Early birds at the stadium or those watching on the television get to enjoy the players doing warm-up training as well as listening to the pre-game analysis and projections. However, one thing that may miss is the sprinkling of water on the pitch just before the game.
The same thing usually happens during the midway point of the game. Those that pay close attention are often left wondering the rationale behind the sprinkling of water on the field.
Playing a soccer game on a soggy field is problematic because there are usually puddles that will drain the motion out of the ball. Likewise, playing soccer on a pitch that is too dry is not fun either.
Dry grass makes it harder for the players and the ball to move fluidly. In addition to that, it can be dangerous with the potential of causing severe turf burn or tiny cuts to the player’s body when their bare skin comes in contact with the grass.
So, the idea behind spraying water on the pitch is beneficial to both the soccer player and the grass. Today, we are going to tell you all about the practice and the reasons behind it.
Why do they keep soccer fields wet?
The soccer fields are always covered with natural or artificial turf. Regardless of the nature of the turf, you are most likely to experience the jetting of fluid from tiny nozzles onto the field.
These sprinklers are usually systematically arranged, using the stripes on the field as reference points to make sure they are not clustered together as well as make sure that the water is evenly distributed all over the field.
The first thing you need to know is that there is no rule regulating the amount of water that can be applied on the field. The amount of water that should be sprinkled on the field is left to the judgment of the groundskeeper.
Sometimes, the managers of both teams may be consulted—especially wetting during halftime—to ask for their permission. The amount of water applied will depend on the current condition of the turf, the time of the day, the relative humidity, as well as the type of soil on which the field sits.
If the turf is already wet, maybe from rain, the field may not be watered again. Also, if the field sits on sandy soil, watering will make the soil firmer and more comfortable for the soccer players to step on.
Wet sandy soil is firmer than loose sandy soil. Without watering, the studs on the cleats of soccer players will dig into the soil and make running difficult. Below is a rundown of some of the reasons why they keep soccer fields wet.
Reduce friction and ensure consistency
When a field is covered with natural grass, some of the grasses may be drier than others depending on the position of the sun and whether the field is covered or not. Transpiration can happen at different rates on the plants thereby creating an uneven surface.
After playing for the first 45 minutes, there is the likelihood that all the kicking and stomping of the players will make some areas of the pitch drier than others.
By watering the plants, you will be creating a uniform playing environment. Also, when the leaf of the grass is moist, it lowers friction and allows the ball to glide effortlessly through the field.
On the other hand, when the turf is dry, there is increased friction that can hold the ball and make it harder for the soccer players to play.
Enhance player performance and goal celebration
Nobody goes to a soccer game with the anticipation that it will end in a goalless draw. Every true soccer fan is always anticipating that his or her team will score more goals.
One of the iconic goal celebrations that soccer players perform when they score a goal is the knee slide. This celebration popularized by the ex-Arsenal legend Thierry Henry is almost impossible to pull off when the field is dry.
One of two things will happen when you attempt to slide on a dry field. Either you tumble or the blades of the grass will leave tiny cuts on any exposed skin.
Besides the goal celebration, we often see defenders execute perfectly timed sliding tackles. In some situations, these slides have been enough to prevent the opponent from scoring a goal.
On a dry pitch, this would be really difficult to achieve. It is not a coincidence that stunt drivers wet the track before pulling off car spinning stunts. Wetting the field makes it slippery and more friendly to play on.
In summary, wetting the field makes the ball sleek, increases the traction of the players, and makes the game fun for the fans to watch.
Helps to keep the dust down
Imagine playing soccer on a pitch with dry sandy soil on a hot summer afternoon. Every stumping of the feet will cause dust to rise into the air.
This will not only make breathing difficult for the soccer players but will also make visibility poor. This will affect the viewing experience for those on the pitch and those watching on television.
Certainly, FIFA and all other regulatory bodies will not allow that to happen considering the huge revenue that soccer gets by selling TV rights.
Preserve natural grass
Wetting the stadium and keeping the grass hydrated is also a way of protecting the grasses. The drier the grass, the more easily the leaves will break away as soccer players stump on them.
Also, when soccer players try to kick the ball with their toes, they will likely uproot some of the grasses if they are dry. Imagine having to replant grasses after every game played in the stadium.
At the peak of the season, you may do that twice a week. This will increase the cost of maintaining stadiums which may cancel out whatever revenue the team gets.
Wetting the field helps the grass to stay green and beautiful and increases the appeal of the game, particularly for those watching the game through television.
All fields are not created equal. What works for one field may not work for another. The field’s groundskeeper is usually left to decide—in collaboration with the teams—if the field should be watered or not.
While wetting the field can enhance the playing and viewing experience, too much of it can be counterproductive. It can lead to the formation of puddles if the field lacks an efficient drainage system.
Puddles can hold balls or change the direction of balls which can have a serious impact on the game. When the field is too wet—particularly on artificial turfs—they become too slippery and players can fall and sustain serious injuries.
We have seen soccer players try to play crucial shots and miss their footing because of the slippery nature of the field. Therefore, the groundskeeper must always find the ideal wetness that will benefit both the players and the grass.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
The Pitch is Ours is a new beginning for me and a stepping stone to prepare before retiring from the professional soccer team. 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!