 5|
|Number of players||5-7 players per team (including the goalkeeper)||11 players per team (including the goalkeeper)|
|Rules||Relaxed rules, including no offsides||Strict rules, including offsides|
|Game format||Shorter games, typically two 25-minute halves||Longer games, typically two 45-minute halves|
|Governing bodies||World Minifootball Federation (WMF), Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)||FIFA|
|Popular leagues and championships||Major Arena Soccer League (MASL), Liga Nacional de Fútbol Sala (LNFS), and Premier Futsal||English Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, and FIFA World Cup|
|Shoes||Patterned, gum rubber soles||Cleats/studs on the sole|
|Skills||Ball control, quick thinking||Endurance, tactical learning|
Field: Indoor soccer is played on a smaller, enclosed field, often inside a sports complex or arena. The field is usually around 100 feet by 50 feet, with walls or boards around the edges to keep the ball in play.
Ball: The ball used in indoor soccer is the same as the outdoor soccer ball, usually size 5.
Players: Each team consists of 5-7 players, including a goalkeeper. Substitutions are allowed at any time, and each team is usually allowed a certain number of substitutions per game.
- Players are allowed to use the walls and boards to their advantage.
- There is no offside rule.
- Two-line rule: Indoor soccer has a “two-line rule” where players cannot pass the ball over two lines, from one end of the field to the other, without it touching another player or the wall. This rule encourages more active and dynamic gameplay.
- Kick-ins: If the ball goes out of bounds, it is returned to play by a kick-in. The ball must be kicked back into play from the sideline.
- Fouls: Like in outdoor soccer, fouls are called for any contact made against an opponent.
- Free kicks: If a foul is committed, the opposing team is awarded a free kick, which is taken from the spot of the foul.
Game format: The game is usually divided into two 20-30 minute halves, depending on the league or tournament rules. Indoor soccer is much faster-paced and higher-scoring than outdoor soccer, due to the smaller field size and fewer players.
Field: Regular soccer, also known as outdoor soccer, is played on a larger field without walls or boards. The field can vary in size, but is usually between 110 yards by 70 yards and 130 yards by 100 yards.
Ball: The ball used in outdoor soccer is the same size as the indoor soccer ball, usually size 5.
Players: Each team consists of 11 players, including a goalkeeper. Substitutions are allowed, but are usually limited to a certain number per game or half.
- Off-side rule: The offside rule prevents attacking players from getting behind the defense before receiving the ball.
- Goal kicks: When the ball goes out of bounds over the goal line in outdoor soccer, the defending team is awarded a goal kick, which is taken from within their own penalty area.
- Corner kicks: When the ball goes out of bounds over the goal line but was last touched by a defender in outdoor soccer, the attacking team is awarded a corner kick.
- Goalkeeper restrictions: The goalkeeper is not allowed to handle the ball outside of their designated penalty area.
- Throw-ins: When the ball goes out of bounds, it is returned to play by a throw-in. The ball must be thrown in with both hands from behind the head and delivered from the point where it crossed the touchline.
- Fouls: Fouls are called for any contact made against an opponent, such as tripping, pushing, or holding. Players can also be penalized for offside, which occurs when an attacking player is closer to the opponent’s goal than the ball and the second-to-last defender.
- Free kicks: If a foul is committed, the opposing team is awarded a free kick, which can be taken from the spot of the foul or from a designated distance away.
Game format: The game is usually divided into two 45 minute halves, with a 15 minute break in between. Outdoor soccer may seem slower paced compared to indoor soccer, but it is still an action-packed, energetically played game.
Difference between Indoor and Outdoor Soccer
Shoes: Indoor soccer shoes have a flat, non-marking rubber sole that provides excellent traction on the smooth indoor surfaces. In contrast, outdoor soccer shoes have cleats or studs on the bottom to provide traction on grass or turf. We discuss indoor soccer shoes in detail in our blog. You can read about the best ones here.
Shin guards: Shin guards are required for both indoor and outdoor soccer to protect players from injury, but the design can be slightly different. Indoor soccer shin guards are typically lighter and less bulky than outdoor shin guards, as they do not need to provide as much protection against tackles on the harder outdoor surfaces.
2. Field Size
The most obvious difference between indoor and outdoor soccer is the field size. Indoor soccer is played on a smaller field, usually around 100 feet by 50 feet, while outdoor soccer is played on a larger field, usually between 110 yards by 70 yards and 130 yards.
