Why is a Football Field Called a Pitch? The Story Behind The Name

Evidence Based

Fact Checked

If you’ve ever wondered why a football field is called a “pitch,” you’re not alone. It’s a common question with a surprisingly interesting answer. Here’s the story of how the word came to be used in football.

Let’s kick off!

Why is a football pitch called a pitch?

A football field is called a “pitch” because football used to played on cricket pitches back in the day!

The surprising origin story of why football fields are called “Pitches”.

It all started with cricket. In the early days of the sport, cricket was played on a pitch that was specifically prepared for the game.

The pitch was usually made of compacted earth with short grass, and it was carefully maintained so that it would be level and free of divots and other irregularities.

At some point, someone started using the word “pitch” to refer to the playing surface itself, rather than just the act of preparing it.

This usage eventually made its way into football, which was originally played on pitches that were also used for cricket.

Over time, the word became so synonymous with football that it stuck even after the sport began to be played on surfaces that were specifically designed for it.

So there you have it: the next time someone asks you why a football field is called a pitch, you can tell them it’s because we owe our thanks to cricket!

cricket pitch

Watch and learn: The history of the football pitch

Here’s a great video that talks you through everything you need to know about why it’s called a football pitch.

What is the difference between a field and a pitch?

When it comes to playing sports, there are all sorts of different terms that get thrown around. Some people might say they’re going to play on a field, while others might say they’re going to play on a pitch. So what’s the difference?

Well, technically speaking, a field is any open area of land that is used for playing sports. This could be a grassy park, a school playground, or even a sandy beach.

A pitch, on the other hand, is a specific type of field that is used for playing certain sports such as baseball, cricket, or football.

In most cases, pitches are enclosed by some kind of boundary (e.g. a fence or sidelines), and they often have specific markings that indicate where players should stand or where the ball should go.

So as you can see, context is key when it comes to understanding the difference between a field and a pitch!

Why is a football field called a pitch infographic

How big is a football field?

Depending on the level of play, a football field can range in size from 50 yards wide by 100 yards long (for youth games) to up to 130 yards wide by 200 yards long (for professional matches).

However, the field must be rectangular in shape and all lines must be clearly visible.

The midfield line divides the field in half, and the two goal lines sit perpendicular to midfield at the end of each half.

The penalty area, which is 18 yards wide by 44 yards long, is located in front of each goal. The centre circle, with a radius of 10 yards, is placed at midfield.

Finally, there are two curved lines known as the touchlines that outline the sides of the field. All in all, a typical football pitch covers about one-third of an acre.

dimensions and markings of a football pitch

Is a football pitch bigger than an American football field?

Yes, a football pitch is usually bigger than an American football field.

Typically, the size of a football pitch is between 90 and 120 meters long and about 45 to 90 meters wide.

On the other hand, an American football field is typically only 48 meters long and 109 meters wide. So they’re slightly longer and thinner.

The final score.

The word “pitch” has been used in football for so long that we often don’t stop to think about where it came from.

But as it turns out, the answer is quite interesting.

The next time you’re at a football match, take a look around at the pitch and think about how this humble playing surface has come to be so important in the world’s game.

This article was written by

  • Anna Adams, Creative Director & Content Lead

    Hi there! I'm Anna Adams, your go-to source for all things women's football. I've been crazy about football for over 20 years, ever since I was kicking a ball around with my brothers as a kid. I've turned my passion into a career where I get to share all the cool stuff about football with you. As a content lead, I've had the awesome opportunity to work with various sports brands and publications. Whether it's the latest gear, pro tips, or just some cool football trivia, I'm all about making f...