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Why are Soccer Fields so Big?

Why are Soccer Fields so Big?


If you’ve ever run laps, you’ve probably bemoaned the fact that soccer fields are so large. Luckily, we have air supported domes to create indoor spaces large enough to house a soccer field, but why do they need to be so big? Who decided that a soccer field should be the size of, well, a soccer field?


It might surprise you that soccer actually started out on a much larger scale. Somewhere around the 9th Century in England, the game would span an entire town as everyone would try and kick a pig’s bladder from one landmark to another.


But the modern field as we know it today began to take shape in the late 16th and early 17th centuries when soccer goals were first described.


In 1863, a group of English schools and clubs met up to decide on official rules for the game of soccer (or football as it was known). They published the original 14 laws of the game, one of which standardized the field of play.


In the original laws, the field (or grounds as it was then called) could be up to 100 yards wide and 200 yards long. After that, the modern shape of the soccer pitch took shape, with lines being added in for the boundaries, middle, and penalty box. The modern goal was standardized to 8 feet high and 8 yards long.


Did you know, though, that there isn’t one standard size for a soccer pitch? You’d think that since the first laws were set, someone at some point would have defined a single standard field size, but you’d be wrong.


The FIFA regulations for a soccer field states that there are acceptable ranges for the width and length of the field. The field should be rectangular in shape and be between 100 yards and 130 yards in length (90m to 120m) and 50 to 100 yards in width (45m to 90m). Fields for international matches are a little bit more restrictive and need to be 100 to 110 meters in length and 64 to 75 meters in width.


Interestingly, this means that most soccer fields are wider than standard American or Canadian football fields. An American football field has a standard width of 53 1/3 yards, and Canadian football fields are slightly wider at 65 yards.


So, while a football field does fit within the parameters of a soccer field, a pitch that’s created for soccer would most likely be larger than a football field.


Because two different soccer fields might have different dimensions, it creates an added challenge for dome building. One soccer dome might need to be slightly larger than another soccer dome, simply because the field itself is a little bit larger. It’s a good thing that each dome is custom designed and planned out to make sure that there’s enough room to cover your field, however big it is!

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Sports complex with velodrome pops up in Detroit

Sports complex with velodrome pops up in Detroit


Detroit  - The bright white air dome that will house the Detroit Fitness Foundation's multisport complex at I-75 and Mack Avenue in Detroit went up Wednesday. The complex, first announced in January, will be part of the city's planned improvements to Tolan Playfield there.


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Winding Down For The Season: How To Keep Active Over The Winter For Soccer Players

Winding Down For The Season: How To Keep Active Over The Winter For Soccer Players 


As the months get colder, the outdoor soccer season winds down. Not surprisingly, the weather makes it more difficult to play a sport like soccer in the open air. However, serious soccer players know they cannot just stop playing and sit on the couch all winter: they have to stay active in order to keep their performance up when the season resumes. So what can they do? Here are three major ways for soccer players to keep active over the winter:


Walk It Off


Perhaps the simplest all-around fitness tip, regardless of season, is to simply walk everywhere you can. This includes taking the stairs at work and school, walking around the mall (just avoid the food court), and even walking outside when the weather permits.

In terms of walking outside during the winter, you just need the proper outdoor clothing and footwear to combat the cold and snow on the ground. So long as there isn’t a blizzard, it’s still possible to walk many places in the winter. Just try not to slip on any ice.


Outdoor Winter Sports


Even though the summer sports might wind down, there are still a whole host of other winter activities to help you remain active as a soccer player during the off-season. Perhaps the most popular of these is hockey. You can also try skiing, snowboarding, or even snowshoeing, if the conditions permit it.

Even though these sports are not the same as soccer, they still help players maintain their physical ability and condition other muscles, which means a smooth transition back to playing soccer.


