Why Are Soccer Pitches Different Sizes? It’s More Than You Think.

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Soccer pitches have more or less the same appearance. It’s always that rectangular shape with two goals on each side. However, did you notice that there are size differences? If you felt previously that a soccer pitch is a bit smaller than others, it’s not your imagination!

Setting aside street pitches, professional soccer pitches actually have a range of allowed sizes. What are those sizes, and why are soccer pitches different sizes?

Put your cleats on because there’s a lot more to these questions than you think!

What Are the Allowed Sizes for Soccer Pitches?

The allowed sizes for soccer pitches are:

  • Length: 90-120 meters (100-130 yards)
  • Width: 45-90 meters (50-100 yards)

These are the minimum and maximum dimensions, but the recommended size for a soccer pitch is 100 meters long and 68 meters wide (110 yards long and 75 yards wide). This is the size of most professional soccer pitches around the world.

For international matches, the FIFA rules state that the pitch must be between 100 and 110 meters long and between 64 and 75 meters wide.

For smaller pitches, such as those used for youth soccer or futsal, the dimensions can be smaller, but they must still be within the minimum and maximum dimensions allowed by the laws of the game.

An empty small soccer pitch

Here is a table of the allowed sizes for soccer pitches for different age groups, according to the Football Association (FA) in England:

Age groupLength (meters)Width (meters)
Under 7/83727
Under 9/105537
Under 11/127346
Under 13/148250
Under 15/169155
Under 17/1810064
Over 1810068

Why Do Soccer Pitches Have Different Sizes?

There are four primary reasons why soccer pitches have different sizes:

1. The Availability of Space

Soccer pitches come in different sizes primarily due to the availability of space in various locations. In densely populated urban areas, finding sufficient land for a full-sized pitch can be a significant challenge.

As a result, smaller pitches, like futsal or 5-a-side courts, are more common in such settings. These compact pitches make soccer accessible even in areas with limited space.

In contrast, rural or suburban areas with more expansive land resources can accommodate larger pitches, adhering to international standards. Availability of space, or the lack thereof, heavily influences the dimensions of the pitch and the type of soccer that can be played in a given location.

2. The Playing Style of the Home Team

The preferred playing style of the home team can impact the size of their soccer pitch. Teams that favor a high-pressing, intense style of play may opt for a smaller pitch.

A smaller field reduces the distances between players, making it easier to press opponents and force turnovers.

On the other hand, teams that emphasize possession, intricate passing, and a patient build-up may choose a larger pitch to create more space for their tactics.

The pitch size can be tailored to accommodate the team’s tactical approach, influencing the dynamics and strategies used during matches.

3. The Ability of the Players

The skill level and abilities of the players also play a role in determining the pitch size. In youth soccer, smaller pitches are often used to develop fundamental skills such as dribbling, close ball control, and quick decision-making.

These smaller dimensions are better suited for young players who are still learning the basics of the game. As players progress to higher levels and develop greater technical and tactical abilities, they may transition to larger pitches that challenge their skills more dynamically and strategically.

Pitch size can be adjusted to match the developmental stage of the players and promote their growth.

4. The Club’s Budget

The financial resources of a soccer club can influence the size and quality of its pitch. Wealthier clubs have the means to invest in top-notch facilities, including pitch construction and maintenance.

They can afford premium-quality grass, advanced irrigation systems, and comprehensive drainage solutions, resulting in a well-maintained pitch that meets international standards.

Smaller clubs with limited budgets may have to make do with smaller or less professionally maintained pitches. Budget constraints can impact the overall quality of play, the attractiveness of the club to talent, and the overall fan experience in the stadium.

Here Are Some Specific Examples of Why Soccer Pitches May Have Different Sizes

  • An old stadium may have a smaller pitch because it was built before the laws of the game required pitches to be a certain size.
  • A team that plays in a stadium with a running track may have a smaller pitch because the track takes up space around the outside of the field.
  • A team that plays in a cold climate may have a smaller pitch to make it easier to keep the field clear of snow and ice.
  • A team that plays in a crowded city may have a smaller pitch because there is less space available.

