Survey and Lay Out Fields

Fields are pre-surveyed, and the four corners are positioned in advance.  The left side of this page describes that procedure.  Determining where to position the field and laying out the four outer corners is a three-person job.  

After the fields are pre-surveyed, a survey/lining team then lays out and paints all the lines on the field for the first time, based on the already established 4 corners.  The survey/lining team is best to consist of six- or seven-persons. 

Laying out the 4 Corners

Some large fields have an adjacent baseball diamond: keep the touch line at least three feet away from the gravel, for the assistant refs.

Try to avoid bad spots in the field (overwatered, bare, irrigation control boxes) - but it's often not possible. The repainters should mark dangerous objects in the soccer fields.

Use this field size spreadsheet to get the dimensions.  There are min and max ranges for the field width and lengths - adjust these at the field keeping in mind room for assistant referees to run and coaches, teams, and spectators to gather.

For parallel fields, try to keep fields at least 15' apart.
Make a guess where to put the field and lay it out to try if it fits:

  1. Put in 1 metal stake where you think a corner of the field will be
  2. Hook a measuring tape on it and measure to next expected corner along the touchline; put in metal stake.
  3. Hook another measuring tape in the first metal stake and lay it in the direction to the other corner, the goal line
  4. Use pythagorean theorem to find the diagonal, and stretch a 3rd tape to make a right triangle.  The spreadsheet does this calculation for you.
  5. Triangulate to fourth corner; you could confirm that the measuring was done correctly by checking the two diagonals.

Verify the field fits the area comfortably.  It's not unusual to have to move it around a little, or adjust the lengths or widths a bit.

If the pre-survey is more than 5 days before the surveying, paint 4" dots at the corners and don't leave any stakes. They may get stuck in the mowers.

Equipment for one team: 

  • 3 measuring tapes, 300' if available
  • metal stakes
  • hammer
  • yellow plastic stakes
  • 2 cans fields paint (about half a can for one field.)
  • (optional) wand for applying paint
  • fields diagrams
  • calculator with square root function for Pythagoras' theorem calculations or cell phone with access to the spreadsheet

Survey and Line the Field
  1. Pictures of a Survey Party
  2. First count the metal pins in the bucket so you'll know how many to leave with when you're done. Metal pins left on the field may cause havoc in the mowing machines, and be a severe safety hazard to the city workers, not to mention children.
  3. The Team leader and one or two helpers will lay out the field; on a large field (with goal and penalty areas), a second group could lay out the other side of the field if there is a second diagram with measurements. 
  4. The remaining volunteers could start by shaking the paint cans they're going to use (probably several boxes): shake each can vigorously for about a minute. You can hold one in each hand.
  5. The corners of the fields (or in parallel fields, the outer corners) have already been set out by the advance team. Find white corner dots and put a metal pin in next to it. 
  6. Attach a string and let a helper walk to the next corner. Put in a metal pin like in the first corner, tighten string, make sure it's straight, (lifting it up in the middle may help) then wind string a few times around the pin and continue to the next corner. (If a corner dot is hard to find you can measure with the tapes from the other dots.) 
  7. Use this spreadsheet to find the dimensions for all the marks. Alternatively, find the dimensions for U8 here, U10 & 12 here.  The field location map at the bottom of the page will tell you what the length of the goal and touch lines likely are; but make sure by measuring.  
  8. It's best to start with a touch line. Attach a measuring tape to a corner pin and send a helper to the next corner with it. Tighten and straighten the measuring tape and push pins in on the points marked on the field diagram.
  9. Walk down the touchline placing stakes at each of the measuring points (that is, next to the goal area lines, penalty area lines, and center line) on both touchlines.  Then stretch strings across the entire field parallel to the goal line.
  10. Repeat the above for the goal line, stretching the tape and marking the dimensions for the field marks for both penalty area edges, goal area edges, and midfield.  Stretch strings parallel to the touchlines.
  11. Using a can of paint, mark the corners of the penalty and goal areas, as hints for painters where to turn.  Drive the paint machine over the strings, painting the lines.
  12. Most Small Fields are laid out with parallel touch lines.
  13. On Large Fields, the volunteers can start to paint the touch lines after the midline points have been set, while the leader and her helpers lay out the inner dimensions of the field.
  14. When the lines are all painted, roll up the string. This can only be done when there's tension on the string, so only take out the metal pins after the string has been rolled up. It's best to have one person wind up the string, and someone walks with him or her to collect the pins, and another volunteer with a paint machine follows and fills in the lines around where the pins were.
  15. Don't forget to paint:
    1. mid circle (set out with wand and the string on small spools, redo with machine) 
    2. lift machine off its rear wheels to make circle or arcs
    3. corner arcs (at the four corners of each field) 3 feet radius
    4. penalty spot and penalty arc (only on (60x40) fields with goal and penalty areas)
    5. a two-feet line at the midpoint of the goal lines (to position the goals)
    6. a two-feet line at the midpoint of the mid line (ball position at kickoff)
  16. Do count the metal pins again before leaving the field.
  17. If you notice a mistake in the corners layout of more than a few percent, it should be corrected; if the mistake is less than a few percent it's probably OK.
  18. Recycle the empty paint cans.  Don't leave them in the trash at parks.