What Is a Pitch In Soccer?

what is the pitch in soccer

What is a pitch in soccer? It’s a question that many fans ask, especially those new to the sport. The term “pitch” in soccer refers to the playing field where the game is played.

Unlike other sports, soccer has many variations in terminology depending on your location around the world. Understanding these terms enhances your appreciation of the game.

The History of the Term Soccer Pitch

The term “pitch” has historical roots dating back to English cricket. In cricket, the pitch is the area where the game is played. Soccer, which evolved in England, borrowed this term as many clubs initially used Cricket pitches to play games in the late 19th century.

cricket pitch

The sport eventually grew in popularity and teams to began creating places specifically to play and watch soccer or Football as it’s known in the UK but that’s a story for another article! .

This historical crossover is why we refer to a soccer field as a “pitch” rather than just a field. The English then exported the game to many other countries around the world and the term stuck.

Why It Is a Pitch and Not a Soccer ‘Field’

You might wonder why it is a pitch and not simply a soccer field.

Most people in the USA use the term ‘field’ instead of ‘pitch’, partly because traditionally Football is played on a field.

It’s just a cultural difference that has evolved over time and depending where you are in the world, most people will use the term pitch.

However, the term ‘soccer field’ is also understood widely and most people will understand what someone is referring to.

Dimensions of a Soccer Pitch

The dimensions of a soccer pitch are carefully regulated by the sport’s governing bodies. A standard soccer pitch is rectangular, with specific length and width measurements that can vary within set limits.

Standard Measurements

A soccer pitch’s length ranges from 100 to 130 yards (90 to 120 meters), and its width ranges from 50 to 100 yards (45 to 90 meters). For international matches, the dimensions are more specific: 110 to 120 yards (100 to 110 meters) in length and 70 to 80 yards (64 to 75 meters) in width.

Markings and Zones

A soccer pitch is marked with several key areas, including the center circle, penalty areas, and goal areas. Each marking has a precise purpose, contributing to the rules and flow of the game. Understanding these markings is essential for grasping the intricacies of soccer.

soccer pitch markings

Types of Soccer Pitch Surfaces

Soccer pitches can have various types of surfaces, each affecting the game’s play. The most common surfaces are natural grass and artificial turf.

Grass Pitches

Grass pitches are traditional and preferred for their natural feel and playing characteristics. However, they require extensive maintenance to remain in optimal condition. Weather conditions can significantly impact the quality of grass pitches.

Artificial Turf

Artificial turf, often referred to as 4G (fourth generation) pitches, is a popular alternative. These surfaces are made from synthetic fibers and offer consistent playing conditions regardless of weather. Artificial turf requires less maintenance but can affect the ball’s bounce and player’s footing differently compared to grass.

Hybrid Pitches

Some modern stadiums use hybrid pitches, combining natural grass with synthetic fibers. These pitches aim to provide the best of both worlds, offering the natural feel of grass with the durability of artificial turf.

State of The Art Pitch: Wembley Stadium

Wembley Stadium in London is an iconic example of a soccer pitch. The pitch at Wembley is 115 yards long and 75 yards wide, fitting within the standard dimensions for international matches.

The Wembley pitch has hosted numerous historic matches, including FA Cup Finals, Champions League Finals and the English Football League Play offs. It’s known globally for having an excellent playing surface made of traditional grass turf.

Wembley has also hosted over 25 NFL games including:

  • Miami Dolphins hosted New York Giants (2007)
  • St Louis Rams hosted New England Patriots (2012)
  • Jacksonville Jaguars hosted Denver Broncos (2022)

Comparison to American Football Fields

Whilst the pitch at Wembley has hosted both Soccer and Football changes need to be made in the markings to make this work.

Comparing a soccer pitch to an American football field reveals some interesting differences. While both are rectangular and similar in size, their markings and usage differ significantly.

Size and Shape

An American football field is 100 yards long, plus two end zones of 10 yards each and 53.3 yards wide, with distinct markings every 10 yards. In contrast, a soccer pitch’s size varies, and its markings are less frequent but cover specific areas like the penalty box and center circle.

Although soccer pitches are allowed to be up to 100 yards wide, most will fall between 70 to 80 yards wide.

Surface and Play

American Football fields often use artificial turf due to the sport’s physical demands and frequent use. Soccer pitches in most top professional leagues have to be grass.

Artificial pitches are more common in lower soccer leagues and often help smaller teams increase their revenue because the surface can be used far more often for training and youth teams.


So, what is a pitch in soccer? It’s a field steeped in history and tradition, integral to the sport’s culture.

From its origins in English cricket to the modern state of the art pitches seen today, a soccer pitch is where the magic happens.

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