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Indoor vs Outdoor Soccer: What Are the Real Differences?

Playing soccer in Toronto during the winter is an interesting challenge. It was my first real introduction to indoor soccer. I’m not talking futsal or arena soccer here. It was a full-sized field that had been constructed inside a building.

That’s also when I learned the first lesson of playing indoor soccer: watch out for the turf seams. My indoor soccer cleats got stuck in a seam as I went for a ball. As I twisted out of the tackle, a wonderfully unappealing sound came from my quad muscle.

There are some other lessons to learn if you are transitioning from outdoor soccer to indoor soccer, especially if you plan to play on a smaller pitch or follow futsal rules. Here’s what you’ll want to know.

#1. There is no sliding with indoor soccer. To be fair, you probably wouldn’t want to slide anyway. The turf that I was playing on was like one of those artificial putting greens that you see at some golf courses. If you’re used to the outdoor game, going down for a tackle is still a difficult habit to get out of sometimes.

#2. There are no throw-ins with indoor soccer. On a full-sized soccer field, you’ll still have a throw-in. On the smaller indoor pitch, however, throw-ins go away. You just plunk the ball down as if you are taking a free kick and go from there.

#3. The walls are your friend when playing indoors. On smaller indoor courts, the walls are fair game when it comes to passing or shooting. Use them to your advantage if you happen to be playing. It’s tougher to judge the angle of a wall shot. Just watch out for the ceiling. The other team gets a free kick if you send the ball flying too high.

#4. Inside soccer rarely has an offside rule. This is the biggest adjustment to make for many players. You can be holding a defensive line, have the offensive player streak by you before the ball is passed, and think that you’ve set an effective trap. Wrong. In my case, with the full pitch, we still played with assistant referees, so the offside rule applied. In futsal or other indoor rules, don’t expect it.

#5. The shoes for indoor soccer are different. After wearing soccer cleats for most of my life, a pair of indoor soccer shoes felt like heaven. You don’t have the same “rocking” motion that cleats tend to have, especially when you’re playing on hard ground. There is added grip to the sole of the shoe so it feels like you’re wearing a cleat as you play. Just make sure your shoes fit right. An ill-fitting pair of indoor soccer shoes can cause blisters to form pretty rapidly.

The amount of fun that you get from indoor vs outdoor soccer is very much the same. The indoor game has a faster pace to it and you might find some floor burns instead of grass stains happening. Even the gear is similar, except for the shoes. Grab what you need and find a game near you.

Even in the middle of the winter.

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