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How To Dry A Soccer Field?

How To Dry A Soccer Field?

Apart from indoor soccer variants like futsal, the rest are played outdoors. Since most soccer leagues run almost throughout the year, they will experience a bit of the different weather conditions.

Soccer players know that the referee will not stop the game if it suddenly starts to rain—except there is a serious lightning threat. Therefore, they usually train in different weather conditions too.

However, a waterlogged field can make playing soccer difficult and affect the performance of the team. For example, during a Bundesliga game between Dortmund and Udinese Calcio in 2019, Dortmund was set to humiliate Udinese.

Hazard, Brandt, and Götze quickly recorded their names on the score sheet. However, when a heavy downpour began, Dortmund was unable to move the ball how they wanted. Udinese ended up netting in one to reduce the tally.

Dortmund vs. Udinese Calcio | 4-1 | Highlights - Rainy Football Battle

Not every soccer field has a good drainage system. So, whenever there is a heavy downpour, some fields will have to be dried quickly to improve their playability. This is where the job of a groundskeeper starts.

Perhaps, you recently got a job as a groundskeeper or you are in charge of your school’s field and want to dry a field fast. We will show you all the tricks below. Keep reading.

How To Dry a Soccer Field?

Throughout the history of soccer, people have tried different techniques to dry the field quickly before a game. Around the 1940s in Missouri, there are pictures that show people pouring gasoline on wet areas of the field and lighting them up.

The logic was that the burning of the gasoline will generate enough heat that will vaporize the water logs. While the result from this process is minimal, the environmental implication is huge for a number of reasons.

Firstly, burning gasoline on the field will either kill the natural carpet grass or melt the synthetic turf. Secondly, open burning is prohibited in most states, and doing so will lead to huge fines from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

There are safer ways of drying a field fast. Some of them are quite expensive while others are cheaper. The choice will depend on your budget and readily available resources. So, if you are wondering how to dry a soccer field fast, check out one of these tricks.

Use helicopters

Use helicopters to dry soccer field

This may sound extreme—and it is—but it actually works and sounds more reasonable than burning the outfield. Hikers know that one of the ways of drying hiking boots is by placing them in front of the fan.

Since it would be hard to find a giant fan that will dry the moisture from a stadium, you can rent helicopters and have them hover around the wet field for a few minutes and that should do the trick.

In 2015, the Los Angeles baseball team, Angels of Anaheim, pulled off this trick after experiencing a rare summer rainstorm. The storm caused the formation of puddles on the outfield.

Since their game was already postponed and they didn’t want another postponement, they invited police helicopters to literally blow-dry the field. It worked and the game was held the next day.

However, there are pros and cons to using this method. While it is effective, the success will depend on the relative humidity of the air around the field.

If the relative humidity of the air around the field is above 75%, that means the air is already nearing saturation and can accommodate only a little more moisture. At this level, the rate of evaporation will be slow.

Another important point to note with this method is that it is expensive to rent helicopters and the pilot as well as pay for the fuel that it will consume during the expenditure. Obviously, you cannot use this method if the weather is not favorable for the helicopter to fly.

Perhaps, these many obstacles standing in front of this technique are the reason why you don’t see it in use very often.

Install a primary and secondary drainage system

Installing a drainage system is a preventive method that can also help to dry a soccer field quickly after rain. These drainage systems consist of perforated pipes running under the surface of the fields.

Water from the surface of the field drains into the pipes and is carried away from the field to a storage tank or a bigger drainage system. A good drainage system usually consists of multiple pipes running across the width of the pitch.

There are two main ways of laying the pipers namely flag and herringbone. Flag consists of pipes running across the pitch and feeding into the main drainage pipe that runs down the pitch and takes the water away.

Flag system

In herringbone, the main piper taking the water away from the stadium is laid in the center of the pitch while the smaller pipes branch out of it diagonally like you will see on a branch with leaves. This is called the primary drainage system.

herringbone system

In most cases, the primary drains are not enough to drain the pitches quickly and efficiently. That is why it is important to install secondary drains too.

The secondary drains are basically small trenches or bands dug perpendicular to the primary drain. These bands are filled with sand or tiny gravel to enhance the flow of surface water into the primary drainage.

While many stadiums have a primary drain, not all of them make use of the secondary drain. The introduction of a secondary drain can make a soccer field dry faster.

Football Pitch Drainage (and the Engineering Behind it!)

Use permavoid

Like primary drainage, permavoid can only be built into the field during the construction process or during the off-season to cause minimal disruption to the game calendar.

Permavoid is a relatively new technology that was used in the Walthamstow Stadium Development in London in 2017. One of the challenging phases of the redevelopment was providing a stormwater management system.