Indoor Training


You can maintain a good level of physicality indoors, whether you go to a local gym or watch workout DVDs within the comfort of your own home. Some basic things, such as running on a treadmill, are also perfect activities for soccer players to remain active during the winter, particularly because a soccer player needs to maintain their cardio fitness.

Apart from treadmill exercise, most other forms of indoor training would work well for soccer players, particularly those involving a high level of hand-eye coordination.


Play in a Dome


Of course, just because you cannot play soccer outdoors on a nice, grassy field during the winter does not mean you need to stop! You can easily stay active during the winter by playing soccer in an air-supported structure. Domes make ideal spaces in which people can play during any season or weather, since they can protect you from both the harsh temperatures of winter and the blowing snow it often brings. This means that you can focus on the game (or practice) instead of the conditions surrounding you. Air-supported structures also boast quality playing surfaces that will always be well-maintained. Keep up your skills as a soccer player during the winter by doing the best thing: playing soccer!

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7 Myths about Indoor Tennis

7 Myths about Indoor Tennis


Tennis is both a wonderful sport and an excellent way to stay in shape, though it can be a bit of a challenge in Canada.


Let’s face it, you can only comfortably play tennis outdoors for about half of the year. This may not even be the case from coast to coast. Fortunately, indoor tennis in air-supported domes makes the harsh conditions of fall and winter an afterthought when it comes to playing tennis. The only potential trouble you have now is negotiating a few snow-covered roads in your car on the way to the game.


Regardless, we suspect there might still be a few sceptics out there who feel indoor tennis is a compromise that does not present this time-honoured game in its truest form. This is a myth! Here are seven more indoor tennis myths that also deserve immediate debunking.  


1. It’s Stuffy and Uncomfortable to Play Inside a Dome


The great outdoors means fresh air, a nice breeze, and ideal playing conditions, right? Not necessarily. In fact, your wonderful afternoon on the courts could easily fall apart thanks to high humidity, blinding sun, troubling wind gusts, and unexpected rain.


Domes are completely climate controlled and offer optimal, predictable comfort 365 days a year. It will be just as nice to play in a dome on January 1st as it is on July 1st.  


2. Playing Indoors Causes Major Changes in Your Game


For the vast majority of players, this will not be the case. The only point of interest here is that domes will offer a cooler playing temperature during the warmer months than outdoor play. This can cause balls to bounce slower indoors, but most any player can quickly adjust their game accordingly to accommodate this difference.   


3. There Isn’t Sufficient Lighting to Play Properly 


Domes are huge; how can they have enough lighting to keep the courts properly illuminated? Well, they can and do thanks to the miracle of dome LED lighting systems, which are bright, dependable, and use less energy than older forms. 



4. It’s Too Cramped Inside a Dome


This is not the case. Careful planning allows domes to make maximum use of the available space. This ensures sufficient room for the tennis courts and any other activities housed inside.


5. The Dome Ceiling Will Limit My Game


Unless your game strategy involves hitting the ball dozens of feet in the air and having it rain down on your opponents, a dome’s ceiling height will not come close to being a factor.


6. You Can’t Play a Round Robin Inside a Dome


See #4. A carefully organized Round Robin can occur either outside or indoors. Planners simply figure out the space they have available, decide on how many players can participate, and schedule the matches accordingly. Playing inside or outside does not factor into it.


7. You Can’t Find Partners to Play During the Winter


We may not know where you play, but a lack of players has not been our experience. In fact, once a dome opens in an area and announces they have tennis courts, people are often scrambling to book court time. This is especially true when it is no longer comfortable to use the outdoor courts.


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How Long Does It Take to Build a Dome? The Timeline for Constructing an Air-Supported Structure

How Long Does It Take to Build a Dome? The Timeline for Constructing an Air-Supported Structure


Thinking about a dome but not sure on the timing? While domes are not necessarily permanent structures and are quicker to construct than other building types, you can’t simply decide on a whim to put one up just anywhere.


