Playing surface care key to athletic sporting success

Many sports faculties are still failing to recognise the importance of surface maintenance regarding athletic achievement.

Paul Eyers
By Paul Eyers
5 Min Read

It’s no secret that having the correct sports surface in place can make a massive difference to athletic performance.

However, many sports faculties still fail to recognise the importance of surface maintenance regarding athletic achievement, health and safety, as well as the financial benefits.

Regular maintenance of sports surfaces ensures their durability and significantly enhances play by providing consistency in ball trajectory, equipment usage and participant response.

A professional maintenance plan can help identify and address minor issues before they escalate, considerably prolonging the surface’s lifespan.

However, preserving exceptional sports surface conditions involves meticulous attention to detail and a proactive maintenance approach that differs depending on surface type:

Grass fields

Grass sporting fields require year-round weekly care, with more complex treatments required annually.

At the end of the sporting calendar is the ideal time to prepare natural grass surfaces for next season.

Turf remediation should begin when optimal growth conditions commence, and usage reduces.

Natural field maintenance requirements are extensive, but aeration, fertilising and irrigation are essential and should be scheduled consistently to ensure the playing surface is kept in good condition.

Queensland-based landscaper Zane Pearse told Build-it that maintaining a quality grass sports facility required year-round specialised care best left to those in the know.

“It’s not just a case of giving it a quick mow and waiting for the rain,” he said.

“Grass sports fields require constant upkeep to achieve optimal results, and the detail-specific treatments are often best left to a landscaping professional.”

“Properly maintaining your sports field will help it withstand more use and provide a safer play environment for users.”

Mr Pearse said the best grass field maintenance program was area and time-specific but typically includes mowing, soil testing, fertilisation, irrigating, aeration, top dressing, overseeding, wetting agents, scarifying and punctual field closures.

Artificial turf

The durability and longevity of artificial turf mean it doesn’t require the same year-round treatments and recurring expenses required by natural grass fields.

However, it still benefits from a watchful eye and routine care to ensure peak athletic performance and maintain its decades-long life expectancy.

Synthetic grass requires infill levels to remain consistent across the surface, as fluctuations can cause injury.

Motorised machinery can be used for cleaning surface fibres to remove dirt and debris embedded in the turf, whilst specialised chemicals are simultaneously dispersed to protect the infill and keep the surface free of mould and bacteria.

It’s vital to ensure the surface is fit for use following extreme weather events, as playing on a damaged surface could impact its integrity and safety.

Hard courts

These surfaces should be cleaned regularly to prevent the accumulation of mould, mildew, and dirt, which can become a health and safety hazard by making them slippery and unsafe.

A clean surface can also help players improve their game by providing “response consistency” in balls and equipment, while allowing high standards for rules as lines and markings remain visible.

Sports surface experts recommend hosing outdoor courts weekly – using a pressure washer and water broom to remove stains.

Intense stains can be tackled using organic cleaners, but the court must be hosed down again to remove any surface damaging residue.

Leaf stains and mould can be harder to remove, and diluted pool chlorine can be left on the stain for 15 minutes before washing away.

Finally, animal stains from bird and bat droppings must be removed quickly with excrement, causing severe damage to outdoor court surfaces if left untreated.

Build-up could require a specialised company to repatch the court. Pressure washers with organic cleaners work well, but sometimes manual scraping is needed to ensure the removal.

A fresh coat of paint every few years can preserve the surface’s appearance and provide protection against outside elements.

Expert surface installers should always provide maintenance manuals with some providing surface maintenance services.

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Paul Eyers has worked as a journalist for a range of media publishers including News Corp and Network Ten. He has also worked outside of Australia, including time spent with ABS-CBN in the Philippines. Stepping away from the media, Paul spent five years sharpening his tools in construction - building his skill set and expertise within the trade industry. His diverse experiences and unique journey have equipped him with an insider view of Australia’s construction game to dig deep into the big stories.