There are a number of different types of artificial turf surfaces available. (1)
- Filled surface: a surface composed of a synthetic yarn filled with sand (or similar material) to the full height of the pile to help maintain its verticality. The pile height is greatest in this type of surface and the infill is an important element to allow adequate drainage at all times.
- Water-based filled surface: a surface comprised of a synthetic yarn filled with sand (or similar material) to between 65% and 80% of the pile height to help maintain its verticality. The pile is a little denser in this surface but the pile height is less. For optimum performance, the FIH recommends this type of surface be watered.
- Unfilled surface (un-watered): a surface comprised of synthetic yarn only. The pile height is less than for a water-based filled surface, but the pile itself is denser so as to provide stability to the turf surface. This type of pitch is rarely used for competitive field hockey as its playing characteristics are inferior to other types.
- Water-based unfilled surface: a surface comprised of a very dense synthetic pile of short length. According to FIH, it is essential from the safety, comfort and playability points of view that this type of surface is maintained wet during play. It also ensures wear on the turf carpet is minimized and the full expected life of the turf is realized.
- Long-pile surface (also known as “third generation” or “rubber crumb” pitch): a surface comprised of a synthetic yarn, the pile of which is much longer and less dense than other types of field hockey surfaces. The turf pitch is partially filled with small rubber granules to about 50% of the pile height although an initial bottom layer of sand is sometimes used. The FIH is reviewing the possible use of this type of pitch for development field hockey but does not, to date, recommend its use for competitive field hockey.
FIH classifies artificial turf pitches into three categories: Global, Standard and Starter. FIH “Standard” category turf is usually sand-filled or sand-dressed; the “Global” category is water-based un-filled. In addition, the FIH recognizes that it is uneconomical to provide a Global or Standard category pitch if major events or high level field hockey are unlikely to be played at the venue, which is why the “starter” category pitch has been created, which provides for good, local levels of field hockey.
Matching Playing Fields to Players Needs
Different components are used depending on the type of artificial turf pitch and each performs a specific role: yarn, infill, backing and shock-pad. The ability to predict how an artificial turf system will respond to changes in specific components, and how they are combined, is becoming increasingly important today in order to create long-lasting, environmentally friendly and high quality performance systems.
Dow understands that design considerations need to be approached from the end user’s perspective. Therefore, when looking at the player’s requirements for artificial turf, the performance criteria applied to Dow's products are comfort, safety and performance.
With its complementary and closely integrated portfolio of materials and technologies, Dow’s artificial turf solutions team can help specifiers and architects make an appropriate decision on every component of artificial turf.
(1) source: International Hockey Federation website