There is no doubt that the striped green grass of a soccer field can be much more impressive than a single green grass color.
However, a question has haunted me for years in my early days as a soccer fan, and that was whether or not the striped grass had any purposes other than just looking cooler.
Today, I will bring the answer to you.
Why are most of the professional soccer fields striped?
Soccer fields are striped mainly for decoration purposes rather than for anything else. There are some added benefits to having a striped soccer field such as a slightly better experience for the audience and other minor benefits, but the main reason behind the stripes appears to be purely decoration.
It’s also worth noting that not all soccer fields are striped in the same patterns and shapes.
For example, some soccer fields use stripes but with an angle instead of having them as perpendicular to the sidelines of the field. Other fields use alternating circles of different colors instead of stripes.
And some professional fields do not have any stripes at all. They just use a single grass color for the whole field (except for the white markings of course. You can learn more about the goal area marking here, and about the penalty arc marking here)
But despite all this, there are some minor benefits that can be associated with the standard stripes that a soccer field has, and that’s what we’re discussing next.
The minor benefits of striped soccer fields
1- Stripes can be used by the audience as a point of reference.
The soccer field is extremely large, so using stripes to visually divide it can be a pleasant experience for the audience whether they are watching live from the stadium or from home.
For example, the stripes can help the viewers have better spatial awareness. They can help the viewers better predict how far the players are away from each other for example. And how far a certain player is from the opponent’s goal at any given moment.
The stripes can also help the viewers better realize how far the free kick position is from the opponent’s goal, they can help them predict offside offenses easier, and so on.
In simple words, stripes can improve the experience of the people watching the game from a “bird eye” view.
2- The stripes can help the players on the field better detect the offside area
There is no denial that the stripes can have some impact on the player’s spatial awareness, especially since the field is large and the opponent may be standing somewhere far from them.
However, I personally believe that the magnitude of the impact of the stripes doesn’t really make a big difference for 2 specific reasons:
- The players will be very focused on where the ball is and where the other players are and they won’t even have a lot of time to notice the stripes in the first place during intensive moments
- The coach will most probably not want their players to be dependent on the stripes because this can be used against them during their away matches.
If you don’t know what an away match is, it’s basically a match that is played in your opponent’s stadium. The opponent will have full control over how the stripes on the field will look during the game.
You can learn more about home matches, away matches, and 2 legged matches in general from this article.
Before we move on to the next thing, I would like to point out that even if the impact of the stripes on the players is minimal, that doesn’t mean that it’s completely useless.
After all, executing the offside trap for example (or avoiding it) requires every bit of spatial awareness that the players can have, and it doesn’t hurt at all to make use of the stripes when they are available and when possible.
With that said, I will conclude my list of what I believe are the minor benefits of having striped soccer fields.
Myths about the benefits of the soccer field stripes
There are some people that claim that the stripes also help the assistant referees when deciding whether a player is in an offside position or not.
However, I do not think that the stripes are of any benefit here. To detect any offside offensive, the assistant referee usually tries to run on the sideline alongside the last defender of the defensive team.
This means that any players from the offensive team that are beyond the current position of the assistant referee are in an offside position.
This technique is very useful and it’s used by the assistant referees to identify the offside area.
However, the technique requires the referee to keep track of the last defender of the defensive team, run alongside them, and keep track of where the ball is at any given moment. With that said, I doubt they have time to even notice where the stripes are on the field.
In addition to that, the introduction to the VAR (Video assistant referee) has made things easier for the referees on the field in general.
Before I end this article, I would like to answer a few quick questions:
Q: How are the stripes made?
A: Paint is NOT used to create the stripes that you see. The difference in the color is just a light reflection trick.
The machines that are used to create the stripes usually bend the grass in a certain way on one stripe, and then they bend it to the opposite side on the other stripe.
This gives each of the stripes a different color due to how the grass on the field is directed.
Q: What do the soccer rules say about the field stripes?
A: The only comment that the laws of the game have on the color of the soccer field is that it has to be “Green”.
So, it looks like the owners of the stadiums have full freedom of how they want the field’s stripes to look as long as the grass is green.
On a side note, you can learn more on the type of grass used on the soccer fields from this article.
The stripes on the soccer fields are mainly there for decoration. While they might have some very minor benefits, they aren’t necessary at all and their existence generally doesn’t affect the outcome of the games.