The most important time to protect the sports fields are the rainy weeks. When I played pro soccer, my coaches would always use different parts of the field. The main purpose was to keep the fields nice. Rainy days we would end up training just off the field or in the corners. Parks and rec do their best to keep people from playing on rainy days, but coaches, parents and players need to help. There is a way to get your training in without destroying the fields. Note: This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
Respecting the fields
Not too long ago I was finishing up my day of private lessons on the tennis courts. It had rained for several days and the fields were drenched. As I walked to my vehicle to go home, I passed by a dad and his kids who had the speed ladder set up 10 yards in front of the goal. They had torn up that part of the field so bad. As coaches, parents or players we need to respect the fields. Treat the property like it were your own.
Learning from the pros
If you ever pay attention to pro soccer, you’ll see how they respect the pitch. At training or even during pre-game, they will move the goals. Sometimes the goalkeepers keep them on the goal line, but move them wide to the corner area of the field. Other times they will move them up to the 6 yard box or 18.
The reason they move the goals is so they don’t tear up the field/pitch. Goalkeepers are the ones who can damage the field most. The way they warm-up and practice causes lots of footwork that tears up the grass. So out of respect they will move the goal from place to place. The corners of the field are the most healthy because they get the least amount of use.
Field players will also warm up on the sides of the fields. You see this in youth club soccer too. Rec soccer, you’ll see them practicing down the middle with the one line passing to coach and then score. This drill is terrible by the way. No reason to have 1 long line – ever.
Ways to work together as a community
Whatever town or city you live in the world, make sure you are respecting your community fields. On days where it rains so hard that the fields are closed we have to stay off. One way you can still train is by using the tennis court, sidewalk, parking lot. Maybe you can’t use the same practice plan, but you can do stationary skill work, strength and balance exercises.
If you do use the tennis courts make sure you respect their courts. Try to do your training off the actual court, to the back corners. This way if a tennis player or coach walks up they see you have that respect for their court.
Then there are situations you just don’t get yourself in. You wouldn’t see a soccer team practicing on the outfield or infield of a baseball field. Even though I would love to play soccer on a nice outfield, I wouldn’t. Okay I did a private lesson on a baseball field because the park where I was at had no good grass. But I respected the grass/field.
Protecting the sports fields and your brand
So for any sport, whether it be on grass, court, dirt or sand we need to think about the longevity of these facilities and those who take care of them. It takes time and money to keep them up. You also want to keep your personal brand strong by having that knowledge to protect the sports fields.
If you are approached by someone and asked to get off the field, make sure you respect that person and act with class. Most people show favor when you are being professional towards them. This helps you in the future because nobody has anything bad to say about you.
There have been a few times where I drive up to soccer training and find that the soccer complex has rented the space out to a large balloon festival or carnival. So next to the soccer field is a football field that I use. Knowing that football coaches usually don’t like soccer, I set up in the endzone or on the outside of the field. This way I don’t mess up their field and if they do show up they see that I am respecting the field.
Protect the sports fields by using different areas
I remember many of my pro coaches would set up training in different parts of the field. Game day the starters would train on the side, while the subs would be spread out hitting long balls. Training would be set up on the sides or in the corners. The corners don’t get used much in games or practice, so they have better thicker grass. You see pictured below the training sticks are set up in the corner of the field. This exercise would be used after they warm up and stretch. After 5-15 minutes they would move on to something else, using a different part of the field.
Even small sided games like 7v7 should be played on the outside of the field. There are times and drills where you have to use the middle, but if we can change it up and use different parts of the field. This will help keep the grass healthier. If you see that you are killing a certain spot, move your drill so that it can grow back faster.
Goalie training and education
How about this. Do you ever wonder why the spot in front of the goal is dirt? And the younger the kids are the deeper the dirt spot is. In games and practice keepers get so bored, that they start kicking and digging at that spot 1 yard in front of the goal. I think they should they get yellow cards for this at a certain age lol. For the younger kids this is going to happen and that’s part of the game.
When a goalie trainer, player or parent sets up their goalkeeper drills for footwork right in front of the goal, this is unnecessary and kills the field. If you watch any goalie session you will see them spend 15 minutes on their footwork. This requires them to move their feet in and out of some cones and then catching a ball thrown or kicked at them. The best place to do this part of the drill is, you guessed it – off the field.
Then when it’s time to take shots and not work on your jumping and change of direction drills get on the field. This small adjustment will help you take great care of the fields you train on and you set that culture in your community.
Best place for speed and agility ladder
Most of the time and especially if you use it a lot, the best place for a speed ladder is off the field. Speed ladder, stationary passing drills, cone drills and GK drills are by far the top grass killers. Another idea after you have used the ladder for a few minutes is move it over a few feet. This helps protect the sports fields.
Like the story of the dad and two kids who killed the spot in the field. Let’s keep the fields nice and smooth by playing soccer on them, not speed drills. You can set your culture and teach other people to do this training literally 2 yards off the field or behind or to the side of the goal. Just make sure footwork and speed drills are done off the field. Then when it’s time to play – step on the field.
Get your training gear here – but remember don’t mess up the fields.