As more sports venues and facilities look at the adoption of artificial turf playing surfaces, the requirement for a shock pad layer underneath is also being more widely recognized.
The initial advantage of a synthetic surface allows venues to host more events and sports year-round, thanks to its harder wearing nature. However, beneath the surface the benefits run deeper as they are known to improve safety for players, reducing the likelihood of a concussion if they land on the surface head first.
Many international sports federations have included the improved norm for a Critical Fall Height in their most recent standards, in particular World Rugby, which works with scientists to improve the safety of rugby fields.
“It is almost impossible for a field to pass the test when it doesn’t have a shock pad underneath the carpet,” said Mark Harrington, head of technical services for World Rugby.
With the bar for safety being raised continuously, there are new changes in the evaluation process of synthetic fields.
“Things have now become more complicated as, apart from selecting the right turf and infill combination, shock pads have been added to the mix. Sports governing bodies and the various developers of synthetic turf systems extensively test these systems to establish how and if they meet the criteria,” said Leon Behr, regional sales manager for Schmitz Foam Products.
Artificial grass systems, including the shock pad, are subjected to rigorous testing before they are approved for use by international sports federations. The Lisport-XL is one of those tests. It replicates realistic wear simulation of sports fields over years of usage.
The science of synthetic turf now allows for systems with improved shock absorption (Increased Critical Fall Height, lower Gmax) while maintaining reduced movement under-foot during play (reduced Vertical Deformation).
Schmitz Foam Products’ ProPlay shock pad has been used in sports fields around the world and is able to absorb the impact when players fall, as well as managing the energy a player requires when running across it.
“They provide a solid foundation and a solid feel underfoot, making it very comfortable for athletes to play on a surface with a high-quality shock pad,” explains Behr.
Facility owners are also able to benefit from a ProPlay shock pad as its longevity has seen it been reused over several turf replacements, with the company confident in it holding up and offering improved player safety over a 25-year period.