Why it’s Important to Keep the Infill Material Topped Up on a 3G Synthetic Sports Pitch
Amateur and professional sports teams, recreation centres, gyms and sports clubs are increasingly turning to synthetic turf to meet their sporting needs.
And for good reason, too, as synthetic sports turf has many advantages over its real grass counterpart.
It is low maintenance, can be played on in all weathers, is ideal for a wide variety of sports and can withstand use almost around the clock, making it an excellent financial investment.
3G pitches are becoming more and more commonplace amongst professional sports teams.
Synthetic turf was approved by FIFA back in 2004, when they decided to include 3G football turf in the Laws of the Game and endorse them to be used in major competitions, including FIFA World Cup qualification matches and the UEFA Champions League.
It is also used in professional rugby. One of the country’s top professional rugby teams, Saracens, installed a 3G rugby pitch at their home ground, Allianz Park, back in 2013.
One of the key maintenance tasks is ensuring that the infill material is kept at the correct level.
Synthetic sports pitches typically consist of artificial fibres, ranging in length between 12mm–50mm, followed by a sand and/or rubber crumb infill.
The type of infill to be used depends upon the intended use for the turf.
Football and rugby pitches require both a sand and rubber infill, whereas a tennis court only requires a sand infill.
Today’s article is about the importance of ensuring that the infill materials are kept topped up to the optimum level on a 3G synthetic sports pitch.
There are many reasons why clubs should keep on top of the maintenance, but we’re going to explain the four biggest reasons for doing so.
1. It Ensures the Turf Performs Correctly
In the early days of synthetic sports pitches – think back to the 1980s and 1990s – one of the biggest issues was replicating the bounce and performance of real grass pitches.
With the original fake turf pitches, the ball just didn’t behave in the same way.
This all changed, however, with the introduction of rubber crumb infill.
Rubber crumb perfectly mimics the roll and bounce of real grass pitches, making synthetic turf a viable and desirable option for sports pitches.
Therefore, a large part of the performance of synthetic turf pitches comes down to the rubber crumb infill, so it stands to reason that if the level of infill material is lower than it needs to be, playability will suffer.
As part of the regular maintenance procedures, synthetic 3G pitches should be lightly brushed after every 10 to 15 hours of play. This ensures a consistent and even playing surface.
Topping up of the infill material across the entire pitch probably won’t need to happen as regularly as this, but most synthetic pitches are likely to need regular localised topping up of the infill material. Little and often is recommended.
Certain areas of the pitch, such as goalmouths, penalty spots and centre circle, are more likely to require additional infill material, as they will see most of the action during play.
Of course, not all synthetic sports pitches require a rubber infill. Tennis courts, for example, don’t. They do however, require a sand infill and the principles are the same for this, too.
In order for the surface to perform correctly, the sand infill must be at the correct level.
2. It Ensures Proper Drainage
Another great reason to keep on top of the levels of infill material is for drainage purposes.
Infill material, both rubber crumb and sand, helps to facilitate drainage.
One of the major advantages of synthetic turf, if maintained correctly, is that it is a free-draining surface, meaning it won’t become waterlogged. Clearly, one of the biggest problems with real grass pitches is the fact that, especially during the autumn and winter months, they can become boggy mudbaths.
This, of course, affects the quality of play.
This won’t be a problem with a synthetic pitch, as long as you keep on top of the infill maintenance.
It is important to ensure that it is regularly brushed to prevent the infill from becoming overly compacted, as this can affect the permeability of the surface.
Drag brushing, as part of the regular maintenance routine, is highly recommended to stop this from happening.
The infill material helps to control the flow of water through the turf and if the levels are too low, water may flow through too quickly, so it’s important to keep the infill material topped up for this purpose, too.
3. It Protects the Synthetic Fibres
It’s also important to keep the infill material topped up on your synthetic sports pitch to ensure that the artificial fibres are protected from excessive wear.
Infill materials, whether sand or rubber crumb, help to support and protect the synthetic fibres.
If the level of infill material gets too low, the synthetic fibres will be more exposed.
This may potentially cause excessive wear to the fibres, resulting in them lying flat, and potentially causing permanent damage, so affecting the lifespan of the turf.
Synthetic fibres used for sports pitches are designed to be supported by the infill material and so it’s important to ensure the levels are kept topped up to protect the yarn.
4. It Helps to Prevent Injuries
Another side effect of low levels of infill material is that if the fibres are overexposed, there is an increased chance of injures occurring.
Plastic fibres have naturally smooth properties, meaning that when the level of infill material becomes too low, the playing surface could become slippery.
This will increase the potential for slips and trips, which could lead to injuries.
Injury prevention is very important for both amateur and professional sportsmen alike. It could be argued that it’s perhaps even more so for the professional, as each time they set foot on the playing surface, career and financial gain for both player and club are at stake.
Both sand and rubber infill materials provide excellent stability underfoot and will prevent users from unnecessary injuries.
Let’s face it, installing a 3G synthetic pitch for your club or team is a big financial investment.
Clearly, it’s essential that you protect the investment you are making and ensure that the pitch lasts as long as it possibly can.
One of the best ways of doing this is to keep the infill materials topped up to the correct levels.
Not only will this ensure the longevity of your turf, but it will also ensure that it performs at its best, and provides the best playing experience, too.
For further information on maintaining your synthetic sports pitch, please see our guide, ‘How to Maintain a 3G Football or Rugby Pitch’.
If you are considering installing your own synthetic sports pitch for your team, club or organisation, then we can help.
We manufacture and supply synthetic turf for a wide variety of sports and can produce artificial turf to your exact specifications.
To find out more, click here, or call us today on 01245 931200.