Synthetic Sports Surfaces

Artificial surfaces are becoming increasingly popular in all elements of life. From replacing a traditional grass lawn with artificial grass to reduce garden maintenance to the installation of play turf to provide a mud-free, low maintenance area for outdoor – or indoor – children’s play areas; you’ll find artificial grass everywhere. They are also used for safety reasons and you’ll find safety surfaces – such as those found in children’s play areas or rubberised, high grip flooring in top-end stable yards – to help minimise the risk of accidents. Artificial surfaces are also commonly used for sports; including Golf, Football, Cricket, Tennis Court Surfaces and Hockey.

Over the past couple of decades there have been huge advances in the performance and quality of artificial sports surfaces. Long gone are the days when a tarmacadam tennis court or cinder running track offered a relatively low-maintenance – and often low-performance – alternative to grass.

Nowadays huge amounts of research and investment, the development of state-of the-art materials and the implementation of rigorous performance standards by various governing bodies for sport mean that pretty much every sport has the option of being played on an artificial surface designed to closely mimic the performance of a good quality natural turf pitch.

The types of artificial sports surfaces on the market have been developed to suit different sports. Sand-filled surfaces are one of the older designs and feature a lighter weight short pile fibre carpet filled almost to the top with sand. This makes the surface stable yet quite rough and hard, so they are not often found in high performance sites, but can be a useful all-round surface for curriculum level football, netball, lower levels of tennis and hockey and general play. Water based artificial surfaces – commonly used for elite hockey – have no sand between the carpet fibres but they do need regular wetting before and sometimes during play.

Sand-dressed artificial sports surfaces feature denser carpets with sand infilled to 5-8 mm depth and provide a good surface for tennis and hockey as well as for curriculum level football. Third Generation – or 3G – artificial sports pitches use carpet with even longer fibres filled with a mix of sand and rubber particles. This mix can be adjusted depending on the sport it will be used for to give a good replica of a well-prepared grass pitch prepared for that specific sport. Football, rugby and MUGA sports pitches – or multi use games areas – from grass roots right up to professional level utilise 3G artificial surfaces.

When it comes to cricket, however, there are even more specific performance criteria that need to be met and this is the area of artificial surface design and construction that total-play specialises in. As any groundsman will attest, fine turf cricket tables take a significant amount of skill and expertise to prepare to the necessary standards set out by the ECB. Total-play’s MD David Bates was Head Groundsman at Northampton CCC for several years, where he won a reputation for preparing some of the finest pitches in the country. In developing the total-play range of artificial cricket surfaces he has drawn on all of this experience.

The result is no less than three artificial cricket pitch systems, all of which carry approval by the ECB (England & Wales Cricket Board) and replicate the performance of a good level league pitch.

While there are some differences in the specifications of the different surfaces they are all designed specifically to provide the correct pace and bounce to promote every aspect of the modern game, providing a safe and consistent surface and can be used for both artificial match pitches and in synthetic cricket practice nets facilities. Over the past few years, a growing number of customers have installed total-play’s cricket based MUGA – or Multi Use Games Area – which, thanks to a retractable netting system, can see an ECB approved artificial cricket practice nets facility transformed quickly and easily into an artificial surface area suitable for general play and other sports.

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