The smaller size of the indoor soccer field allows for a faster-paced game with more scoring opportunities, while the larger size of the outdoor soccer field promotes endurance and requires players to cover more ground.
Indoor soccer teams consist of 5-7 players, including a goalkeeper, while outdoor soccer teams consist of 11 players, including a goalkeeper. The smaller number of players in indoor soccer allows for more space on the field and a faster-paced game, while the larger number of players in outdoor soccer requires more teamwork and strategic positioning.
The rules of indoor soccer are often more relaxed than outdoor soccer. In indoor soccer, players are allowed to use walls and boards to their advantage, and there is no offside rule. This allows for more creative gameplay and scoring opportunities. Outdoor soccer has more strict rules, with no walls or boards allowed and an offside rule to prevent unfair advantages.
5. Game Format
Indoor soccer games are usually shorter than outdoor soccer games. Indoor soccer games are usually divided into two 20-30 minute halves, while outdoor soccer games are divided into two 45 minute halves. The shorter game format of indoor soccer allows for more games to be played in a shorter amount of time and keeps the players on their toes.
6. Governing Bodies
Indoor soccer is governed by several different organizations, including the World Minifootball Federation (WMF), and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), which recognizes only futsal as the official form of indoor soccer.
7. Popular Leagues and Championships
Indoor soccer has several popular leagues and championships around the world. One of the most well-known indoor soccer leagues is the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) in the United States, which features teams from across the country. Other popular indoor soccer leagues include the Liga Nacional de Fútbol Sala (LNFS) in Spain and the Premier Futsal league in India.
In outdoor soccer, there are numerous leagues and championships around the world, with the most popular being the English Premier League, La Liga in Spain, and the Bundesliga in Germany. The biggest international tournament in outdoor soccer is the FIFA World Cup, which takes place every four years and attracts millions of fans from around the globe.
Since both versions of the game are played in slightly different ways, it is a good idea to compare the skills that can be developed by playing wither one. Some common skills prized in both games are:
- Shooting and scoring: Outdoor soccer provides many opportunities for shooting and scoring goals, which can help develop shooting skills and improve a player’s ability to score in a variety of situations.
- Communication and teamwork: Both are team sports that require players to communicate effectively with their teammates to coordinate their movements and create scoring opportunities.
Indoor Soccer Skills
Indoor soccer, is a fast-paced and skill-intensive sport that can help develop a range of soccer skills. Here are some of the key skills that can be developed by playing indoor soccer:
- Ball control: The smaller playing surface and heavier ball used in indoor soccer require players to have excellent ball control skills. This includes dribbling, passing, and receiving the ball in tight spaces.
- Quick thinking: The speedy nature of the game that requires players to make quick decisions and react quickly to changes. This can help develop extremely valuable quick thinking and decision-making skills.
- Agility and balance: Players need to be able to change direction quickly and maintain their balance in tight spaces.
Outdoor Soccer Skills
Outdoor soccer also requires a wide range of physical and mental skills. Here are some of the key skills that can be developed by playing outdoor soccer:
- Endurance and stamina: Outdoor soccer requires players to cover a large playing area, often for extended periods of time. This requires good cardiovascular fitness and stamina.
- Speed and agility: Outdoor soccer also involves a lot of running, sprinting, and changes of direction, requiring players to have good speed and agility.
- Ball passing: Outdoor soccer requires good ball passing skills to move the ball effectively around the field and create scoring opportunities.
- Tactical awareness: Outdoor soccer is a team sport that requires players to be aware of their position on the field and the positions of their teammates and opponents. This requires good tactical awareness and decision-making skills.
Similarities between Indoor and Outdoor Soccer
Despite their differences, indoor and outdoor soccer share some similarities. Both versions of the sport require players to kick a ball into a goal, and both require teamwork, strategy, and skill. The basic rules and skills of soccer are the same regardless of whether it is played indoors or outdoors.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Indoor vs Outdoor Soccer
Advantages of indoor soccer include the ability to play year-round regardless of weather, a faster-paced game with more scoring opportunities, and a smaller field size that allows for more space and creativity. However, indoor soccer can also lead to more injuries due to the walls and boards, and there is less emphasis on endurance and stamina.
