The Evolution Of Sports Playing Fields

A playing field, especially one for a game such as football which requires little or no equipment other than a ball and some way of marking goalposts, can be almost anywhere. From an open green space to a street corner, a well maintained sports club to a ‘jumpers for goalposts’ urban area, most children know that the sport can be played in some fashion wherever they are.


When it comes to the professionals, pitches have evolved throughout the history of the beautiful game, changing time and time again as new and innovative surfaces have been introduced.

For many decades, the one and only acceptable playing surface was grass. Tough enough to allow aggressive play, yet soft enough to cushion falls, grass was for a long time the only viable option. Yet it also had its downsides; in wet weather, playing surfaces often became unplayable, leading to fixture cancellations. The slipperiness of the surface when damp coupled with the way grass and mud get churned up during play created a need in the sport for an all-weather playing surface.

Astro Turf

First introduced to sport in the 1960’s, beginning in the US and within baseball and American football – it was first introduced in the UK to football in the early 1980’s, and for a short while seemed to be the answer to the problem. The artificial surface required little to no maintenance, and was playable year round no matter what the weather.


However, it had problems of its own which were swiftly identified. The early synthetic surface, commonly referred to as ‘plastic grass’, was soon seen as a bit of a joke. Balls bounced erratically, the surface still became slippery when wet, and worst of all players suffered greater injuries when falling onto the Velcro-like substance. Carpet burns were frequent, and the lack of give caused falls to engender serious injuries. In 1988, astro turf was banned by Fifa for use at a professional level, and clubs went back to grass.

3G Pitches

Towards the end of the twentieth century though, a new revolution in synthetic fibre technology led to many stadiums re-introducing synthetic surfaces, with what is known as third generation, or 3G, pitches. The fake grass fibres were coated with silicone, in-filled at the base with sand and interspersed with rubber granules. This imitation grass looked and felt just like the real thing, and created a true all-weather pitch that eradicated all the previous downsides.

Famous Stadiums

The engineered surfaces are laid over stone, with a tarmac base and shock absorber underneath the fibres. Other advancements led to real grass being injected with synthetic fibres, creating a compromise between the natural and artificial that took the best of both worlds and lost the worst. Wembley, the Emirates stadium and Anfield all now have these 3G pitches, and play has never been better.

This post was written on behalf of who can provide the latest in astro turf design.

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