The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has a classification system for artificial turf pitches which fall into three categories: Global, Standard and Starter. The classification is based on a series of pitch performance requirements defined by the regulatory bodies and which include the behavior of a field hockey ball and drainage characteristics tested under carefully controlled conditions on the finished pitch surface. These requirements demonstrate varying degrees of playing characteristics, safety and performance related to each category.
FIH turf product approvals are based upon laboratory tests conducted by certified institutes on samples supplied by the manufacturer. Further field tests are carried out by one of the FIH accredited laboratories, which are equipped with the specialized test machinery and apparatus needed. Tests are performance based and geared toward testing the carpet/shock pad combination for playability factors. Tests are of two types:
All tests are conducted in accordance with the FIH Handbook of Performance Requirements for Synthetic Hockey Pitches - Outdoor which is available on the FIH website.
Recognizing environmental concerns about water usage, the FIH announced in 2006 that it is working towards specifying a water-free synthetic turf for top level field hockey. Consultations are currently taking place with the turf industry and the players, and draft specifications are expected to be available for development and consultation by late 2007.
In the interim and in relation to top level field hockey, FIH will continue to specify water-based pitches, even when new generations of turf surfaces are available, as long as pitches meet the FIH performance specifications.