Domes require significant site preparation and infrastructure and are subject to applicable building codes and permitting, as laid out by your local building authorities. The construction process might be quicker overall, but the planning and approvals can take just as long.


1. The Approvals Process


The approvals process can take several months, and possibly even a year, before your general contractor can begin site work and The Farley Group can begin fabricating your dome. It typically involves receiving site plan approval, sorting out any zoning issues (including any necessary variances), and the application and issuing of building permits.


For best results, we collaborate with your local team of professionals that know the area and its requirements. This is a proven way of speeding up the process and cutting through red tape.


Site construction typically begins in late spring or early summer for the project to be completed by the fall, so it is a good idea to start the approvals process as early as 12 months before.


2. Site Preparation


Just as with any kind of building, the site chosen for the dome almost always undergoes some initial preparation. This typically involves clearing of any debris, removal of old structures or foliage, and balancing of the land. Environmental remediation may also be required before new construction can begin.  The site preparation process can be short or involved, depending upon the amount of work and the degree of difficulty.  Of course, if your dome is going to be constructed over an existing field, bank of tennis courts, or a pool, then this phase of the project will be minimal.


3. Site Construction


Before we can erect the dome, it is necessary to lay the required groundwork. All site construction is contracted locally with a general contractor or construction manager and is performed by their sub-contractors.  Most important here is the construction of the concrete grade beam, which is the anchoring system for the air-supported structure, along with concrete pads for peripheral components like entrances/exits, and the dome’s mechanical equipment.


This phase of the project also includes excavation and the preparation of the sub-base for the dome’s interior surface, plus installation of the electrical/gas infrastructure. The timeline here can vary from 4-6 weeks for smaller dome projects and up to 3 or 4 months for larger ones. Delays in this stage usually result from the installation/commission of utility services by the utility companies.


It is common for dome projects to simultaneously have the entrance/clubhouse building under construction. It is also during this stage that other site improvements occur. These can include adding sewer/storm water management infrastructure, creation of the parking lot and laneway, and installation of lighting for those areas.


4. The Interior Surface


Depending on the phasing of the project, completion of the interior surface could occur before or after installation of the dome. That interior surface can take 1-4 weeks, depending on the type of surface and size of the dome.


5. Installation of the Dome Package


Installation can occur following completion of work on the site. This installation process takes anywhere from just a few days for very small domes to a few weeks for large ones. The dome itself arrives to the site in sections that are rolled up into large bundles for shipping.  These bundles are then strategically placed so they can be unrolled, spread out, and connected to one another and to the grade beam anchoring system around the whole perimeter of the dome’s footprint. 


Once the dome is secured in place, it’s just a matter of inflation. Filling the dome with air and watching it rise is one of the most exciting parts and usually gathers a decent crowd because you can blink and miss it! The powerful inflation system can fill the dome from flat to full in just a few short hours.


After the dome is inflated and stabilized, the entry and exit components are installed and connected, along with the interior lighting system, the dome’s insulation material, and any other finishing touches that are required. 


The facility must then pass final inspections before your building authority grants an occupancy permit. This will include not only the dome itself, but also the entrance building (if applicable) and any other aspects of the project that relate to the safety of the facility. 


Overall, the typical dome construction timeline spans several months from breaking ground to being ready for public use. So, if you’re doing the math, you can see why it’s important to start planning early. While a dome can go up relatively quickly, there’s plenty of room for delays. Because building a dome is a team effort, a slowdown in one aspect of the project can bring the whole process to a standstill. This is where planning and experience make the difference as to whether a dome is ready or not for the season!



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5 Commitments Every Great Athlete Makes

5 Commitments Every Great Athlete Makes


No athlete can be the best unless they have a solid plan, and put that plan into action. After all, you need to be in peak condition to perform well, regardless of the specific sport. So what commitments does every great athlete make? Well, there are five core commitments—drop one and be ready for your performance to drop as well.


