When Association Football (or soccer) was first formalized in British colleges and schools during the mid-19th century, there were plenty of disputes and disagreements about the laws of the game that needed to be resolved. One of those issues was the size of a standard field of play.
It's something that most of us don't tend to think about too often, but the size and dimensions of a soccer field are crucial aspects of any game alongside other pitch-based issues like playing surface (eg. grass or artificial turf). Maintaining consistency and fairness across the board is absolutely vital. So what are the dimensions of a soccer field?
In this article, we'll explain the typical length, width, and overall size of a soccer field, giving you all the information you need about why soccer field dimensions are the way they are in professional soccer and beyond. We'll also provide a brief guide to finding a soccer field near you. Let's get into it.
Even though it's always in view whenever you're watching a game, the soccer field is arguably one of the most overlooked aspects of the sport. Dimensions, markings, surface; all these things are super important. But how big is a typical soccer field?
Both length and width must be taken into account. The International Football Association Board (IFAB), which is the governing body that writes the rules of soccer, states that "a field must be rectangular and marked with continuous lines. A full-size pitch may be anywhere from 50-100 yards in width and 100-130 yards in length."
But the international governing body FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) gets a little more specific. According to them, a regulation soccer field is between 110 and 120 yards long, and 70 to 80 yards wide.
The optimum soccer field size is 360 feet long (120 yards) by 225 feet wide (75 yards), although as these regulations highlight, pitches can vary in size all over the world. For example, high school soccer field dimensions are often a little bit smaller, with youth soccer sides or amateur teams operating at a lower physical level than pro players. Meanwhile, the pitches at most of the world's greatest stadiums will be right at the top end of that spectrum.
It's also worth noting that the guidelines for an international soccer field are a little bit more strict. In order to ensure that all international matches are played on similar-sized fields, the laws state that pitches must be 70-80 yards wide, as opposed to the more lenient 50-100 yards wide. But what about pitch length?
International soccer field regulations state that a soccer field must be a minimum of 110 yards long and a maximum of 120 yards long. The more lenient FIFA standard for club soccer allows pitch lengths of between 100-130 yards.
At lower levels of the game, you may see soccer fields that are closer to 50m in length, although it's generally considered that the closer you can get to the soccer field dimensions used at the top level of the game, the better.
The length of a soccer field can have an impact on the styles of play utilized during the game, too. For instance, a short pitch can allow teams to play more long-balls, going direct to their forward players and bypassing the midfield. A smaller soccer field may also encourage a heightened use of attacking set-pieces like throw-ins and corners. Meanwhile, an especially large pitch can promote possession-based football and calm, methodical passing.
As we've mentioned, soccer fields can vary in length, width, and overall size, despite the regulations that are in place to keep them within appropriate limits. In total, the average soccer field for adult play is typically around 81,000 square feet, which works out as 1.86 acres.
If that sounds like a lot, perhaps it will help you realize the levels of fitness and stamina that are required to play at a high standard. And it's not just the players — game officials like the Referee and the Assistant Referees also need to be able to charge around a regulation soccer field for long periods.
Before we move on to discussing how to find a soccer field in your local area, there are a few other points relating to soccer field dimensions that we should go into first.
The size of the pitch isn't the only thing that matters. The markings on a soccer pitch are also super important, whether that's the goal lines, the corner arc, markings inside the penalty box and the goal area. Without accurate and consistent pitch markings, the respective jobs of referees, assistant referees, players, and coaches would become impossible. So how exactly is a soccer field usually marked?
If you've ever watched a soccer game, you'll know that every field of play is marked out using white lines, which are typically marked manually using paint. All pitch markings are carefully measured: the outer lines, the halfway line, the penalty box markings, the center circle, and the corner markings.
The perimeter of a soccer field marks out the dimensions we discussed earlier on. The halfway line divides the field into two halves from touchline to touchline (the long side lines). In the exact middle of the pitch is the center mark (nine inches in diameter), which is surrounded by the center circle (10 yards in radius).
Let's move on to the penalty areas. The penalty area or 18 yard box, is a rectangular zone that extends 18 yards in front of the goal line, and 18 yards either side of the two goal posts. Twelve yards out from the center of the goal is the penalty spot (or penalty mark), on which players test their nerves whenever a penalty kick is awarded or a shootout occurs. During penalties, all players have to be 10 yards away from the ball (except the penalty taker), which brings us to our next key marking - "the D". This term refers to the arc along the top of the penalty area, which players must stand behind when a penalty is being taken.
Our final key soccer field marking is another super important one: the 6 yard box. Drawn six yards out from the goal line and six yards from the outside of each post, this is a crucial reference point for both defenders and attackers. It's also the point at which goalkeepers will place the ball when they take goal-kicks.
And one more thing, while we're still situated in the goal mouth — soccer goals are supposed to be eight yards wide, measured between the inside of both posts. The crossbar should also be eight yards above the ground, measured at the lower edge of the crossbar. The posts and bar should be no wider than five inches.
Okay, now that you're familiar with all the basic dimensions and markings that help make up a typical soccer field, it's time for a quick guide on how to find soccer fields in your local area. Don't worry, it's all super simple stuff. After all, there's no better way to brush up on your knowledge and practice your technical skills than getting down to a local pitch and playing a game yourself.
Google's powers are endless — it's not just a tool for searching your flu symptoms or translating a phrase into Spanish. When it comes to finding soccer fields near you, the first step to take is to open up Google and take advantage of the power of the search engine.
The next step is a simple search entry. Type in "soccer fields near me", hit the search icon, and wait for the results to come rolling in.
Once you've searched for soccer fields near you, all you have to do is use Google Maps to get you there. Select 'Maps' in the top bar of the screen (next to 'Images'), and a map will open up with all the soccer fields in your local area flagged up and easy to read. Take a look at each one and see which is best for your individual needs and requirements.
Finding a local soccer field shouldn't be too difficult, but that's only half the job. Next, you want to get out there and make the most of that green space, whether it's a youth soccer field or a more built-up local stadium. Whether you want to hone your skills and become a top player, or you're more interested in developing your coaching abilities, getting out to a soccer field nearby is the best way to do it.
There's always a lot going on in the world of soccer — sometimes it can seem overwhelming, and if you want to grow your knowledge, it can be hard to know where to start. Thankfully, there's a huge amount of online content dedicated to helping you become a master of all things to do with the beautiful game.
If it's tactics that interest you, our series on the best soccer formations or our guide to the midfield double pivot could be a great place to start. For something a little more motivational, check out our list of inspirational quotes from Mia Hamm, the legendary American soccer player.
We've got one more resource to point you in the direction of. Our interview with lawyer and sports management expert Jessie Engelhart introduces you to her Sports Career Guide and explains her exciting journey within the soccer industry. If you're interested in a career in soccer, you won't want to miss out on this one.
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The 6-yard box is 6 x 20 yards.