Expert section: Mate Kontra – I’ve played soccer at a very high level all my life. Throughout my time playing, I’ve been coached by ex-pro, D1, and Academy level coaches, currently playing at the MLS-Next level as a wingback in California. A pair of futsal shoes was one of the most significant components of my work outside of training. Here is why they were so important.
A highly underrated way to practice soccer is with the use of futsal shoes.
They allow players to take advantage of different playing surfaces and get a better understanding of how the ball reacts to different touches.
With more sophisticated skills, players can turn their decisions into action more efficiently to benefit their team more.
So, futsal shoes are one of the best tools to maximize soccer development because they provide a challenging platform for players to master controlling the ball with all parts of their feet, improve reaction times, and teach creativity by implementing a fast-paced environment on various playing surfaces.
Essentially, the ball travels faster on hard surfaces such as rubber or concrete which increases the speed of play.
A faster speed of play leaves less time to make decisions or put thought into action, which is why it enhances players’ skills so much.
Since matches are most commonly played on slower surfaces, like grass or turf, players with futsal training will be able to make seamless decisions in any situation.
So yes, futsal shoes are one of the most useful tools for soccer development.
Well, what if you don’t have a pair of futsal shoes?
Don’t worry, because we are already a step ahead!
In the following paragraphs, we provided a detailed guide about finding the best pair of futsal shoes that fulfill your needs.
We’ll discuss topics such as price, material, fitment, and durability to make sure that no questions go unanswered.
Related article: The Guide to Choosing the Right Soccer Cleat
How to find the best futsal shoes for your needs?
Four main elements of futsal shoes need to be evaluated before making a purchase.
We will be discussing each element in a logical order to make the process as easy as possible.
It’s best to follow each point as a checklist to ensure that all necessary qualities are provided by the shoes.
When making a purchase, the price of an item is the primary determining factor.
For futsal shoes, this concept is thrown out of the window.
Unlike cleats, futsal shoes usually have only one version of each model, providing only one price point for each shoe.
There are cheap and expensive models available, but the differences between the two are inconsistent.
Some have differences in the material, and some in the construction methods.
It varies model by model.
The significance of this is that most features can be found at any price point.
Of course, ideal features will be more common in the premium models, but most can be found in cheaper pairs as well.
So the best strategy for finding the best pair of futsal shoes is to follow personal preferences and more or less ignore the prices.
Because less expensive doesn’t always mean lower quality, and more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean higher quality.
The first quality that comes to mind when trying on shoes is fitment.
Futsal shoes are similar to cleats in the sense that they stretch to fit.
However, futsal shoes tend to stretch more than cleats due to the elastic soles made of rubber.
So from my experience, the overall fitment should be tight enough to prevent the foot from sliding around, but not cause any discomfort.
This will allow the shoes to perfectly mimic the shape of the foot and provide the best playing experience.
Aside from overall tightness, two more aspects of fitment should be evaluated.
The length and width of futsal shoes, as these can also be a determining factor for how well they fit.
A commonly used skill in futsal is the toe-poke, which can be used depending on the length of the shoes.
So the necessary length is purely based on the preference of players.
Having more room in front of the toes will allow players to toe-poke the ball without causing any injuries.
But, it will also impair the ability to feel the ball accurately.
The extra room will cushion the feeling of the ball, which often leads to a bad touch and even loss of possession.
On the contrary, less room for the toes will make it difficult to toe-poke the ball, causing pain or even injury.
But it will allow players to have a more accurate feeling of the ball, making it easier to control it.
Nevertheless, all players should avoid crunching their toes against the front of the shoes.
There is no advantage to having too little room for the toes, only disadvantages.
It will almost certainly lead to injury regardless of whether or not the toe-poke is used.
The width of futsal shoes is less important than the length because as we said previously, they stretch to fit.
If the soles are narrow, it should still be fine because the shoe will stretch to size over time.
Just make sure that wearing them doesn’t cause any pain or discomfort.
On the other hand, if the soles are too wide then a smaller size should be tried instead.
Loose fitment will stay loose regardless of how long the pair is worn, so it should be avoided.
Loose shoes can cause the foot to slide around too much, causing skin chafing, blisters, or even ankle injuries.
When discussing the material of shoes used for soccer, the priority is usually protection.
However, unlike cleats, futsal shoes have flat soles.
So when players step on each other’s feet, it hurts significantly less than cleats.
For this reason, the priority when evaluating the material of futsal shoes is their flexibility and the feeling they provide of the ball.
Since futsal involves more sophisticated skill moves such as ball rolls, futsal shoes must be flexible.
Flexible shoes allow players to manipulate the ball more easily, giving them the ability to perform more complex moves.
On top of that, players who wear more flexible shoes do not have to worry about blisters or skin chafing.
They will be flexible enough to avoid causing any discomfort even during the break-in phase, giving players the option to play with them right out of the box.
The best materials that provide flexibility are usually leather-like.
Real leather, calfskin, and soft fabrics are only a few examples of materials that are perfect for maximizing flexibility.
Additionally, these materials are available at most price points, so they are pretty easy to find.
How the ball feels
Whether or not the ball feels right in a pair of shoes mostly depends on the preference of the player.
However, I recommend searching for a pair that provides a “naked” feeling for the foot when touching the ball.
