Soccer (or football, depending upon whom you’re asking) is one of the most popular sports internationally and has recently come into its own as an American past time. Soccer provides a unique experience that turns the usual pacing of American sports on its head.
Instead of focusing on quick bursts of energy with lots of downtimes, like in American football or baseball, soccer forces players to run, kick, pass, and score with nearly no stopping throughout a match. Because of this, landing on the right sized field for soccer—especially for soccer played by children—is important.
Too small a field and players will easily score, and score, and score. This also reduces the ability of the players to develop their skills in the long-term. Too large a field and gameplay will be significantly reduced towards the end of the round due to exhaustion of the players.
That’s why there are soccer field dimensions for every age group. No matter if you’re playing in an adult league with old friends or helping your little one practice their athletics, paying attention to the right dimensions will best enable players to grow and develop as athletes, but perhaps more importantly, to have fun.
Here’s everything you need to know about soccer field dimensions for every age group.
Before we get into the different dimensions, it’s important to know what exactly a standard soccer field looks like. And unfortunately, there’s not one clean and simple answer to such a question.
Soccer fields, depending upon where you’re located, are either measured in yards or meters. There are standard lengths and widths widely accepted by region, but even in official rulebooks, there is no specific size metric you need to hit. Only a range of acceptable dimensions.
When it comes to width and length, FIFA has a few metrics to keep in mind. FIFA, or the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, is the French-based international hub for playing soccer. They state that a soccer field’s measurements must be the following:
These are just the basics of the many rules and regulations that can be found in the official FIFA handbook. When it comes to American soccer, the rules are largely the same—with fields averaging a little more length and width overall.
However, when comparing the soccer field dimensions of junior leagues and other underaged groups, it’s important to keep in mind what an official field looks like and how you may be able to scale down the field to match the age and maturity of your players.
Soccer specifically run in the United States uses an age grouping system that tells those running the matches what size field they will need for play. Of course, for adults, playing on a full-size regulation or FIFA field is going to be necessary.
For the younger ones, however, playing them in the correct age group is important. These age groups are considered “U” groups, and they are signified by the age of players the field is believed be best for.
For example, a U6 team consists of soccer players under the age of six. A U18 team consists of soccer players under the age of 18, and the same can be said for all other age groups. Of course, while a U18 group could theoretically allow those far under 18 to play, it is best to play in a group that’s as close to the cutoff age as possible for fair play.
Age groups are typically decided by a cutoff date, which in America, tends to be August 1st. However, recent changes to regulations mean that cutoff dates will shift towards birth years instead.
We highly recommend becoming familiar with your organizations cutoff dates to make sure you know exactly what age group your little ones will fall into.
U6 & U8 Fields
The smallest of the soccer fields will be fields designed for the under 6 age group.
U6 fields usually operate with the following dimensions, as per official sources:
It’s important to note that U6 fields often do not come with penalty boxes. While this may seem like a fundamental problem for those who’ve been playing soccer for quite a long time, the reason for this is quite simple.
U6 soccer teams are often the youngest soccer teams that organizations will take on. Any younger, and the ability of the players to understand and focus on the rules of the game would come into question. U6 fields are designed with the intent of introducing players to the game as opposed to inundating them with many different types of rules.
U8 fields, on the other hand, are quite similar to U6 fields bur come with larger boundaries and a penalty box. The dimensions are as follows:
The larger length and width will give players the opportunity to stretch their legs a bit after playing within the somewhat confined space of the U6 field. The inclusion of the penalty box also allows instructors to teach growing soccer players more advanced rules and allow them to improve their skills naturally.
U10 & U12 Fields
The U10 and U12 field dimensions are some of the last to have adjusted lengths and widths for children. After this point, it is widely expected that players move into the full-sized adult fields widely available for play across the nation.
However, U10 and U12 both tend to vary more in dimensions based on who is hosting the game and what league is responsible for the creation of the field and rules of play. Generally speaking, you can expect the following measurements for a U10 or U12 field:
At this level, the goal box and goal area become the same or similar to those featured in FIFA rules. U10 and U12 fields are also either the same size or very similar in size, which is why we’ve only featured one grouping of dimensions.
Sizing becomes much more complex after U12, as field makers will need to account for the onset of puberty and an exponential increase of a player’s ability to cross the field.
U14 Fields and Beyond
The final field dimensions to discuss include fields designed for U14 and above.
U14 soccer fields range far more widely than most other field dimensions. Although, generally speaking, you will see fields with a width of 60 yards and a length of 100 yards.
U14 fields are the final step in altered fields due to the age of the players. For all age groups above this metric, it is commonly assumed that a full-sized field will be used for play. However, as we’ve previously stated, there is no such thing as one official full-sized field size.
Likewise, for recreational adult players, pulling out the FIFA handbook to craft your field may not be necessary. Full-sized fields are more so for experienced adult players than anyone else, so limiting the size of your field may make for a more interesting and exciting experience. It will all come down to your personal preference and goals for soccer.
A U14 player hoping to play professionally, for instance, may want to begin play on full-sized fields only. While an adult player in a local recreational team may be best suited for a field that’s 70% the size of a full field or smaller.
As you can see, soccer fields do not come in one shape or size. Even at the highest levels of play, variations on the dimensions are to be expected and even outright embraced. Soccer has always been a sport of endurance and technical skill. The field is minimalistic and designed to stay out of the way of the players for a very good reason.
We hope that our guide here has given you a few ideas as to how to craft a soccer field or find a field that matches the size and experience level of your players. Remember that incrementally increasing the size of the field will help enable you or your soccer player to develop their skills and be ready to compete in one of the most popular sports in the world.