line marker (sports)


A line marker is a device or machine with which lines or markings are drawn on a sports field or
pitch Pitch may refer to: Acoustic frequency * Pitch (music), the perceived frequency of sound including "definite pitch" and "indefinite pitch" ** Absolute pitch or "perfect pitch" ** Pitch class, a set of all pitches that are a whole number of octave ...
. They were originally developed to mark out lawn
tennis Tennis is a racket sport that can be played individually against a single opponent (Types of tennis match#Singles, singles) or between two teams of two players each (Types of tennis match#Doubles, doubles). Each player uses a tennis racket th ...

courts on grass, but later also became used in many other sports with outdoor pitches. The marked lines are often white, but may be any color. A variety of devices have been used, some of them now being
robotic Robotics is an interdisciplinarity, interdisciplinary branch of computer science and engineering. Robotics involves design, construction, operation, and use of robots. The goal of robotics is to design machines that can help and assist humans. ...
ally controlled.


Basic line marking machines for
turf Sod, also known as turf, is grass Poaceae () or Gramineae () is a large and nearly ubiquitous family In , family (from la, familia) is a of people related either by (by recognized birth) or (by marriage or other relationshi ...
were available by the late 1800s. They were originally developed for use on lawn tennis courts. One of the first such machines, a wheel-to-wheel paint transfer device, was developed by F.H. Ayres and "would be instantly recognizable by users of many of today's machines, which work on the same principle". Some of the earliest line marking machines were built on a small scale so they could be used by a child, as the "gardener's boy" who was in charge of marking tennis courts on estates in the late 19th century might have been nine or ten years old.

In baseball

When baseball was first invented there were no marks on the field; foul lines were marked by using a plough to dig along the line. As the game progressed, the ploughed lines would become indistinct from repeated foot traffic, making calls difficult and causing disputes. The use of whitewashed or chalked lines was developed by William Wing, a
Cincinnati Red Stockings The Cincinnati Red Stockings of were baseball Baseball is a bat-and-ball gameBat-and-ball may refer to: *Bat-and-ball games Bat-and-ball games (or safe haven games) are field games played by two opposing teams, in which the act ...
groundskeeper. In 1860 the foul lines, from home plate to first and third bases but not extending beyond, were the first lines marked with whitewash or chalk so as to be clearly seen by the umpire.


Devices for marking lines include types using wheel-to-wheel transfer, wheel-and-gravity feed, belt feed, and
gravity feed Gravity feed is the use of earth's gravity The gravity of Earth, denoted by , is the that is imparted to objects due to the combined effect of (from within ) and the (from the ). In this acceleration is measured in (in symbols, /2 or m ...
. Later developments used professionally include pressure pump systems. Major League Baseball recommends a line marker as essential equipment for maintaining baseball and softball fields. In the 2010s, companies began developing completely robotic line markers which use
GPS The Global Positioning System (GPS), originally Navstar GPS, is a satellite-based radionavigation system owned by the United States government The federal government of the United States (U.S. federal government or U.S. governme ...

input to navigate, intended to eliminate the need for a human to operate the machine or direct the location of the lines being laid. File:トンボとライン引き (6818183634).jpg, Line marker with lines needing repair File:Groundskeepers preparing AT&T Park infield for Cubs at Giants 2010-08-10 3.JPG, Marking lines File:USMC-090413-M-4003C-014 (cropped square).jpg, Line marker in use File:EVERNEW SUPER LINE MARKER (14477665322) (cropped square).jpg, Dry line markers


Lines are marked by applying a very light or very dark material which will stand out against green turf, dirt, clay, or flooring. Materials used to mark lines include or have in the past included
sawdust Sawdust (or wood dust) is a by-product or waste product of woodworking Woodworking is the skill of making items from wood, and includes cabinet making (cabinetry and furniture), wood carving, woodworking joints, joinery, carpentry, and wo ...
hydrated lime Calcium hydroxide (traditionally called slaked lime) is an inorganic compound In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their ...
creosote Creosote is a category of carbonaceous chemicals formed by the distillation Distillation, or classical distillation, is the process of separating the components or substances from a liquid mixture In chemistry Chemistry is the scien ...
, chalk (sometimes referred to as whiting), tape, paint, and various proprietary materials.

On turf

By 1994, both hydrated lime and creosote were no longer recommended due to safety concerns. Sawdust was being used only occasionally by 1994. Chalk or whiting was also losing popularity by 1994, as it did not last well and encouraged weed growth. Proprietary marking solutions, sometimes mixed with chalk or whiting, are considered semi-permanent on turf. Proprietary dry line materials consist of a binder compound combined with a dry aggregate, can be applied to wet or dry surfaces, and are semi-permanent.

On hard surfaces

Tape and paints are primarily used on hard surfaces. Proprietary marking solutions can also be used on hard surfaces.

See also

*Professional Grounds Management Society *Sports Turf Research Institute


{{reflist, em30 Sports equipment Groundskeepers