November 17, 2022
How to Play On Different Surfaces
Most players typically enjoy home games more than away games for many reasons. Usually, a home crowd is more beneficial for the cheering. Home games also allow you to play on a field that you are familiar with from your training sessions.
This is a huge advantage for the home team no matter what kind of field you play on. Every field is unique. The opponent must adapt to the new playing surface. But not every game will be a home game. When you are on the away team, you will need to adjust to the new field. To do this, you need an understanding of how different playing surfaces can impact the game.
American soccer fields are typically natural grass or synthetic turf. Each player has his or her preference on whether they like turf or grass better.
Both grass and turf have unique variables that can impact the game.
Turf fields are usually perfectly flat. Meaning there are fewer bumps or strange bounces as the ball travels between players. You can play on turf fields in all-weather conditions, even rain, so long as there is no lightning.
However, turf fields can be full of rubber pellets or sand that can get into your shoes and cause discomfort. When it is hot outside, the turf can heat up and you can feel it through your cleats. Sometimes turf fields are marked for other sports with multi-colored lines. This can make it complicated to remember which lines are significant for you. And if it is raining, the turf can be slick and makes the ball move at a rapid pace, making it difficult to maintain accurate passing.
Image Credit: Photo by Donald Giannatti on Unsplash
Grass fields have both their ups and downs as well. Some grass fields are well maintained and cut at a perfect length for soccer. But these “perfect” grass fields are rare in the United States youth soccer system.
Most youth soccer grass fields have bumps or holes all over the field, making it difficult to keep the ball on the ground. Grass fields could also have long or short grass, changing the way you need to pass the ball to teammates. Some fields are not level making it tricky to catch a ball passed into space that picks up speed as it rolls down a slope.
Weather plays a huge impact on grass fields if they do not drain well. Some fields will get muddy or form puddles. You might even play in places where it snows, and the grass field is almost frozen over.
The adjustments that players need to make completely depend on the playing surface and the weather. Playing on grass is great but what if the grass on the field is up to your ankles? Think about how this might affect your ability to pass the ball on the ground to teammates. Think about how much harder it is to run around in tall grass for up to 90 minutes.
When it rains or snows, grass will get slick, making it hard for players to stay on their feet or weigh their passes to their teammates correctly.
The same concepts apply to turf surfaces as well. If the turf is wet, the ball will skip and slide farther than usual. How else might this impact the game? If passing on the ground becomes too difficult because of the surface conditions, players should look to keep the ball in the air more when playing between each other.
When you are shooting on goal, the bounce or slickness of the ground makes it hard for goalkeepers to save balls placed into the lower corners.
Changing your footwear might also need to be another option for you to consider when playing on different surfaces or in different weather. Remember that warmups are the best time for you and your team to start adjusting the different playing surfaces you will come across. Talk with your teammates about what everyone should be doing to adjust to the field or weather before the whistle blows to begin the game.
The earlier you can adjust, the better performance you will have.
The secret to mastering any skill is practice! Are you looking to become a stronger player? Could you use direct feedback from a professional coach on how to improve your passing skills, communication, or vision on the field?
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