Do the playing surfaces that we train on week in, week out allow athletes to perform at their best, or do they hold us back from reaching our true athletic potential? There’s no doubt that this is a controversial question, but it is one that players, coaches, and sports lovers everywhere are interested in. If one surface was scientifically proven to be the best, everyone would abandon the alternative and install what is the undeniable best. Unfortunately, this may never be the case. The ongoing debate between artificial grass and natural grass is talked about around the world, with the differences in maintenance, costs, and safety widely discussed. However, the performance aspect of it is rarely questioned.
Some players will always prefer to play on a natural grass pitch over an astro turf surface. Some athletes have even described 3G artificial grass pitches as being hard on player’s legs or they could be tired after playing on a 3G pitch with shock pad. In a recent study PST Sport engaged Kieran Donaghy over several weeks to carry out practical tests on combinations of our carpet and different shock pads laid out in a warehouse with the view to establishing the best combination for Energy Restitution. Kieran then compared how he felt afterwards versus running on concrete, a soft GAA pitch, sand and basketball hard wood floors. Kieran’s findings combined with laboratory reports lead to the shock pad / carpet combination PST Sport now install across Ireland and the UK. We use a high density 10mm pad made from virgin foam thereby guaranteeing uniformity.
Train for longer, year round
Artificial grass increases the number of times you can train, due to its long lasting and weather resistant nature, which suggests that a player is able to practice his/her skills comfortably, alleviating any worry about the condition of the pitch. If a player passes, bounces or rolls a ball on a well-maintained natural grass pitch, they would find no drastic difference had they done the same movements on an artificial grass pitch. However, a poorly kept natural grass pitch is definitely different from an artificial grass pitch and hinders athletic performance. Athletes can judge the bounce and movement patterns of the ball with ease on an artificial pitch. Bumps, mud, and water patches on a grass pitch negatively impact a player’s ability to judge the ball. These types of grass pitches will only hurt a player’s athletic progression, therefore, an artificial grass pitch is the right solution.
At the end of the day, artificial grass doesn’t hurt the game and it certainly doesn’t make the players worse. It can be very hard to maintain a natural grass pitch to the high standards we see on the television these days, therefore an astroturf pitch is a great option. Artificial grass is not a substitute for natural grass, it’s just the best alternative. Sports clubs, schools, and local authorities should consider an installing an artificial grass pitch.