Futsal diamond: a mistake in defending

I popped into twitter today as I needed to get in touch with someone and I read through my mentions and came across this very interesting thread from a question posed by James Moore. Make sure you follow him, he’s always sharing good content with the futsal family and I want to give my take on the futsal diamond amongst other futsal concepts that I think are missing in English futsal.

Discussion- What area of knowledge are we missing to develop English futsal?
Either on or off the court.#futsal #futsalsl @TheDailyFutsal @TheFutsalIndy @TheFutsalShop @nest_12 @salasocceruk @Damon_Shaw @DougReedFutsal @juniorroberti @12DTO @jatowens @LuisMelville @JRyancoach— James Moore (@jmoore_96) October 14, 2018

One response sums it up for me from David Tapia-Owens and I wanted to expand on this to make my point. He mentions the futsal diamond alluring to coaches using it; just because.

IMO The issue is summed up by the amount of times coaches shout “get the rotations going”. Spinning round in circles but not progressing. Too many teams passing and moving pointlessly and robotically and then defending as a diamond— David Tapia Owens (@12DTO) October 15, 2018

Where do diamonds come from?

In England, from as early as I can remember, I have been told defending in a diamond is how to play futsal. From when I reached out to futsal veterans in Colne in 2004 to recent FA Futsal coaching courses. 

I believe the futsal “diamond” has come from watching futsal and seeing teams in this shape thus copying and pasting this to our teams. But for me it’s a backwards way to start and this is an issue with things like 4-0 and set pieces. We are asking our players to do things that top players and teams do from YEARS of training and competition in the space of 2 or 3 sessions.

Teach concepts

2 things (amongst others) we NEVER did in my last season in Spain with Industrias Santa Coloma under-14s: rotations and defending in a diamond (or any shape). We worked in concepts so the players had solutions to almost any situation that occurred on the court. Here is a link to all our matches that season: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtzxwIw9imY&list=PLuJOM0SMlGW50CCNsnCVETLwUNW-DT3TN

I never used the futsal diamond

We played a mixture of 4-0 and 3-1 because we worked on concepts for both and when it came to it, we asked players to do 1 or 2 simple things to set us up tactically. Same in defence; we had a concept of how we played, but tactical changes came easily as it wasn’t a wholesale change, just a tweak.

If we had trained to play in a diamond we wouldn’t easily be able to go and press. Numbers (1-2-1, 1-1-2 etc) and some words (man to man or diamond) can very easily confuse players as they don’t react to the game in progress, taking the words literally.

Futsal Diamonds are not your best friend

Teaching a diamond perilously misses out on all the key concepts of defending 1 to 1 (which is the FUNDAMENTAL of defence!!). The first thing we should work on in my opinion is 1v1 defending: which side to press, when to press when to stay still, when to try and rob the ball, body shape, use of arms/body and so on. This can quickly follow on to defending 2v2 situations when you start to introduce group tactics such as cover, changes, recovery and of course 3v3 and 4v4. Defending when outnumbered is another post for another day! 

Teaching a diamond perilously misses out on all the key concepts of defending 1 to 1

Damon Shaw

If done well at young ages, our players will be able to react to tactical instructions, but I would still avoid the use of the word diamond. Using the concepts mentioned you will see the diamond forming (4 players are always going to form some form of quadrilateral!), but naturally and your defence will be much more solid.

This applies to most things. Set plays for example, rather than giving the players a playbook of set moves, teach them to create space in pairs in the area to finish – use of blocks, feints etc – and I’m sure you’ll have more joy from set pieces as a result.

What do you think is missing from futsal coaching in England? How do you teach your players to defend?


  1. Martin

    Diamonds work in all ages of futsal however very rarely do you hear it mentioned, I have seen it used in Australia very successfully it doesn’t mean that it’s the only formation used, generally they rotate between 3-1 and a 2-2 formation as a result they play in diamonds without knowing it. Defending should be as required general rule no player should be in front of the ball if the team is defending this works well however in Australia they are years in advance compared to the uk with stand alone tournaments for all ages girls and boys and 20 mins halfs for juniors would like to see that implemented here and see what effect it has

  2. John Walker

    Brilliant, very well explained with a extra large dose of common sense

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