Football can be played almost anywhere. In the garden, down the local park, in a sports centre, at a local club, or even on the beach. It’s such an accessible sport that anyone can get in to, whatever your age. You can also decide if you’d prefer to play indoors or outdoors. And on which type of surface.
Small sided games such as 5-a-side are often played on indoor pitches. They traditionally have hard wooden floors, and are usually in leisure centres or purpose built facilities. Of course there are the standard grass pitches for a more traditional game, although the ground can often get very muddy in wet conditions. And then there are artificial pitches, like astroturf and the increasingly popular 3G and 4G artificial pitches. These tend to be purpose built facilities and are popping up all over the country, so you’re likely to find one not too far away.
Here is some more information about all the different types of pitches out there, and where and why each is used:
- Hybrid Turf: Today’s top-level football pitches look pristine and play even better. Back in the 1960s and 70s, the winter rain turned English football pitches into mud baths. The country’s best players would slide around, covered in mud and water. So why are things so different today? The secret is hybrid grass: part real, part synthetic. This surface is now used in all the big stadiums. It has all the positive properties of natural grass, but with the strength and durability of artificial grass. A hybrid grass surface is much more durable and hard wearing than natural grass, it isn’t so affected by bad weather, and it can stand many more playing hours. Perfect for a pitch that’s played on regularly.
- Natural Grass: Still used by some professional football stadiums, natural grass pitches can vary in quality depending on how they’re constructed, and the type of seed used. Unfortunately real grass pitches can limit fixtures compared to synthetic and hybrid grass as they are reliant on weather conditions, as well as extensive maintenance. This is why hybrid turf now tends to be the more preferred option.
- Artificial Turf: Many clubs opt for artificial surfaces as there is a huge cost saving compared to the costs of maintaining real grass pitches. Artificial grass also allows clubs to use their pitches all year round. The first generation turf systems of the 1960s have been largely replaced by the second generation and third generation (also known as 3G) turf systems. Second generation synthetic turf systems feature longer fibers and sand infills, and third generation systems, which are most widely used today, offer infills that are mixtures of sand and granules of recycled rubber. There are now also fourth generation, or 4G pitches. The main difference between 3G and 4G surfaces is that 3G pitches contain infill, whilst 4G systems do not. 3G pitches are the latest to be recognised by any accredited governing body. Therefore, you will only find 3G pitches being publicly endorsed by sports teams or influencers.
You can find a local club that’s right for you, whether you’re looking for football for beginners, football for toddlers, junior football, youth football, kids football, football for children, football for teenagers, boys football, girls football, disability, adult and veteran football teams. Take a look at our handy sport activity finder for clubs and events near you, or on The Football Association website. Or even just a quick internet search will surely bring up lots of local places you can play football, or clubs you can join.