Status of the blog

2017-08-08

Hello and welcome to my website!

Hope you all have had a nice summer and are prepared for the new season of futsal!

As you probably have noticed, it has been a while since I last wrote anything on this blog. This does not mean that I am dead (thanks anyway for asking), but as you might have suspected, I have too little time to maintain this website on a weekly basis.

At the moment, I am on a parental leave, which of course is a lot of fun but also takes time from coaching and writing about futsal. My wife has also got a new job, which means that my family are in the middle of a move to a new city within Sweden.

All of this together takes a lot of my time, which means that I for the moment will update this website less often than I am used to do. I have also taken a temporarily break from my Key Instructor role at Gothenburg Football Association and my expert & blogger-role at Futsalmagasinet.

This does not mean that I have ended those roles, it only means that I have taken a break until I have got more time on my hands. Hope you understand and respect that. If I get more time than I expect during this fall and winter, I will of course write here more often. Do not count on it for the moment, though.

Meanwhile, you can still get in touch with me via e-mail at hello@johansolinger.com

See you all soon!

A few days ago, I wrote a post at Futsalmagasinet, Sweden’s largest portal for futsal news, about the issues that arise when we educate coaches and players in futsal.

This text has been shared by many people and can be read here for those who are interested: http://www.futsalmagasinet.se/2017/06/14/futsalen-har-en-daddy-issue/

My headline in the text is that we often sell in how futsal could provide football players and coaches in their development. The problem with this kind of sales is that it will be a one-sided story and that futsal will be seen as a tool for creating better football players. That the sport would have its own value seems to be non-existent.

This is noticeable in much of the material coming from both FIFA and UEFA. It’s not uncommon with quotes like this from pro players: “thanks to futsal, I became the world player I’m today”. Of course fun for them, but would you imagine the reverse? “If I had not played football I would never have been a successful futsal player.” An stupid opinion for many, which further proves that the futsal for many people is just considered to be a tool for creating football players, not an own sport. This prevents the development of futsal on both long and short term.

Some time ago, I received additional water on my mill when I read UEFA Direct # 168, a publication that UEFA publishes. In this issue, the focus was on futsal, which you can read about here:

http://www.uefa.org/about-uefa/news/newsid=2476815.html

Of course fun that the futsal is noted, but as you may have understood, there is a con. Several times in the magazine, it is described how futsal is a tool for creating good football players and that it is mainly because of that reason why futsal exists.

Below are a few examples from page 22 of this issue that further strengthen my thesis.

It may seem small of me to remark on these words, but I have a strong belief that words affect how we think and look at things. It is of course very good that UEFA properly gives futsal a lot of space, but it must also be done right. As we use these word choices and formulas to describe futsal, it will be a one-sided story where futsal is subordinate to football. It’s problematic that we describe futsal as a tool to create footballers. Futsal is not a training method to create footballers, it is an own sport.

Misunderstand me correctly here.

I think it’s great that UEFA and FIFA give futsal more attention and of course football players can benefit from training futsal. But that does not mean it’s okay to have educations that puts the emphasis on creating good footballers instead of doing both. Or that we sell in futsal to coaches because it’s a good method of developing football players, instead of pointing out that it’s a sport that some actually prefer instead of football. Like me, for example.

A lot of thing is done well and going in the right direction, but many things can still be better.

No matter what many consider, futsal is a sport of its own, with its own rules and tactics. It is a sport that has many similarities to football, but also many differences that are important to pay attention to. Above all, it is important to make no valuation in any of those preferred from federal associations because UEFA and FIFA represent both football and futsal. Football is not futsal’s father, they are siblings who can coexist and learn from each other. That is my definite view.

Some children do not dream of becoming a new Ronaldo, some want to be the new Ricardinho.

Let them have a dream of being that without adding value to it.

100 % futsal

2017-06-01

The careful visitor may have discovered this already, but for some of you this will be a bit of news. In this year, I have taken a little calmer year, mostly because I have taken parental leave. Football / soccer has been less important, but futsal has gotten more space. You have probably also noticed this on my posts, which in the most recent past have basically exclusively been about futsal.

Now I have taken a new step in my career. I will invest fully in futsal. 100 %.

