The Three Primary Differences Between Indoor and Outdoor Soccer

Other than a roof and walls, there are a couple key differences to consider about indoor and outdoor soccer. Indoor games generally have fewer players—with teams ranging from five to seven per side—and are generally played at a faster and more aggressive pace. If you desire to play soccer year round, but need a winter pitch with no snow on it, an indoor soccer league is likely right for you. It is important, however, to know that indoor and outdoor soccer have some key differences. Take note of these three major differences so that you can hit the ground running when the seasons change!


First, and most importantly, make sure to have the proper gear when you go indoors. The surface for indoor soccer is either synthetic turf or a hard-top, rather than artificial turf or grass. Regular soccer cleats would hurt your game indoors. In fact, most leagues won’t even allow cleats in any context. Either pick up a pair of indoor soccer shoes, or bring your favorite pair of turfs.


There is no offside rule in indoor soccer, so players can set up anywhere they want on the field. We don’t endorse cherry picking or lazy defensive tactics, but this is a key difference in the rules to remember. Long periods of holding the ball are rare during games played inside, so don’t sweat creating space as much. Focus more on your agility and beating opponents with technical ball control.

Penalty Kicks

Penalty shots are taken in a completely different way indoors. The rules state that penalties have to be taken as a shootout, meaning players can dribble and then face the goalkeeper. This is probably the most drastic difference between indoor and outdoor soccer, but it is a fun wrinkle that makes this version of the game intense.

Can playing indoor soccer help your game even though the rules are different?

Although there are many subtle—and a couple dramatic—differences between indoor and outdoor soccer, moving indoors when you have to will always be a benefit. Whether it’s because of conditions or a lack of competition, playing indoors will force you to hone in on your most technical skills. WIth the fast-paced nature of indoor soccer and the elements of the game that require dominant ball control, you will inevitably polish your game for the outdoor pitch while you are in the arena.

indoor soccer field

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