A descriptive-comparative study of performance characteristics in futsal players of different levels

Despite the increasing popularity of futsal, there is little information on performance characteristics of players. We aimed to determine the validity and reliability of a futsal shooting test and to evaluate and compare performance characteristics of three futsal playing levels. Twenty-four males (n = 8 elite, n = 8 semi-elite, n = 8 social) completed two trials to examine the reliability of the Massey Futsal Shooting Test (MFST) and to compare various fitness characteristics between groups. MFST time taken (P = 0.010), shot speed (P < 0.001) and points scored per shot (P < 0.001) were better for elite relative to social players. Test-retest reliability was acceptable for all groups, but it was most repeatable in elite players. Loughborough Soccer Passing Test performance was better in elite relative to social players (P = 0.004). There were no differences in countermovement-jump height between groups. Elite players ran faster over 5 m than both semi-elite (P = 0.043) and social (P = 0.002) and faster than the social players through 10 m (P = 0.028) and 20 m (P = 0.026). Distance covered in the Futsal Intermittent Endurance Test was higher in elite relative to semi-elite (P = 0.005) and social (P < 0.001) groups. The MFST is a valid and reliable protocol to assess futsal shooting-skill performance; elite players have superior shooting and passing skill and have greater sprinting and intermittent-running ability.