I am particularly looking for a good translation for the German word "Bolzplatz". This is an outdoor area where people can play soccer/football (you know, this is the most favorite sports in Germany).

Dictionaries provided me play area, football area, football ground; none of which really carries the connotation of the German word.
Speaking of connotation, the German word bolzen means something like to kick something aimlessly, unsystematically around. Translation for bolzen could be to kick around/about or perhaps to slam. When playing on a "Bolzplatz", people do not have tactics or strategies. They just kick the ball and try to shoot a goal (oh, yet an aim), but there's no clear pattern how to achieve this.

I've read on Wikipedia that playgrounds may contain an area where people can play such sports, but when I think of the term playground, I rather think of an area for little children with swings, jungle gyms and so on.

While searching the Internet, I've also looked up streetball (although I'm pretty sure that terms related to streetball do not carry the meaning of the German word; when saying "Bolzplatz" I'm definitely not thinking of a basketball court) and came across the term outdoor court. This, however, sounds like a well-kept outdoor area which could even be used for professional sports, but a "Bolzplatz" usually is in a very bad shape, like missing turf or torn goal nets.

Hopefully, I could clarify what the German word "Bolzplatz" means. Is there an English word that reflects the same idea or, at least, similarly as given above?

Here's a picture from the German Wikipedia page on "Bolzplatz".

Young women cavorting on an informal football pitch

  • As I understand it, Bolzplatz has a connotation of childhood development built in, similar to "the bunny slope" for skiiers. Jul 12, 2014 at 2:25
  • FWIW this particular term has fallen out of common use probably some 50 years ago..
    – Jay
    Jul 12, 2014 at 17:50
  • 3
    @Jay An N-gram of Bolzplatz shows exactly the opposite!
    – decvalts
    Jul 12, 2014 at 18:18
  • 1
    @decvalts I agree, in Germany, Bolzplatz is a very common word even today. Oct 14, 2014 at 11:23

9 Answers 9


In British English, at least, this is often called a recreation ground. This also seems to fit your description of being in "...bad shape, like missing turf or torn goal nets." as a lot of them are just mown fields, with basic facilities like a couple of goal posts etc.

Recreation ground in Crawley Green

Colloquially it may be shortened to rec or rec ground in some areas. I think this best reflects the description of somewhere where you would go just to "kick around" like you would on a German Bolzplatz. E.g. "let's go have a kick-about on the rec."


@Steve – you have swayed me to playing fields, which I get the feeling is a more widely used term in English in general.

enter image description here

  • "Playing fields" in @Steve's answer is also a good term for this type of ground.
    – decvalts
    Jul 11, 2014 at 11:04
  • I'm trying to think of when you would use rec ground or playing fields, but I don't think there is a generally accepted difference. (It is just down to local preference for one term or the other.) Local councils/communities will use either one rather arbitrarily. Where I grew up it just happened that the rec ground was for the general public, whereas the playing fields were attached to the local school.
    – decvalts
    Jul 11, 2014 at 13:10
  • "back in my day..."
    – decvalts
    Jul 11, 2014 at 15:30
  • To me neither recration nor playing carries that primitive part that is inherit to bolzen.
    – inf
    Jul 11, 2014 at 15:53
  • @bamboon You are quite right, there is no single word translation of bolzen in English. (Though kick-about would do at a pinch). But Bolzplatz does appear to have several possible translations that convey the meaning adequately.
    – decvalts
    Jul 11, 2014 at 15:57

In the UK, these are generally known as "playing fields":


The use is not specifically for football (they are public areas that can be used for a variety of sports) although that is usually the purpose.

As an example of usage, my local council's web site provides a list of facilities in my own local area, which refers to the "Canterbury Way Playing Fields" which happen to be just outside my house.

  • 1
    +1; "playing fields" is also used in the U.S. Jul 11, 2014 at 13:31

In Ireland, we would call them pitches. In this example, you can see a list of pitches and open spaces in Dublin where people of all ages can play football: http://www.soccer-ireland.com/football-grounds/south-dublin-council-pitches.htm

  • 2
    Isn't a pitch just the normal place where you play football? Like any professional stadium also has a pitch?
    – inf
    Jul 11, 2014 at 15:55
  • It's anywhere with goals really. But could also be somewhere with jumpers for goalposts.
    – Ronan
    Jul 14, 2014 at 13:39

In the US, since the goal fixtures are usually permanent, the areas of a park, or a park set aside for soccer, is called a "soccer field" (sometimes plural if there is more than one set of goals). If similarly facilities are provided for baseball / softball, or basketball, these are referred to as "baseball fields", and "basketball courts".

  • There are lots of U.S. parks which use temporary goals for soccer. Jul 11, 2014 at 13:32
  • Baseball field? Maybe it's regional, but where I'm from, it's a baseball diamond, or just ball diamond.
    – Ray
    Jul 11, 2014 at 17:24
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    @Ray As immortalized in the famous Kevin Costner movie "Diamond of Dreams."
    – Casey
    Jul 11, 2014 at 18:34

In the late 60's/70's this would be a lot. Sometimes called a sandlot. Usually an undeveloped space in a developed neighborhood (urban or suburban). This is an unregulated area (no formal field markings), usually scrap material found on site would be used for marking bases (for baseball) or goals/lines (for soccer/football).

Since the 80's I normally hear of a similar area simply called a field.

  • This is U.S. usage, right? I'm not sure if it's peculiar to the U.S. Jul 13, 2014 at 12:59
  • Correct, U.S. usage.
    – Arluin
    Jul 13, 2014 at 22:03
  • In my experience "sandlot" would usually be used in connection with baseball. Where I grew up, though, we usually played in the street - most often softball, sometimes kickball, but not usually hardball ("real" baseball). Fortunately we were lousy batters, which is probably why I don't recall anyone ever taking out a window or a car windshield. Football was confined to unpaved locations, because we considered flag football and the like to be for wimps. Besides, the whole point was to knock people down without them taking a swing at you. (I got quite indignant the one time someone got mad :-) Dec 9, 2016 at 20:06

I think you are referring to a: recreational area/space

recreational - of or relating to recreation; "a recreational area with a play field and children games."


In the US, we often refer to these areas with names somewhat specific to the sport being played.

Sports like soccer and football are played on a soccer field or football field.

Others are based around a court, like a tennis court, basketball court, volleyball court, etc.

And lastly, some sports are played in places with quite specific names, like a baseball diamond, or a hockey rink.

But soccer by nature is played on a field, so we mostly call them soccer fields.


In New Zealand, (and some parts of Australia), we call them simply "parks" or "fields", a public rough/worn clearing covered in patchy grass and dirt often used for casual games of sports... but I believe these words hold different meanings in other english dialects...


Yeah, just recreation place. Platz is a general word meaning place, like Parkplatz is a parking space or Sitzplatz is a sitting place.

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