There’s a lot of debate and discussion about the differences between artificial turf and natural grass. While well-designed and maintained natural grass pitches remain to be the gold standard, artificial pitches are growing in popularity as a result of their reliability, economy, and long-term performance.
But the truth is that not all artificial pitches are created equal.
In this article, we’ll discuss the key factors that make a good artificial football pitch.
How do you know that your artificial turf is of the best quality? Here are a few key factors anyone should consider before purchasing and using an artificial turf:
1. SHOCK ABSORPTION Basic physics will tell you that a foot making contact with a surface (such as a pitch) will create impact. In the context of sports, where the force created by this impact goes is vital to a player’s safety. If a pitch is too hard, the force rebounds back up the player’s legs, which can cause all types of injuries to joints, cartilage and bones. On the other hand, if a pitch is too soft, players will experience fatigue while running on the surface. In both extremes, players will not be able to perform at their best.
2. VERTICAL DEFORMATION Imagine that you’re a player running on what you believe to be a flat field. While running, you see that you are about to run into a patch of the field that looks a bit lower than the rest. What will you do? Your reflex will actually be to slow down to keep yourself from tripping on the lowered portion. In a fast-paced game like football, this could result in player collisions and injuries.
Low-quality and poorly installed artificial grass is typically unable to recover its original shape, becoming worn and deformed over time. High-quality artificial grass, when installed and maintained correctly, will preserve its shape.
3. ROTATIONAL RESISTANCE Football is a multi-directional game. Players change the direction with every bounce of the football. A good pitch will support this action, providing grip that allows players to keep stable while changing direction quickly.
4. SLIP-RESISTANCE This is probably one of the most crucial roles your artificial pitch will play to ensure that players stay upright. Low-quality artificial turf usually has poor grip and will cause players to slip, especially in rainy days. High-quality turf has a good grip that keeps players upright even when the pitch gets wet.
5. SKIN INTERACTION Football is an incredibly physical game. A player will slide, scrape, and roll on the pitch for many times over the course of the game. It is therefore crucial that the artificial grass does not cause friction that will damage the skin.It is equally important that the artificial pitch stays cool on hot days. A hot pitch feels like hot sand and can make your pitch unplayable. High-quality turf stays cool and is comfortable for players to play on.
6. BALL-SURFACE INTERACTION One of the most crucial factors of an artificial turf in relation to game play is that it allows the ball to behave as if it were on natural grass. A ball on artificial turf cannot behave differently as it does on natural grass. That will greatly affect player performance and, in effect, prevent the player from playing the game as best as he can. This is a key consideration in FIFA Certification, dictating what level of certification an artificial pitch will get.
At the end of the day, the most important factor to consider is player safety. Owners of football pitches have a responsibility to maintain a pitch in a way that enables the best playing environment, taking into consideration player safety and athletic performance.
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