A Look at the Advantages and Disadvantages to Using Artificial Turf in Sports

Some outdoor sports (e.g. baseball, football, soccer, rugby) have chosen to use artificial turf instead of “real” grass. This is a synthetic alternative that has either a rubber, foam, or polyester backing. The individual blades of grass are made of either a nylon or polypropylene blend. Today, it’s even possible to manufacture it from recycled materials, which is a great way to offset environmental impact. Now that you know what artificial turf is, you should also learn more about its use before playing on it.

Environmental Impact

Indoor sports stadiums are great for anyone living in an unforgiving or unpredictable climate. Unfortunately, traditional grass doesn’t grow here easily. This is when it’s great to have a synthetic alternative that doesn’t need sun or water.

Cost and Maintenance

Installing artificial turf costs less money than installing natural grass, especially if grass was already present. While grass costs around $3 per square foot, artificial turf costs around $5. Of course, over the long term, maintaining grass will cost more money because you must water, fertilize, mow, seed, and provide pest control for it. This doesn’t mean you won’t have any maintenance though because you must brush, water, and control pests nonetheless.

Another consideration is with field lines. These are typically sewn directly into artificial grass and can’t be changed. However, with real grass you simply repaint them to accommodate different sports, which is one way in which it’s more cost effective.

Impact on Game Play

With artificial fields it’s easier to be consistent in groundskeeping because every fiber is an exact replica of every other fiber. Therefore, there’s no unevenness or different textures that alter a ball’s speed or a player’s ability. Unfortunately, this isn’t true when you’re dealing with natural grass because it creates more friction which will accelerate an object’s speed of movement. This means that it’s more difficult for baseball players to catch ground-based plays on artificial grass. With artificial grass players can also achieve a more secure footing because of the way the grass is woven into its secure backing. This allows them to turn and stop better. These are just some of the many reasons why about 73% of NFL players prefer to play on artificial grass instead of the real thing.

Injury Potential

The newer types of synthetic grass use polyethylene fibers. As such, they produce a lot less friction when they make contact with a player’s skin. This is why they lead to fewer abrasions and injuries. However, it’s important for grounds crews to always remember that artificial grass has a tendency of retaining more heat than natural grass does. Therefore, artificial grass must have a small amount of water applied to them before a game starts so players don’t accidentally get burned.

Now that you know more about artificial turf you may wish to consider installing it in your field to play on. For this you’ll want to contact the professionals at Turf Pro Synthetics. This is something they’ve managed for many field owners over the years with great success. Your field should be next.

Picture Credit: Apafios