It has been a simple and difficult decision at the same time. Of course, I still love football / soccer, but my relationship with the sport has become more complicated. The coach assignments I have been offered in football / soccer have unfortunately not been what I wanted. At the same time, I have been interested more and more in futsal, which in many ways is a much more dynamic and exciting sport than football / soccer in many areas.

In a short period of time, I have built my name and received many interesting requests in the futsal world. Everything from being an expert commentator and tactic blogger to exciting coach assignments. I have been appreciated in the futsal world in a completely different way than from the competitive football / soccer universe. This is obviously great fun, but I have also learned a couple of things about my coach career.

I see this change a bit like many players are watching their careers. Some would like to be a forward, a world class striker who wins individual titles. But they soon realize that they are not competent enough. They may be the fifth choice on the coach’s list, not even on the bench. But then they saddle to be a left back and suddenly they can play continuously in the staring eleven every weekend. A wise career decision, of course.

I have thought football / soccer was fun, but despite my education and qualifications, I get a relatively uninteresting coach assignments so far. In futsal, however, organizations are screaming for competent leaders, and for that reason I have been able to advance there in a short space of time.

This is not just a cynical decision. In fact, I’ve had a lot of fun with futsal, got a spark of the sport that I missed during a period of football. / soccer. It is an extremely challenging sport for a coach, extremely flexible and places great demands. At the same time, the opportunities are great and that’s what attracts me – To be involved and build something from scratch.

In order to really succeed in a sport of my age, I think it’s important to determine the focus and therefore I have now decided to go all-in on futsal. Making such a commitment also shows that I am serious.

This does not mean farewell to football / soccer, I still love the sport, but the futsal will be what I spend all my time on from now on. In addition, to focus on two parallel tracks when I’m a parent is nothing to recommend, so a clearer focus area is needed. Which now is futsal. This because I want to learn more and develop into an equally good expert as a coach in my field.

My goal is not only to learn more and develop myself. Above all, I want as many as possible to get to know the wonderful sport futsal. It’s a great sport that many people would love, so I want to spread it as much as it goes. If I then take over a team and be successful – It’s a plus, but spreading the sport and increasing the level of education among coaches, players and audiences is the primary. I think I have a lot to contribute there with my interest in coaching.

So, 100% futsal, then.

As you know, I am currently an expert at the swedish site Futsalmagasinet and at the Swedish Futsal League’s (SFL) broadcasts, and I will also have a finger in the game for the Gothenburg Football Association’s talent training sessions in futsal. Here, on my website, I will also focus on futsal in general, but also about the coaching behind the sport.

Hopefully, I have something more interesting in futsal that I can reveal later on here on my website, but the one who is waiting for something good …

Here we go! 

img_1700

At the moment, I am without a coach job (if anyone has an interesting offer, just get in touch), but that does not mean in any way that I’ve been lazy. As a football / soccer coach, you rarely have time to improve yourself or have the space for your own field studies, so I try to use the time I have to educate myself in areas I find interesting.

One area that has interested me for a long time is futsal, a kind of indoor version of football / soccer (which not in any way be associated with that felt ball and tough tackles in slatted chairs). One of the biggest reasons why I have become curious about futsal is that it in many ways removes the things I dislike about football / soccer. More time with the ball per player, no long balls, effective playing time, timeouts allowed for coaches, fluid positions, focus on skill and understanding of the game … Yes, the list runs long and I have not even begun to write about how much fun the sport is to watch.

The other night IFK Uddevalla played against IFK Gothenburg in the Swedish top league, the SFL. They drew 0-0, which apparently was the first time in history that a futsal game ended 0-0 in Sweden. That alone says a lot about how many goals there is in futsal.

To satisfy my curiosity, I went on a course for futsal coaches on Saturday with the Swedish Football Association. Today’s supervisor was Lars Ternström, with dual championships as a coach on his resume as futsal coach of IFK Göteborg Futsal. We were a motley crew of about 10 students who wanted to take us of one of Sweden’s relatively new sports.

In South America, futsal began as a response to the lack of space that existed in the cities, where there simply was not room for large football / soccer pitches. Instead of abandoning playing football / soccer completely, futsal was created, a variant of indoor football / soccer, where the games are played five against five (including goalkeepers) on a surface the size of a handball court. Futsal has been around since the 30’s, but in Sweden, the sport is still relatively new, and our men’s national team (we have no national teams for women yet) have not yet managed to qualify for either the World Cup or European Championship. However, it is the fastest growing sport in the country right now, with about 140 000 licensed players. This compared to ice hockey that has about 64 000 players who are licensed.

It is, as I imagine it was for floorball’s relation to ice hockey, easy to bundle futsal and football / soccer together. It is easy to believe that it is “the same sport, but indoors instead of outdoors” but the differences between sports are striking. Almost as to the degree that I would say that futsal has more in common with sports like basketball and handball than football / soccer.

If we start with the similarities, the feet are main center of attention here. Just like in football / soccer, I pass and shoot with my feet, but that’s about where the similarity ends.

For example, you use much more sole in futsal than you do in football / soccer. There is even a direct necessity to control the ball with the sole in a sensible way. The ball has its own history. It is smaller than a standard football and has a moderate bounce. It feels heavier and is therefore more suited to a game via the ground, the long ball is virtually non-existent in futsal.

There is, because of the size of the court, of course, a difference between the number of practitioners at the same time (five players on each team including the goalkeeper), but there are free substitutions in futsal, unlike football / soccer. The coaches also have timeouts that they can use during a game. When the ball crosses the long side, it is not even throw in, but a play in with the feet.

With this in mind, what did I want to get out of the day that I could pass on to my football / soccer?

One idea I had was if it was possible to use futsal instead of practicing too much at the gym during the winter months. In Sweden, we have a long winter and pre-season training traditionally has contained very little training with the ball. Futsal could be a response to this while developing the individual technical skills and game understanding. Happily, futsal is an interesting complement to this type of gym training, but I much more than that with me from this education day.

One thing that was striking to me is how different the individual movement pattern is in futsal versus football / soccer. In football / soccer, it is normal to follow up a pass with “run with the ball” or go into a new space to be a playable option. In futsal, it is more normal to “back” from the original position and thus rotate with another player. The starting positions are not as important in futsal as there are in football / soccer, the players almost seamlessly switch roles with each other for what is best in the situation. A back can in the next stage become a forward and vice versa.

This makes the players more involved in the game than in football / soccer, but also places greater demands. You cannot sneak cheat in the defense in futsal, the team loses 20% of its total team effort when a player does not defend. Same thing in the attacking game, the team cannot afford to have bad passing players when it comes to attacking. All players are needed in the defense as well as in the attack.

In my head, I thought it was much more skills and less tactics in futsal compared to football / soccer, but oh how wrong I was. The coach’s role is incredibly important in futsal, not only because it is free substitutions and timeouts, but also because it is important to set up the right tactics. Each player is important and needs to have clearly defined roles. Above all, the strategy at set pieces is crucial. To just “shoot the ball” is a guarantee of a conceding a goal, so this needs to be chosen carefully by the coach.

Finally, I had not anticipated that it would be so tough physically to play futsal. Tackling is strictly prohibited, but it does not mean that players should be lazy. The fact that there are so few players on each team, each individual takes up much more space than they do on a football / soccer pitch. In futsal, small teams game is a constant, which is very demanding. Free substitutions are thus understandable. It’s about constantly being in motion to help your teammates. I would not call myself out of shape, but I got sore muscles after Saturday’s practice. That says a lot.

In sum, it was a rewarding education with a good instructor, but the question remains – What is the next step for futsal?

Obviously, there is a breeding ground of many players, but can the media attention increase? I doubt that futsal will outrank football / soccer or ice hockey, but to be the third largest sport in the future should not be impossible. It’s fun to watch, warmer than going to watch football / soccer outdoors, you get closer to the game … All the possibilities are there.

For me personally, now that I’ve got a official futsal coach eduaction, I would enjoy to one day coach a futsal team. I think there are many intriguing similarities (and differences) between football / soccer and futsal that would be interesting to explore in my coaching and leadership.

Futsal may only be in its early stages here in Sweden, therefore it will be exciting to see what the future