Healthy Diet


Eating fast food, chips, candy, and other junk foods might taste good at first, but it does no favours to your body. This is why great athletes make the commitment to maintain a balanced and healthy diet. This includes lots of leafy greens, protein, and whole grains.

If you want to make the same kind of commitment, but don’t know where to start, we highly recommend consulting a registered dietician or nutritionist. In fact, most professional athletes consult one on a regular basis to ensure their diet stays on the right track for all their health and fitness needs.


Regular Exercise


Beyond practicing the sport itself, all great athletes make sure they exercise on a regular basis to build muscle as well as maintain their general fitness level. This often means regular jogs, lifting weights, cardio exercises, and other physical activities. This ensures they can maintain their fitness in a variety of ways, which is essential to ensure certain muscles are not overworked.

In addition, regular exercise is often the best way for an athlete to stay in shape if they engage in a team sport like hockey or soccer, both of which need other people to practice specific skills.


Practice Year Round


Speaking of practicing their chosen sport, great athletes always make the commitment to practice their sport year-round. But what if they weather is not cooperating? What happens if the soccer field is covered in snow or the swimming pool needs to close? What about muddy tennis courts?

Turning an outdoor sports field into an indoor facility is possible with an air dome.  Domes create the perfect space to practice soccer throughout the winter on a field, safe from the snow. The rain cannot make the tennis courts muddy if the dome protects them.


Proper Recovery and Rest


Of course, even great athletes cannot exercise and practice all the time without the risk of injuring themselves. Though they may be able to do more than the average individual, even an athlete can overwork their body and put it at risk for pulled muscles, shin splints, sprained joints, or worse. Thus, great athletes should commit to proper recovery and rest.


What does this mean? Rest may shift depending on the person, but it means taking a break during the workout (including drinking lots of water), and taking a day off from exercise completely every so often. This is a significant help to preventing injuries.


Proper recovery also means that, in the event an injury does occur, the athlete takes the time necessary for the injury to heal completely before diving back in. After diving back in, of course, it means taking things slower and then ramping back up to prevent the injury from coming around again so soon.


Consult Health Professionals


Whether it’s for dietary needs, general health, a sports injury specialist, or anything else health or medical related, great athletes know the benefit of consulting health and medical professionals to help make sure they have the right resources so their bodies remain fit and healthy. This all leads to top performance when they play their sport.

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Five Ways to Be Constantly Improving Your Soccer Skills

Five Ways to Be Constantly Improving Your Soccer Skills


Regular practice is key to mastering any skill and that also applies to soccer. Even the best in the sport are constantly thinking about what they can do to become better. Any player that’s happy to just coast on existing skills soon find themselves falling behind. Those that stay at the top are constantly analyzing other players and studying what makes them good. They then come up with strategies that leave opponents in the dust.


To really succeed in soccer and to play at an elevated level, you must constantly be improving your skills. Here are five things to keep in mind to do just that:


Master Some Basic Moves


To succeed at any sport, you must first learn the basics. For example, you won’t get far in hockey if you aren’t a strong skater. Soccer players must also know how to perform essential maneuvers on the field so they can both effectively control the ball and evade opponents. With these fully in your wheelhouse, you have the background to move on to other skills to further enhance your game.


Choose five basic skills where you need some improvement and work on them regularly. Starting with the sort of flashy, grandstanding moves you see the pros do on TV won’t make you a player on their level. In fact, it is more likely to get you washed out because you won’t even have the fundamentals to pull them off in the first place.


Get Instruction from an Expert


Finding a mentor is always a wonderful way to improve because they have the knowledge to point out what is both wrong and right about your current skill set. Experts provide the sort of detailed tips that allow you to concentrate on specific issues, while also being aware of other areas where improvement is not as much of a priority.


Play with a Team


It’s one thing to learn on your own; to really understand the best ways of putting your soccer skills into practice, you need to work regularly with other players. This allows you to communicate effectively, learn your teammates’ strengths, know how to move the ball most effectively, and offer the best defense for your goaltender. Soccer is a team sport and for a team to win, everyone must be in sync.