Futsal is very reliant on the technical ability of players so having an accurate feeling of the ball is crucial.
The way to find out how accurate the ball feels while wearing the shoes is simple.
First, perform a couple of moves on the ball without any shoes on, such as a pass or a skill move of your choice.
Then perform the same moves with the shoes on.
As long as the two feel similar, I’d say the pair checks out.
The durability of futsal shoes mainly depends on the way it was constructed, or put together.
Construction generally quality varies based on the price of the shoes.
More expensive models are more likely to have higher-quality construction than cheaper ones, and vice versa.
With that said, it’s not uncommon to find cheaper examples with the same construction.
The reason for this is that manufacturers tend to make only one version of each model of futsal shoes because they’re bought less often than cleats.
So outgoing models often become cheaper, even though they are of higher quality.
From my experience, outgoing models are just as great as new ones, so don’t be afraid to give them a try!
Here are the 3 signs that indicate great durability in a pair of futsal shoes.
Stitching Along the Soles
The most telltale sign that futsal shoes are going to be durable is stitching along the seam of the soles and the body of the shoes.
It may sound contradictory because glue has a stronger bond than stitching, but here is why stitching is a good sign.
Every modern futsal shoe will be glued one way or another, there are no two ways about it.
The problem is that uniform adhesive around the shoe will create weak points where the glue will break before it does anywhere else.
The solution is to use stitching for a stronger bond in the areas of the shoe that are stressed the most.
Well, won’t the stitching break and become useless?
No, the stitching will not break on futsal shoes because they are not exposed to rough conditions.
Unlike cleats, which are dragged across dirt and turf, futsal shoes are used on a flat surface that will not touch the stitching.
It may break over time as it becomes worn, but by the time it does, the rest of the shoe will also be too worn for use.
So when stitching is visible along certain parts of the sole seam, it is an indicator that the shoes will last a while.
As we mentioned previously, a common technique used in futsal is the toe-poke.
Using this technique often can wear down the front of the shoes pretty quickly, so manufacturers came up with a solution.
They started stitching a layer of padding to the front of the shoes to maintain their longevity even while using the toe-poke technique.
Additionally, even the players who don’t use the toe-poke can benefit from more padding.
Many players, myself included, have a habit of dragging their feet out of superstition, or just exhaustion.
This can cause a lot of wear on the front of the shoes, and even create holes.
Padding can prevent the shoe from being ruined at no extra cost.
So padding is a great indicator that the shoes are durable enough to last a long time.
The thickness of the material that futsal shoes are constructed of is another integral part of their durability.
From my experience, the best way to make sure that the material is thick enough is by comparing it to a leather model.
Leather is usually the thickest material that futsal shoes are made of, so it’s the best comparison when testing durability.
It’s possible to get a feeling for the thickness of materials by touching the inside and outside of the shoe at the same time.
As long as the thickness of the materials feels similar, the shoe in mind is likely durable to last a while.
A common concern is that the material can be too thick to be able to provide an accurate feeling of the ball.
While that may be true with cleats, none of the futsal shoes that I’ve ever worn have been too thick to affect performance.
Manufacturers likely know about this issue, which is why futsal shoes rarely have any padding on them.
So when looking for futsal shoes, there is no need to worry about picking an over-padded model, because they are very rare.
The price of futsal shoes matters less than one might think.
Futsal shoes are priced model by model, so the differences at various price points are inconsistent.
Most qualities can be found at any price point, whether that is on an outgoing model or a new one.
The next quality to check is the fitment.
Overall tightness should prevent the foot from sliding around in the shoe without causing any discomfort.
Length is mostly based on personal preferences regarding the toe-poke technique.
Width on the other hand should never be too wide to allow the foot from sliding around as it can cause blisters or even ankle injuries.
The material of futsal shoes matters greatly, as it is the determining factor for how the ball feels while playing.
Additionally, flexible materials are preferred, as it allows the shoe to follow the shape of the ball and perform more complex skill moves.
Last but not least, the durability of futsal shoes can also be a determining factor when looking for a pair.
Stitching around parts of the soles can be a great sign that the construction of the shoes is long-lasting and durable.
Additionally, a popular way to prevent the front of the shoes from wearing out is stitching extra padding to them.
This feature can be found on almost all shoes, regardless of the price, and does not affect game performance.
So which pair will be your next futsal shoes?
Attribution & Licensing
Featured Image: ‘Soccer Player Showing Off Leather Futsal Shoes’ by Justus Menke (Licensed via Unsplash)
#1: ‘Lineup of Quality Adidas Soccer Shoes’ by Fachry Zella Devandra (Licensed via Unsplash)
#2: ‘Hundred Dollar Bills in a Stack’ by Pepi Stojanovski (Licensed via Unsplash)
#3: ‘Player Test Fitting Soccer Shoes’ by Justin Hofer (Licensed via Unsplash)
#4: ‘Synthetic and Leather Material Cleats’ by Braden Hopkins (Licensed via Unsplash)
#5: ‘Leather Soccer Cleats Dragged on Rough Surface’ by Feo Con Ganas (Licensed via Unsplash)
#6: ‘Soccer Player Showing Off Cleats on Purple Turf’ by Frantzu Fleurine (Licensed via Unsplash)