Traditionally, sports such as soccer, rugby and frisbee have been played on natural grass surfaces. To facilitate which, many cities have established natural grass sports surfaces dedicated for these sports. However, the cost of invasion of weeds and overutilization of these pitches have led to high maintenance costs for the owner. As such, synthetic or otherwise known as artificial turfs have emerged as a viable alternative. While there are many misgivings about the performance of synthetic pitches, they do bring about their own share of benefits. In this article, we aim to compare the performance of synthetic and natural grass pitches so that you can make an informed decision.
Real grass pitches are to this day, still the dominant pitch type in the world. Most players strongly stand by the retained usage of real grass pitches due to the alleged superior performance characteristics such as ball roll, bounce and player movement. Additionally, given how used players are to real grass, it becomes difficult for them to retain the same performance levels when switching over to synthetic grass.
However, real grass pitches do require more frequent football pitch maintenance to avoid patches of mud, sand and holes. Regular soil tests, irrigation, mowing and pest management need to be conducted to keep the pitch in playing condition. Additionally, heavy rain may create mini ponds on the pitch, which in turn will affect the pace of play.
Synthetic grass pitches have been produced to mimic actual grass pitch performance, with soft non-abrasive fibers being incorporated to hold the soccer ball. Their biggest benefits comes in the ability to withstand many different weather conditions. For example, synthetic pitches work well in both dry and wet climates as they neither break up nor flood respectively. This allows the pitch to remain accessible at all times throughout the year.
Another benefit of synthetic grass pitches is that they are easier to maintain as opposed to real grass pitches. Each blade is more durable and thus require less frequent replacement. Additionally, no irrigation, soil tests, mowing or pest management is required as the entire pitch is artificial.
However, critics of synthetic grass pitches have long alleged that players are more prone to injuries on them. Experts are split on this issue but have reasoned that lower extremity injuries could be attributed to the increase in traction. Yet results have thus far being inconclusive as no statistical difference has emerged.
A con of synthetic pitches that has been established is that theydo trap more heat than natural grass surfaces.This makes it uncomfortable for players in the afternoon or users who enjoy being bare foot.
In this article we have briefly covered the differences between real grass and synthetic pitches. Each has their own pros and cons, and help to provide value in different areas.