This problem was solved using permavoid which are basically plastic crates that are placed under the stadium and the turf is carefully laid on top of the crates. Permavoid has a high vertical and lateral compression strength and can last over a century.

The space between the permavoid crates is a lot higher than that of sand and gravel which means rainwater can move faster through its hollow channels. When this happens, the field will dry faster. Permavoid can reduce water runoff by 80%.

Walthamstow Stadium Development - Permavoid Geocellular System | Polypipe Civils

Use calcined clay to dry puddles

In a soccer field that makes use of natural grass, heavy rain can easily lead to the formation of puddles. Sadly, puddles are harder to dry and make it harder for soccer balls to move.

Puddles don’t allow balls to bounce and will soak up all the force from a kicked ball causing it to come to a halt. Apart from that, puddles can be a serious health hazard and players can have fractures or sprained ankles by wrongly stepping into them.

One method that is commonly used to dry puddles quickly is by pouring a predetermined quantity of calcined clay in them. Make sure you choose the calcined clay with the gradation that matches that of the soccer field.

Use a rake to level out the calcined clay in the puddle. This will also expose more of its surface area to absorb more moisture.

Calcined clay works by absorbing the water from the puddles and will not cake in the process. Hence, you can take them out as soon as they have sucked out all the water from the puddle.

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Last update on 2023-11-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

How to Use Drying Agent on Wet Fields

Use hand pumps and buckets

Up to 1 cm of water on the field will usually not significantly affect the playing experience. The biggest challenge will usually arise when there are puddles.

Puddles can trap balls and prevent them from moving. Hand pumps and buckets can come in handy in taking out the water from these puddles.

If using a bucket, scoop as much of the water as you can into the bucket and discard the water into a drain far from the field. Likewise, you can insert the hose of a hand pump into the puddle and pump the water into the bucket.

Removing as much water as you can from the field will accelerate the drying process. Bucket and hand pump is an old method that still works. The biggest drawback to this method is that it is time-consuming and energy-draining.

Rubbermaid Commercial Products Brute Heavy-Duty Round Bucket, 10-Quart, Gray, Corrosive-Resistant Pail with Handle for Cleaning/Material Transport, 2.5 Gallon
Ontel Turbo Pump Automatic Liquid Transfer Pump (18005)
Rubbermaid Commercial Products Brute Heavy-Duty Round Bucket, 10-Quart, Gray, Corrosive-Resistant Pail with Handle for Cleaning/Material Transport, 2.5 Gallon
Ontel Turbo Pump Automatic Liquid Transfer Pump (18005)
Rubbermaid Commercial Products Brute Heavy-Duty Round Bucket, 10-Quart, Gray, Corrosive-Resistant Pail with Handle for Cleaning/Material Transport, 2.5 Gallon
Rubbermaid Commercial Products Brute Heavy-Duty Round Bucket, 10-Quart, Gray, Corrosive-Resistant Pail with Handle for Cleaning/Material Transport, 2.5 Gallon
Ontel Turbo Pump Automatic Liquid Transfer Pump (18005)
Ontel Turbo Pump Automatic Liquid Transfer Pump (18005)

Last update on 2023-11-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Soccer with the puddle in front of the goal

How long does a soccer field take to dry?

The time that it takes a field to dry will depend on a number of factors including the temperature, relative humidity, and the nature of the surface. Surfaces composed of coarse sand will usually drain faster than those that consist of humus or clay.

When the field lacks primary and secondary drainage systems, there is a high chance that the soil will be saturated after multiple rainfalls and this will make water stay on the surface for longer periods.

Without any form of intervention like a drainage system, the field can take anywhere from 2 days to a week to dry after a rainfall depending on the saturation level of the soil. When the first rain of the year falls on the field it will usually dry out in a few hours.

The drying pace will start reducing with more rain as the soil beneath the turf gets saturated. So, it is almost impossible to tell how long it will take a soccer field to dry because it will depend on the aforementioned parameters.


The soccer field full of water 2

It is always better to prevent the formation of puddles which is the biggest problem caused by rain on a soccer field. Proper grading will help to eliminate low spots which create the water pools.

Some of the drying techniques discussed above will not make the field immediately playable. You may still need to leave them for a few hours for the water to dry properly to avoid causing harm to the playing surface.

The use of drying agents like Turface, peat moss, and wood chips are often discouraged on surfaces fields with synthetic turfs because of secondary problems that may arise from their use

For example, it would be difficult to remove wood chips or Turface from the surface after they have completed their job. Consequently, they may leave scars on players that unknowingly slide on the surface.

So, even when you are desperate to dry a soccer field, you need to pause and think of the effect your method will have on the players. The health and safety of soccer players must always come first.