The size and dimensions of the field of play is stipulated by Law 1 of the rules of the game to be created in a certain way. However, there are many variations to the dimensions and playing surface that can have a huge effect on the outcome of the game. It is by observing these differences that a team might adjust it’s tactics to make the most advantage from these variables.
Lets take a famous example from the English FA Cup.
Coventry City were used to playing on the best and biggest football pitches of the then first division.
When they went to play Sutton Utd they had to play on a smaller pitch and one that had been battered so badly by the elements, that the goal areas in front of goal were mainly sand. Coventry, not used to playing on such a poor pitch lost to Sutton Utd 2-1.
Have a look at Ronnie Radford’s goal on the right, scored for non-league Hereford Utd against Newcastle.
If Newcastle could have played the highest level of passing football on the floor, then they probably would have won.
You only have to see how the players are having trouble standing up, to understand that this made the game a lot more even for the teams competing.
This goal pulled the game level and sent the match into extra time.
Hereford went on to win 2-1.
On the other side to this, at the top end of the game, the Arsenal grounds staff are instructed to water the pitch before a game to help Arsenals fast passing style of play.
In modern times football pitches are starting to be made from synthetic, plastic materials.
These now come with FIFA approvals, so that professional games can be played on them.
With the new surface comes new arguments as to whether it’s good for the game or not. It certainly allows a playable surface in countries where they probably wouldn’t otherwise be able to have them.
Besides the playing surface itself, you can consider also the dimensions of the pitch. By the rules of the game, they are variable and so pitches can have different widths and lengths, but can never be square.
The dimensions of the pitch should be considered when making your game plan and considering your tactics and formations.
If you have a very narrow pitch, wingers may not get the ball in wide spaces as often as you hoped and you might consider playing with more players in the centre of the park.
If a pitch is particularly long you need to consider what problems the extra depth to the game is going to create for yourselves and the opposition.