Advantages of outdoor soccer include a more traditional and widely recognized version of the sport, a larger field size that promotes endurance and teamwork, and a greater emphasis on endurance and stamina. However, outdoor soccer is weather-dependent and may not be able to be played year-round in certain areas.
Where is Outdoor Soccer Most Popular?
- Brazil: Soccer is the national sport of Brazil, and the country has produced some of the greatest players in the history of the game, including Pelé and Ronaldo.
- Argentina: Argentina is another country with a deep love of soccer, and has produced some of the most skilled and passionate players, such as Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi.
- Spain: Soccer is an integral part of Spanish culture, and the country is home to some of the world’s most successful and popular clubs, such as Real Madrid and Barcelona.
- England: Soccer has a long and rich history in England, and the country is home to the English Premier League, one of the most popular and competitive soccer leagues in the world.
- Germany: Germany is renowned for its disciplined and efficient style of play, and is home to some of the most successful and popular clubs in Europe, such as Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.
- Italy: Italy has a rich soccer tradition and is home to some of the most stylish and tactically astute teams in the world, such as Juventus and AC Milan.
- France: France has a vibrant soccer culture and has produced some of the most creative and technically gifted players, such as Zinedine Zidane and Kylian Mbappé.
Where is Indoor Soccer Most Popular?
Surprisingly, or maybe not surprisingly, most countries where soccer is renowned, are also home to the most enthusiastic indoor soccer fans.
- US: While it may not be as popular as outdoor soccer in the US, indoor soccer has a dedicated fanbase and is played at both amateur and professional levels across the country. There are several indoor soccer leagues in the US, including the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) and the United Soccer League’s (USL) Championship Indoor League. Indoor soccer is also popular at the youth level, with many children and teenagers playing in indoor leagues and tournaments during the winter months when outdoor soccer is not possible in many parts of the country.
- Brazil: Futsal is hugely popular in Brazil, where it is played in schools, community centers, and sports clubs. The country has produced some of the best futsal players in the world, including Falcão and Neto.
- Spain: Spain is another country where futsal is widely played and enjoyed. The Spanish national team is one of the most successful in the world, having won two FIFA Futsal World Cups and seven UEFA Futsal Championships.
- Portugal: Futsal is a beloved pastime in Portugal, where it is played in both amateur and professional leagues. The country has produced some of the most skilled and creative futsal players, including Ricardinho and Cardinal.
- Italy: Italy has a strong futsal tradition and is home to some of the most competitive and exciting futsal leagues in Europe, such as Serie A and Serie B. The country has also produced some of the most talented futsal players in the world, including Gabriel Lima and Saad Assis.
- Argentina: While outdoor soccer is more popular in Argentina, futsal is still widely played and enjoyed in the country. The Argentine national futsal team is one of the strongest in South America, having won two Copa América de Futsal titles.
- Iran: Futsal is hugely popular in Iran, where it is played in schools, parks, and community centers across the country. The Iranian national futsal team is one of the most successful in Asia, having won five AFC Futsal Championships.
Is Indoor or Outdoor Soccer Better?
That is a really tough question to answer. Indoor and outdoor soccer have their differences, but both versions of the sport offer unique advantages and challenges. It is important to remember that they are both different versions of the same game. Whether you prefer the fast-paced, high-scoring game of indoor soccer or the traditional, endurance-building game of outdoor soccer, both versions of the sport offer the opportunity for teamwork, skill-building, and fun.
Frequently Asked Questions
How are indoor soccer rules different from outdoor?
Major differences in rules are the no offside rule in indoor soccer, no blue card, no throw-ins, unlimited substitutions, and a few others.
Are indoor and outdoor soccer shoes the same?
No. Indoor soccer shoes have flat gum rubber soles that have shallow patterns. They are lightweight and non-marking. These features help them to grip the hard and flat indoor surfaces better.
Outdoor soccer shoes have hard cleats or studs on the soles that allow a better grip on natural or artificial turf.
What is the difference between indoor and outdoor soccer ball?
Indoor soccer uses the same ball as outdoor soccer, which is a size 5 ball. Futsal, which is a slightly different version of indoor soccer uses a smaller (size 4), less bouncy ball.
Is indoor soccer harder than outdoor soccer?
Not at all. The basic skills required by both are the same. While indoor soccer may look like the fast and furious version of regular soccer, it is by no means harder. You will learn new skills and you will get the chance to refine your gameplay.