Below are the answers to some of the more common questions that the FIH receives about pitches and equipment.
The FIH Guide to Installing Hockey Pitches and Facilities is a good place to answer most questions in this area.
The FIH has no authority to demand compliance with the recommendations set out in its publications except for FIH sanctioned events when the standards are a condition of the contract between FIH and the Organising Committee. However, the standards have been tested over many years and contribute significantly to consistency of play, player safety, comfortable spectator viewing levels and general enjoyment of the game.The FIH strongly recommends that the recommendations outlined in the various FIH publications be followed.
The FIH has two categories: Global and National. These requirements demonstrate varying degrees of playing characteristics, safety and performance related to each category. Global Category pitches are mandatory for all FIH world-level competitions and qualifying tournaments, including certain continental federation events. National Category pitches are satisfactory for international matches and/or tournaments.
The dimensions of the pitch must be in accordance with the latest FIH Rules of Hockey. For overruns, the requirement specifies 2m at the sidelines (of which 1m will match the pitch material) and 3m at the backlines (of which 2m will match the pitch material). These are minimum requirements.The total carpet surface will thus be at least 5,942 square metres. This is normally rounded to a 6000 square metre surface.
The pitch should be constructed on a north south axis. The recommended tolerance by FIH is for the long axis to be within an angle of + or - 15 degrees (east or west) of north.
Pitches generally consist of a synthetic fibre carpet as the playing surface, laid over or bonded to a shock pad or elastic layer (e-layer) to absorb dynamic forces, and which in turn is laid on the binding or sealing layer of an engineered sub-base. The binding or sealing layer may be pervious or impervious dependent on the hydraulics design. Filled pitches and dressed pitches need to have sand or other materials added to stabilise the verticality of the pile, while unfilled pitches must have associated pitch irrigation and a pitch drainage system.
Pitches need not be sloped although it is recommended that a slight fall is incorporated for drainage. Slope designs are usually domed or ridged with slopes from a centre point or ridge or from 'turtle back' profiles. The most common configuration is the envelope pattern with slopes in four directions normally between 0.4% and 1.0% for national category pitches.
Ponding is a factor of pitch gradient, plane tolerances and porosity. However, if the porosity factors are correct the water should quickly drain and delays to play can be kept to a minimum.
The manufacturer use a range of plastic materials to weave the carpets made of yarn of polypropylene or polyethylene or nylon or a combination of these and other synthetic materials. The majority of pitches are made from either polypropylene, polyethylene, or nylon.
The most ultra violet resistant material used in pitches is polypropylene followed by polyethylene and then nylon.
Pile height is the height (length) of carpet yarn above the backing. An unfilled (wet) pitch will have 12mm approximately pile height. A long pile pitch may be up to 70mm pile height (length). Density is measured by the number of tufts per metre in both weft and warp directions. Weight measures the amount of pile weight per square metre but can be very confusing, e.g. a long pile height of 70mm can be one sixth the density of an unfilled pitch but both products will have the same weight. Denier is the measurement of the gauge or thickness or firmness of the yarn.
A sand-filled pitch has a higher (longer) but less dense pile than an unfilled pitch. Sand or similar material is used for 100% of pile depth to maintain pile verticality. A sand dressed pitch has a slightly higher pile than an unfilled pitch but not as high as a filled pitch and is only partly filled with sand.
The carpet for these turfs is not as dense as an unfilled, filled or dressed hockey turf. The diameter of a hockey ball is much smaller than a soccer ball so there is much more frictional drag on a hockey ball which restricts its movement. The same principle also applies to the hockey stick and therefore makes deft stick-work difficult.
A sand-filled pitch rarely justifies the installation of watering systems. However, in hotter climates, watering will improve playing characteristics.
Sand-dressed pitches may justify the installation of a pitch irrigation system as the pile projects completely above the sand or granulated fill. Because a dressed pitch has the appearance of an unfilled pitch, player expectation is that the pitch should be watered. .
It is not recommended for three reasons: first, injury potential. Second, because damage done to the surface will shorten the playing life of the pitch carpet. Third, such actions over a prolonged period will probably void your warranty.
The filling material is removed, cleaned and replaced. If top up material is required, it must match the specification of the original material. It is essential that all intending proprietors of synthetic hockey pitches include the costs of maintenance in their Business Plan so that the periodic maintenance costs are adequately covered when required.
Any foreign material should be removed from the pitch as soon as possible. Synthetic turf pitches should be brushed/swept at least weekly.