What Is the Official Size of Professional Soccer Pitches?

Professional Soccer Pitch During Game

The official size of professional soccer pitches is as follows:

  • Length: 100-110 yards (91.4-100.6 meters)
  • Width: 50-100 yards (45.7-91.4 meters)

The goal area, which is the area in front of each goal, is 18 yards (16.5 meters) wide and 6 yards (5.5 meters) deep. The penalty spot is 12 yards (11 meters) from the goal line.

Just like rules, The official size of a professional soccer pitch is the same for both men’s and women’s matches.

However, there are some exceptions to the above rules. For example, for international matches, the pitch must be between 100 and 110 yards long and between 50 and 100 yards wide. And for matches involving youth players, the pitch may be smaller.

Ultimately, the size of the pitch is up to the discretion of the organizer of the competition.

Does the Size of a Football Pitch Matter?

Yes, the size of a soccer pitch does matter, and it has several important implications for the game.

The pitch size is not arbitrary; it is regulated by official rules and standards set by governing bodies like FIFA. Here are some reasons why the size of a football pitch matters:

1. Game Dynamics

The dimensions of the pitch directly impact the dynamics of the game. A larger pitch provides more space for players to maneuver and encourages a style of play that emphasizes possession, passing, and tactical positioning.

In contrast, a smaller pitch limits space, promoting a more compact and physical style of play with quick transitions and pressing.

2. Fitness and Endurance

The size of the pitch affects player fitness and endurance. A larger pitch typically requires players to run a few more miles per game, which can lead to increased physical demands.

Teams may need to adopt different fitness and conditioning strategies based on whether they play on larger or smaller pitches.

3. Tactics and Strategy

Coaches often tailor their tactics and strategies to match the pitch size.

For example, on a smaller pitch, a team might employ a high-pressing strategy to disrupt the opponent’s play, whereas on a larger pitch, they might focus on ball retention and positional play.

4. Player Development

Youth players often start on smaller pitches to develop fundamental skills before transitioning to larger pitches as they advance in their development.

Smaller pitches can enhance ball control, dribbling, and close-quarters skills, while larger pitches challenge players to adapt their skills to a more expansive environment.

5. Competitions and Standards

Pitch size is standardized for professional competitions and international matches to ensure fairness and consistency.

Compliance with these standards is crucial for hosting official games and tournaments.

6. Entertainment and Fan Experience

Multi-ethnic fans standing and cheering in a soccer stadium

The size of the pitch can impact the entertainment value of the game. A larger pitch may lead to more open and attacking play, potentially resulting in more goals.

On the other hand, a smaller pitch can create a more intense and closely contested match. The fan experience can vary depending on the style of play associated with the pitch size.

Should I Stick to the Official Pitch Sizes?

While soccer pitches can be of virtually any size, professional soccer pitches have a range that is considered the standard.

However, as a soccer player, you’re allowed to enjoy your casual games on pitches of any size. Yet, if you’re planning to start playing for clubs and go pro, you have to get accustomed to the official size range.

This is to get your body adapted to the size difference, as bigger pitches will take a toll on your endurance. 

The Final Score

The allowed sizes for official soccer pitches are 90-120 meters long and 45-90 meters wide. The size difference is for many reasons, including the playing style of players, the strategy of the home team, the available space for constructing a pitch, and the budget available to do so.

Also, if the players are below 18 years old, the pitch sizes become even smaller to accommodate for the lower stamina and help the players complete the match without losing their breath. 

This article was written by

  • Mia Johnson, Fitness & Soccer Expert

    Hello! I'm Mia, a high school Physical Education teacher in Orlando, Florida by day and a soccer blog contributor by night. My journey with soccer began just like any other enthusiastic player - on a local field, chasing after a ball and dreaming big. Soccer became my way to teach, inspire, and connect with others. In the classroom (and on the field), I'm all about promoting fitness, teamwork, and the pure joy of sports. Writing for the blog lets me extend this passion to a wider audience....