The soccer field (or pitch) is the surface on which the game is played. It carries great significance as it has become one of the iconic elements of soccer.
You can’t think of a soccer match without including a lush green field striped in different patterns. In fact, these patterns may be cyclic striped, linear striped, or even in a checkered form.
Unlike what you’d think, these peculiarities of the soccer pitch are not just for aesthetic purposes. Although it adds to the sport’s ambiance, the nature of the fields also carries a functional purpose that serves players, officials, and even the fans.
This article carefully points out the significance of the prevalent soccer field designs, why they are made and how they affect the game.
Let’s get started!!!
Why Do Soccer Fields Have Stripes?
When considering the laws guiding soccer, the only portion that talks about field requirements mentions that fields must be green. However, the soccer governing body FIFA requires soccer fields to be of a certain pattern or specific shape.
When you look at the different stadiums we have across the world, you will realize that many are designed in a linear stripe. It looks as though the grasses are of different lengths or different breeds.
This is due to the difference in the color you notice, as one shade of green looks darker than the other. The visible physical attribute of this field is a result of several elements, and they serve a few important purposes.
The important reasons for the stripes on a soccer pitch are highlighted below.
1. Beautification of the pitch
There are many reasons why the game of soccer is unique—and one of them is its beauty. Soccer fields are a crucial part of these beautifying elements.
One of the main reasons soccer fields are striped is to beautify the surfaces on which the game is played. The law of the game doesnt constrain the nature of the pitch, hence, the fluidity you observe when you examine different stadiums all over the world.
Imagine a plain green field or the type of faded green you see on poorly maintained pitches. You will agree that these fields will not look that good when viewed on a screen.
Also, promoters of the game know that fans want more than just watching the players kick the ball on a surface.
The aesthetic quality of the game is one of its endearing qualities—and fans appreciate these different designs. In addition, the more innovative the pattern, the more popular the playing surface becomes.
2. The reference point for fans
Viewing the game live within the confines of a stadium can be enthralling. The noise of the cheering crowd and the different fan outfits is a real spectacle for any observer.
However, all this is down to being able to follow the game’s actions as they occur in real-time. Knowing what goes on in the field of play ensures that you are carried along, and you don’t miss out on the game’s iconic moments.
The soccer field is vast, and due to the game’s speed, a lot of things happen at the same time. Hence it is easy to miss out on some of the details. This is where the stripes come in, making for better viewing of the game.
The stripe design of the soccer fields gives the audience a reference point when viewing. In addition, it aids the spatial awareness of the viewer in spotting the position of players, their distance from each other, and how close a player is to the 18-yard box.
When free kicks are taken, the stripes also help in being able to spot the distance of the ball to the opposition’s goal. Hence, these stripes aid viewers in the stands and those watching from home to make calculative judgments about the game.
3. Offside detection
The offside rule is one of the essential rules to note when on the defensive or the offensive phase of play. With the game’s speed, it becomes difficult for officials, fans, and even soccer players to keep track of the position of the last man and the player in the offside position.
The stripe pattern of the soccer pitches sometimes aids in spotting this out, especially in cases where a linear design is adopted. The belief is that soccer players can judge by using the straight line of the stripe to pick out the position of other players.
Similarly, fans watching the game can also mark out the position of the players so they can protest the referee’s decision should it go against their observation. Not that it matters entirely, but it pressures the officials to be more conscious about their subsequent decisions.
Spotting a player in the offside position is one of the most challenging jobs in the game, and sometimes the margin is by a few inches.
As a result, the linesmen on both flanks need help. Some use the stripe designs of the soccer field to do this. The linear pattern makes it easy to spot players beyond the last man before the ball is passed.
However, this doesn’t always happen. There are instances where the pitch’s design does not permit this. Instead, linesmen mark out the position of the last player and move with the player.
The application of this is somewhat contested when you consider how fast things happen during a soccer match. Considering the different soccer field designs, you can safely conclude that the method only works on pitches with linear (horizontal) designs.
Moreover, in the 2017-2018 season, the Premier league disallowed the use of diamond and other nonlinear stripes designs because it distracted the referees from making quick and better offside calls.
Over the years, several notable adjustments have been made to the game. Innovations like goal-line technology and the VAR are widely used today to keep up with the game’s flow and promote right decisions for the referee.
4. Aids the referee
Another reason why the soccer field is striped is to aid the referees. Before the advent of the vanishing spray used by referees to mark out free-kick positions, referees had difficulty keeping players in check during set-pieces.
Players would often move the ball forward beyond the spot where the free-kick was awarded. In the same vein, defenders forming a wall would also go beyond the positions initially pointed out by the referee.
The stripe design made the referee’s job a bit easier, as they could identify defaulting players more quickly. Also, when a wall tries to move beyond its original position, the referee would judge accurately by looking at their positions on the line.
5. To aid teams in setting up defensive formations
Most teams prefer to have their defensive lineup in a certain way. Depending on the adopted defensive formation, the players position themselves along the backline in different numbers. These players sometimes maintain a line as they move up and down the field.
The chosen pattern of arrangement and positioning makes it easier for the defenders to set the offside trap. The stripe design proves handy when implementing this.
Using the offside trap during set pieces and in the normal phase of play renders the opposition’s attack futile. Some teams spend long hours training, perfecting their movements, and ensuring their defensive line moves as a single unit.
Others are more fluid, with each player covering up when another player moves out of position. The stripes come in handy because it makes it easier to identify out of place defenders so that other players can fill in the spot.
6. Aids strikers to beat the offside trap
Strikers and Defenders are constantly looking for ways to outwit each other. The same way defenders are looking to leave strikers in the offside position, strikers are also looking to beat the offside trap and the stripes on the field come in handy here.
Strikers can identify their relative position compared to that of the defender, so they can quickly step back and stay onside as the ball is passed into space. This technique is implemented in the offensive phase of the game and during set-pieces.
You would agree that the love for the game of soccer results from many elements of the game, one of which is the soccer field. Great care and attention are given to the pitches, and in return, they add color and life to the game we love.
The best teams have to adapt to whatever their opponents throw at them. Using a simple element such as the stripes on a soccer pitch can be the edge needed to come out on top.
The stripe patterns in pitches worldwide are getting more innovative, so don’t be surprised when you see something completely different from the ones mentioned here. But, in the end, it’s all primarily done to add to the beauty of the game.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!