The science of sports surface interactions for synthetic turf surfaces
The introduction and acceptance of new (3rd) generation long pile filled synthetic turf surfaces in sports such and football and rugby has led to these surfaces becoming widely used at all levels of the game. The interaction of a sports person and/or ball with these surfaces is of great importance in terms of player safety, comfort and playing performance. The specification for these surfaces, and the constituent materials used, are known to vary within the industry. Recent field measurements of unfilled ‘water based’ pitches highlighted significant spatial and temporal changes in the playing characteristics both over the surface of a single pitch and between (similar) pitches, including the test results for traction. It has been suggested that synthetic turf surfaces increase the traction produced at the shoe-surface interface causing a greater number of sports specific injuries. However, as part of a PhD research programme at Loughborough University, a comprehensive review of published literature was performed which highlighted a significant lack of quantified research and data regarding the surface properties influencing the traction developed at the shoe-surface interface. There has been no attempt to date to measure and quantify the role of the individual components of a surface on the traction that can be achieved. If the underlying material science of the surface components were better understood, decisions and judgements based on the desired characteristics required for surfaces could be optimised. This paper reviews the available information regarding 3rd generation synthetic turf surfaces and establishes the primary parameters influencing traction during the interaction between a player and the surface, with a focus on the mechanics of the surface components and their interaction, and the influence of potential changes during the pitch lifetime, such as degradation. The proposed research and methods required to address these knowledge gaps is presented.
- Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering