How to Design a Soccer Field?

A recent exchange covered helping out a middle school that is designing a soccer field and what should be turned over to the customer after the project is completed. The series of questions didn't include irrigation operations.

"We are designing a middle school landscape with a turf grass soccer field, and think we should mark the field when turning over the project to the school district. What are the various material options for marking a soccer field? Do you have a comparison chart of the various approaches giving various attributes? Which options are most permanent? Should we have the contractor turn any materials over the athletic director upon completion of the project? Anything else you think I should know?"

Before we can answer most of your questions we'll pose a couple of my own to help clarify the project and the customer’s use of the facility.

How much space do you have outside of the touch lines? The reason I ask is there any requirement to easily relocate goals so as to not to wear out the field in the typical high wear areas? It helps to be able to move goals over 20-30 feet for each season or rotate the field. Will the program plan to use the field for small sized games and practices, in other words have fields marked within fields?

"It’s only one field and it’s a pretty tight site plan. So there won’t be any rotating possible. We will probably spec RTF fescue sod, which seems to hold up a bit better than Kentucky Bluegrass blends." I agree the fescue will be a better for turf wear and will tolerate drier weather conditions. It may not look as green but will perform better.

At the minimum I would have permanent line anchors for the 4 primary corners of the field. These anchors should be easily found from one season to the next. We offer several different solutions. We offer corrosion resistant metal anchors so they can be found with a magnet or you can use a whisker plug to help locate the intersections.

Many of our customers will use the marking whiskers to identify all the intersections beyond the four primary corners, e.g., midline, midpoint, four corners of the goalie and penalty boxes, and penalty kick spot. What is nice about the marking whiskers is you can use different colors for the different sized fields.

We will gladly provide you with our soccer field layout tool (Microsoft Excel template) that will calculate on the intersections no matter the dimensions. Please let us know if you would like access to this tool. The customer may like this to setup for all the small sized fields as well.

Other than FIFA and NCCA rules on field size there are no set standards on field size, just recommended ranges in sizes based on facility limitations and small sided matches. Your layout right now looks appropriate and should satisfy the ranges for size. If the state high school or district/regional youth soccer associations have recommendations I would review that information.

Our field layout tool allows you to do “what-if” drills on size, e.g., width and depth of goalie and penalty boxes. You can go out to the facility to do a quick visual layout and use some type of marker stake/cone or marking whiskers and then walk the playing surface to confirm it is reasonable.

For line striping the customer will need a string winder of string/braided twine and stakes. There are a lot of alternatives. We would recommend 1500’ of string on one string winder or two string winders with 600’ each.

The customer will need a means to paint the lines of the field. You have aerosol paints with an inexpensive line striper. This may work best if the customer is only worried about one field. If there multiple fields then a bulk latex painting option may be more appropriate using an airless line striper. We have several options here as well.
For paint usage I’m going to refer you to our website for some additional information.

I would make the contractor mark and stripe the field for the first time use and then turn over the equipment to the customer. This will allow the customer to actively watch, ask questions about what is happening, how the equipment works and what to look for if there are problems.

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