Build Your Endurance


A key skill in soccer is moving the ball more than moving yourself; that allows you to maintain your speed and energy levels longer. However, the greatest way to ensure that you have what it takes to be at your best throughout is to build your endurance. Seek out exercises you enjoy that will accomplish this and do them regularly, in order to stay at a consistent level. If you don’t have to worry about running out of steam, you can fully devote your concentration to working on other aspects of the game.

Practice Practice Practice


You may be able to instantly ride a bike after years of not having one, but soccer requires regular play in order to build and maintain your level of expertise. Whether you are just casually kicking around a ball with friends or playing in a league, getting out and doing it with regularity cannot help but make you a better player.


If your local climate makes outdoor soccer an impossibility during the winter months, don’t worry: you can continue practicing all-year-round in an air-supported dome. Contact your local facility to learn more about dates and times. You may even find that there is a league looking for dedicated and enthusiastic players like yourself.

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What’s the Difference Between an Air-Inflated Structure and an Air-Supported Structure?

What’s the Difference Between an Air-Inflated Structure and an Air-Supported Structure?


Here at The Farley Group, we create air-supported structures. But as with any unique type of structure, the terminology can be confusing. If you’re a stickler for language, you might be interested to know that there is actually a difference between an air-inflated structure and an air-supported structure.


Yes, technically they should mean the same thing, but the English language tends to not play by the rules. Just look at the word “colonel,” if you need an example of English’s oddities.


So, if they’re not the same thing, what are they?


Air-inflated structures  (a.k.a., inflatable buildings) create space by inflating beams, arches, ceilings and walls, whereas it’s the entire structure that traps the air with an air-supported structure.


Still confused? Well as an example, think about an inflated bouncy play castle. That would technically be an air-inflated structure. The air is trapped within the membranes of the walls themselves and the space to be occupied by people is open to the outside atmosphere.


An air-supported structure traps the air in the usable space of the structure, which means that the interior has a slightly higher air pressure than outside.


Air-inflated structures, therefore, don’t need controlled entrance and exit points as air-supported structures do. The air should stay trapped between the membranes without the need for airlocks.


While the two types of air structures both have benefits, there are reasons why you would pick one over the other.


Air-supported structures are better suited for large structures, like those needed for indoor sports or to cover large areas. The Farley Group’s air-supported structures are created for things like soccer fields, large swimming pools, tennis facilities, and multisport facilities where large clear-span space is necessary.


Air-supported structures are also better able to withstand the forces of nature than inflatable buildings. A concrete grade beam is part of the foundation and is needed not just to help seal the air in, but to give added strength and support to anchor a dome in place. Also, the air pressure in an air-supported structure can be modulated to fit the needs of whatever the weather is doing. This adaptability makes it possible to better prepare and still be confident that the dome will withstand the test of time.


Air-inflated structures are better purposed for smaller, portable uses. They typically don’t have a foundation so they can be set up and taken down anywhere. Typically, where you might use a tent, you could use an air-inflated building instead.


While air inflated buildings share some of the same principles, they are quite different from air-supported structures. Each type of structure has its own purpose, as well, so it’s difficult to compare the two. Because the two are so different, though, it’s important to get the terminology right!

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Air Structure Word of the Day: Tensegrity

Air Structure Word of the Day: Tensegrity


Tensegrity sounds like an odd-Frankenstein of a word—and it is—but it holds special relevance in the world of air supported structures. While it’s not a word that you’ll find in the vocabulary of most people, it’s likely to be known by those that work in building design, like architects and engineers.


The word was coined by the inventor and architect, R. Buckminster Fuller, the clever inventor of another type of dome structure, the geodesic dome. Tensegrity was a logical combination of the two words tension and integrity and fit his needs for a word to describe his unique engineering ideas. The word describes the principle that the structural integrity, or how strong a structure is, is related to the amount of tension placed on that structure.


