The Anatomy of a Football Pitch

Resource added: 15 November 2022

Download this free classroom poster to help your students remember the important elements of a football pitch!

Are your students delving deeper into the world of association football? They’re probably well acquainted with football pitches, but do they understand their anatomy?

Ahead of the FIFA World Cup, we’ve designed this free downloadable poster showing them exactly that.

Download the poster!

Association football is played on a large rectangular playing area with a grass or artificial turf surface – this is the pitch.

The dimensions and markings of the pitch are defined by Law 1 of the Laws of the Game, “The Field of Play”.

The pitch has no definitive size but will always measure somewhere between 90m and 120m in length and 45m and 90m in width.

Although the pitch itself has no definite size, the white markings found on it are actually very precise. They themselves also constitute part of the field of play, so the ball must wholly cross the goal line for a goal to be scored, or wholly cross the touchline to be out of play, for example.

Centre spot and centre circle

The centre spot marks the very centre of the pitch. This is where the kick-off takes place.

The centre spot itself is surrounded by the centre circle, at a distance of 10 yards (9.15m) from the centre spot, to ensure that opposition players remain this distance from the kick-off.

The centre circle is also where all players other than the goalkeepers and the current kicker must remain during a penalty shootout.

Goal line

The goal line is located between two goal posts. The inner edges of these posts must be 24 ft (7.32m) apart. The crossbar sits above the goal line and its lower edge must be 8ft (2.44m) above the pitch.

Goal area (also known as the 6-yard box)

The markings for the goal area are at a distance of 6 yards (5.5m) from each goal post and the goal line, which is why it’s also known as the 6-yard box.

Goal kicks and any free kick by the defending team may be taken in the goal area.

Indirect free kicks awarded to the attacking team within the goal area are required to be taken from the point on the line that this parallel to the goal line nearest to where the infringement occurred and must not be taken any closer to the goal line than this.

Also, any drop-balls that would otherwise occur closer to the goal line must be taken on this line.

Penalty area (also known as the 18-yard box)

The markings for the penalty area are at a distance of 18 yards (16.5m) from each goal post and the goal line, which explains why it’s also known as the 18-yard box.

The goalkeeper may only handle the ball within their own penalty area.

If a defending player commits a foul within this box that would normally be punished by a direct free kick, the referee will punish the foul by awarding the attacking team a penalty.

Penalty spot

The penalty spot is located within the penalty area. It is directly in the centre of the goalposts and 12 yards (11m) in front of the goal line. Penalty kicks must be taken from this spot.

Penalty arc

This arc is 10 yards (9.15m) from the penalty spot, on the outside of the penalty area. This marks an exclusion zone ensuring that all players other than the penalty taker and the goalkeeper stay 10 yards away while the penalty kick is being taken.

The half-way line

This line divides the pitch in two. The half being defended by a team is referred to as their half.

At kick-off, players must be located within their own half. Players also cannot be penalised for being offside if they are within their own half.

The teams swap halves at half time.

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