Five questions everyone asks about artificial turf sports fields
Maybe you’re trying to decide whether to install an artificial turf field or a natural grass field. Or you’ve already decided to go the synthetic route and now you just need to win over a few remaining stakeholders. We know most of the questions you’re going to hear and figure we could save you some time by summarizing the answers you’ll want to give.
Are artificial fields only for practices and lower-level teams?
Nope, not any more. Some leagues may still require that all competitive games take place on natural grass, but increasingly turf is used for playing and training. Even within those leagues that have a natural grass requirement for games, the teams often have artificial turf in their training facility. It’s more cost-effective, longer-lasting and is every bit as playable (sometimes more so) than natural grass.
Don't players get injured more often on artificial turf?
If they ever did, it was back in the day when artificial fields felt artificial. The base layers, infill granules and fibers of modern turf fields are all designed to mimic the best parts of natural surfaces.
The playing surface is soft so players do not absorb a greater impact when running or landing than on a natural surface. The traction on artificial turf is designed to let players accelerate and change direction without sticking or sliding.
And, since turf is more consistent and controlled than natural grass, there’s much less risk of the freak injuries of landing on a stone, getting your foot caught temporarily in a divot or having to adjust in a sudden and uncontrolled way to an unexpected bounce.
Are turf fields less expensive over the long-term?
What sports can play on artificial turf fields?
Because each sport has different playing characteristics, different artificial turf systems work better for some than others. When you start the planning and budgeting process, it helps to know what sport(s) will be taking place on the field. If you don’t know or simply want to keep your options open, go for a multi-use turf system that supports a variety of sports as well as non-sport activities.
What about environment, health and safety?
Synthetic fields do not require as much water as natural grass, do not require fertilizer or pesticides and do not need to be mowed, which means you won’t be using as much gas. The field itself is made of plastic fibers – petroleum-based, yes, but increasingly recycled – so overall, synthetic fields have a smaller footprint.
Turf fields do retain heat more than natural grass. On hot days, the playing surface – and, therefore, the players – may be hotter than they would be on an adjacent grass field. However, the extra heat will probably not be significant compared to the overall conditions. Even so, this is something the coaches and athletic trainers should be aware of as they plan water breaks and cooling systems (like fans and misters), and educate the athletes on heat safety.
Artificial surfaces and the infill granules are a combination of cork, rubber and synthetic materials, so they should not be ingested. Keeping toddlers, infants and pets off the surface should minimize this risk (and is better for the overall condition of the field).
What other questions do you have?
These are just some of the most frequently asked questions, but you probably have others. Ask us, and on the off chance we don’t know the answer, we promise that we know someone who does!