Futevolei is a mix of soccer and volleyball. In lieu of using your hands or arms, like the game of soccer, the players chest and head are turned into the primary surfaces of play. Futevolei is a 2 vs 2 game played on a regulation sized volleyball space. Most public courts in Rio de Janeiro are in the sand along the beach or bay. All of the courts in Rio come with a picturesque backdrops worthy of sitting back and relaxing to take in the view, as you are awed by the grace and skill of control over the ball the futevolei jugadores exhibit.
Futevolei is played to 18 points. Like Volleyball, either team can score, not just the serving team. The serve also switches in groups of 6; sides rotate after both teams have served once. Got it? It is like volleyball kind of, but not really. Futevolei is the cadillac of soccer related sports. You need to have impeccable control of the ball with your feet, thighs, shoulders, head and most importantly, your chest! Much in the same way a volleyball player “sets” the ball with their hands, Futevolei jogadores can do the same with millimeter precision using their chests, heads, thighs, shoulders and even a foot stretched behind their back.
Futevolei is not a game one would wake up and decide to go out and play, it is really difficult. Even if you have played soccer your whole life and can juggle a ball 100 times with ease, futevolei is still a game with game-specific techniques and skills that need honed over months or years. I do not mention this to deter you from playing, just do not be hard on yourself when you start training, it is amazing hard. The first things that is strange for 11 vs 11 soccer players is the way in which one uses their chest. Usually, a soccer player is taught to trap the ball with their chest. Coaches have probably taught you how to bring a ball under control by concaving your chest to cushion the ball and place it in front of your feet on the ground. Futevolei demands the complete opposite. You need to be able to bend at the knees, lean back and pop your chest as the ball hits your chest in a manner that accurately propels the ball to your teammate. It takes your brain a little while to rewire your instincts, and then a lot longer to perfect the timing, force and accuracy of the pass. Practice till your chest is red.
Using your head is a lot easier to adapt to, just head the ball upward instead of down. The foot pass is also a little different. The best control is with the inside of your foot, not your instep. Have you seen hacky-sackers? Well that is the technique, you lean back a little and in a smooth upward motion, stroke through the middle of the ball; tie-dye discouraged, infact usually players just wear a sunga! Heading is a lot easier to adapt to than the chest technique, at least it was for me. The thigh is pretty easy to adapt to also, some players throw their foot our instead of tucking it under them. You are basically smoothly swinging through the ball and trying to loft it to your teammate with accuracy to their chest or head. The rotation is identical to volleyball with 3 touches, alternating between players taken before the ball is returned; similar to bump-set-spike. However there is no stigma attached to returning the ball on the first or second touch if you find your opponent poorly positioned. players can not touch the ball more than once, without the ball touching another player. The net does not reset your touch, and opposite of volleyball or tennis, if the ball touches the net on the serve it is in play! Serves are done with as little spin as possible, hoping to have the wind mess with the balls path, spinning the ball on the serve actually makes it easier for your opponent to predict its path.
Now you have the basics. Next time you are in Copacabana, Ipanema, Botofogo or Flamengo, cruise down to the water on a beautiful and look for the old men wearing speedos (sungas). They will be dark as leather, usually ripped and playing with their friends for hours. take the time to watch and get a feel for the game and then go out and practice with your friends.