A typical construction gains its structural integrity through compression. In other words, bricks and beams with a lot of weight press down into a strong foundation to help keep the whole structure together.


This isn’t the only way for buildings or structures to keep their shape, though. With tensegrity, it’s not compression of the walls or joists that hold up the structure, but outside tension. So basically, a force that’s creating tension on the structure is actually what is holding the whole thing together.


But what does this mean in the world of air domes?


Well it’s exactly this principle that gives strength and support to an air supported structure. The tensegrity maintains the shape and helps it resist the forces of gravity and the winds that push against it. It’s just an obscure way to think about it that the air pressure itself is creating the tension. Instead of cables or ropes creating the tension, it’s the pressure differential between the inside and outside.


As soon as the tension is broken (i.e., the pressure is released), the dome will begin to sag.


Interestingly, as with most words, tensegrity has been appropriated for a single purpose and is typically used to describe a different type of construction. When talking about tensegrity structures, engineers are usually talking about cable and strut types of structures. In other words, the elements that hold things up, the struts, are themselves held in place through tension on cables that are attached to them.


Some of the most high-profile tensegrity structures are the Spodek structure in Poland and the Seoul Olympic Gymnastics Arena that was designed by David Geiger. There are also a good number of art pieces that were created with the principle of tensegrity—the structures often seem to defy logic.


Now that you’re an expert on tensegrity, if ever the chance comes up in conversation to use the word, you’ll be able to pull it out in complete confidence! Just don’t try using it in Scrabble. Unfortunately, tensegrity hasn’t made its way into the Official Scrabble dictionary—of course we checked!

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5 Reasons To Attend Summer Sport Camps

5 Reasons To Attend Summer Sport Camps


One of the most common things parents think about during the summer are ways of keeping their kids occupied. After all, many parents continue working through the summer, save for a week or two of vacation, while their children have the time off. If the kids are not old enough to stay home by themselves, summer tends to require more planning.


To that end, summer sport camps are incredibly popular with parents. They also provide much more for the kids, beyond just getting them out of the house during the day.


Stay Active


Perhaps the most iconic reason to attend summer sport camps—whether it be for soccer, tennis, or another activity—is the physical activity benefit. It keeps participants active throughout the summer months through practices, drills, and games. Some summer sport camps, particularly soccer camps, will also have a tournament at the end of the season, with prizes for the winning team.


Overall, this means attending a summer sport camp will limit time spent on the couch watching television or playing video games.


Make New Friends


When you play a team sport like soccer, you will get to know your team members quite well through each practice and game you play together. This comradery grows a great deal when you attend summer sport camps. The reason is because most camps will separate the campers into teams for games and a tournament. They may also shift the teams around depending on the length of the camp.

Regardless, a sports camp is a great place to meet new people with similar interests, which is a major building block for making new friends.


Specialized Training


In many instances, attending a summer sport camp for tennis, soccer, et cetera, provides opportunities to really delve into specialized training for the specific sport. This is because the camps are dedicated to that activity, freeing up as much time as possible to learn the various techniques for serving, different soccer plays, et cetera. The exact specialized training will vary based on the specific sport at the camp.


Mental Activity


In addition to the physical activity mentioned previously, summer sport camps are also an effective method of staying mentally active, particularly when playing a sport such as tennis. This is because players will constantly focus on the rules of the game and the different strategies to employ. They can also improve things like their hand-eye coordination.


For students attending, the increase in mental activity throughout the summer months also allows for an easier transition back to their formal education.


Playing Fields and Practice Time


Many summer sport camps have access to high quality playing fields and courts for the sports they offer. This is something some individuals may not have sufficient access to on a regular basis, which limits their ability to practice on real playing fields and courts. In addition, summer sport camps, when they take place in domes, also permit the camp attendees to play regardless of the weather outside, which once again provides more opportunities to practice on real fields without concern.


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