Development of Dry (non-irrigated) Hockey Turfs
Since hockey first embraced synthetic turf surfaces in the late 1970s, players have preferred to play on them when they are wet. Experience shows that water provides fast, predictable, and consistent playing conditions that allows players to perform to the best of their ability. Watering a hockey field does, however, come at a cost, both financially and environmentally, and it is increasingly being recognised that this is no longer a sustainable policy for hockey. Therefore, the FIH has challenged the synthetic turf industry to develop hockey turfs that retain the desired characteristics, but without using water.
A key part of ensuring these new types of dry hockey turfs have the playing characteristics hockey desires is being able to measure and quantify their performance. The FIH Hockey Turf and Field Standards are the internationally recognised quality standards for hockey fields. Part 1 describe the sports performance, player welfare, surface durability and environmental characteristics required from FIH Approved hockey turfs. The standard has five categories of turf with the Global category being the one intended for top-level competitions. Currently, the Global category requires turfs to be watered prior to use, as this ensures they have the qualities the players’ desire. Removing the requirement to water means this certainty will no longer exist, so new requirements are needed to ensure the turfs still provide acceptable levels of performance. Following a programme of research, the FIH has established an Innovation Category of Hockey Turf that is designed to ensure that dry turfs:
- Replicate, as far as possible, the playing qualities of wet hockey turfs
- Provide satisfactory levels of foot grip
- Provide acceptable levels of player comfort
- Have acceptable durability
Ideally, dry turfs will have similar playing characteristics to wet hockey turfs, but this may not be possible in all aspects so, the FIH Innovation Category is sub-divided into a target range, based on the performance of wet hockey turfs, and a wider range intended to ensure that the surfaces have performance that is better than that provided by national category hockey turfs.
As fields are surfaced with dry hockey turfs, the FIH, in conjunction with our National Hockey Associations will seek player feedback. This will help establish how good the performance of dry turfs are, and where the limits of acceptable performance can be set. With this information, we will be able to amend our Hockey Turf and Field Standards to include the new performance properties and to remove the requirement for global category turfs to be watered prior to use. It is currently envisaged that this will be done no later than Q3/Q4 2024.
To download the criteria for Innovation Category of Hockey Turfs click here.
To download the latest FIH Dry Turf project update report click here
To download the background research report that allowed us to create the Innovation Category of Hockey Turfs click here.