Soccer Field Lines Explained: The Most Comprehensive Guide

Updated on 
February 23, 2022

Guys, let me tell you.. there is so little information online about soccer field lines. I am honestly surprised.

I run a quick Google search by typing keywords such as "soccer field lines", "soccer pitch lines" or even " soccer field lines explained" and "field markings".. all I found were old articles containing very little updated information. So since I like writing articles about soccer, here we are.

In this comprehensive guide, you can find information such as:

  • What are the soccer lines.
  • How are soccer field lines labeled & called.
  • Updated information and dimensions.
  • How to draw soccer lines.
  • Most common questions answered.

Let's dive right into it, shall we?

What are soccer field lines? Explained!

Let's start with answering the main question: what are the soccer field lines?

Lines on the soccer field are markings that set boundaries of certain areas such as goals, half, sidelines, or end lines. If the ball passes over a line, the referee gives a call on what will happen next. Soccer lines are precisely made - mostly with the use of white chalk powder.

According to FIFA and FA (The Football Association), the surface of the soccer field must meet the requirements of the FIFA Quality Programme for Football Turf or the International Match Standard -including soccer field markings and lines. You can also refer to the official documents of the IFAB.

If you've been playing soccer for some time, you will know that these regulations are not so strict in amateur soccer leagues. There is always some buffer to work with - be it that lines are not mathematically precise or not visible enough.

Now that we have the definition, let's take a look at the complete list of the field lines.

The lines on soccer field - full labeled list

There are many markings on the pitch, so for the sake of clarity and clear understanding, I divided them into two groups: primary and secondary. Keep in mind that all of them are equally important.

Primary lines:

1. Sidelines

The longest lines on the soccer field are called sidelines (also known as touchlines). They are positioned on both sides, running parallel to each other and perpendicular to goals.

It's worth noting that sidelines are also known for being a part of an American football field marking and basketball court.

Coach with the rest of the team is usually being positioned exactly behind these sidelines.

Another good thing to know is that there are usually two more referees on each sideline - mostly checking for offside situations, or situations when the main coach is too far away to give the right call.

2. Endlines

End line is a boundary line stretching from corner to corner. They create a rectangle with a combination of sidelines.

There is nothing much else to say here. All you gotta know is that after the ball crosses endline, the next restart will be either goal kick or corner kick, depending on what team touched the ball last.

Another less popular name of endline is the byline.

3. Midfield line

A Midfield line is a line that divides the soccer field in the center on two identical halfs.

Before the kickoff, both teams must have all players positioned on their own half (in basketball there are players that are allowed to be on the enemy half).

Did you know.. that there are actually many interesting rules when it comes to the midfield line? One of them is that the offside situations are possible only on the enemy half. Yep! It blew my mind too!

4. Goal lines

Goal lines are a part of both endlines, positioned inside of the goalpost and it is used to determine if a goal is scored. When the ball crosses the goal line, it is a goal. The ball must cross the goal line entirely.

In the history of soccer, there were many situations when the goal was actually scored - but sometimes it was such a difficult situation to judge that human error allowed us to make the mistakes. That's why there is now a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology that ensures justice.

Secondary lines:

5. Goal box

A goal box (also called goal area) is a smaller rectangle in front of the goal post and inside of a penalty area. It is usually 6-yards in width and 20 yards in length.

This goal box has many uses such as:

  • Enemy free kick cannot be taken from this area (except indirect kick in case goalkeeper touches the ball with hands after the pass from teammate)
  • Goalkicks must be taken from the inside of the goal box

6. Penalty box

A penalty box (or penalty area) is a big rectangle in front of the goal. Within this area, a goalkeeper is allowed to touch the ball with their hands. Within this area, a penalty is awarded for the foul by defending team.

7. Penalty mark

A penalty mark is a small white circle marking a spot inside of the penalty box. It is positioned 12 yards from the center of the goal line. This is a spot where penalty kicks are taken.

8. Penalty arc

A penalty arc is basically an incomplete circle, which has a center a penalty mark. It is exactly 10 yards from the penalty mark and it is an indication for players that must remain outside of the circle until the ball is put into play by the penalty taker. In a time of penalty kick, no other players are allowed to be inside of the penalty area and this penalty arc.

9. Corner arc

A corner arc is a quarter circle (1/4) that has 1 yard radius. The Center of this incomplete circle is a corner flag. There are 4 corner arcs on the soccer field. A corner kick is allowed to be taken from inside of this corner arc.

10. Center circle

The Center circle is a circle with a radius of 10 yards. Its center is the center spot. Similarly, as with the penalty arc, the opposing team must remain outside of the circle until the ball is put into play by the other team.

11. Center spot

The Center spot is a small white marking in the center of the center circle, in the center of the soccer field. Kick offs are being taken from this spot.

How many lines are on a soccer field?

There are a total of 9 lines on the soccer field, including sideline, endline, goal line, midfield line, goal box, penalty box, penalty arc, corner arc, and center circle. There are also two additional markings such as center spot and penalty mark. This number doesn't take into account duplicate lines that are on both sides of the soccer field.

If you are a soccer fan or just a parent supporting his kid, you've got to be familiar with at least 4 of them - which I consider being primary ones: sidelines, endlines, goal lines, and midfield line.

What are the lines around a soccer field called?

The lines around the soccer field are called sidelines and endlines. While the sidelines are the longer ones and are running parallel to each other and perpendicular to goals, the endlines are stretching from corner to corner and are like boundary lines.

Both of these lines are creating a big rectangle. Restart happens when the ball crosses one of these lines.

Fun fact: If you would be running laps around the soccer field, you would have to make at least 5 laps in order to run 1 mile.

Why are there lines on a soccer field?

Lines and other markings on the soccer field are defining the areas of some of the zones where different rules are applied. They also mark when the ball is off the soccer field and when should a restart happen. A line such as the midfield line divides the pitch into two halves, which is important at a time of a kick-off since both teams must be in their own half.

Wrapping it up

Now you should know everything that you need about the lines on the soccer field.

It is important that you fully understand all the rules in order to fully enjoy this game.

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Tom Lindeman
Ball Athlete project
Hey! My name is Tom and I created this blog in order to help people wherever they are in their sport journey. Inspirational posts, guides, reviews and much more! Read about the project here.
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