We were recently asked to justify why we recommend shock pads in 3G pitch systems. We have been an advocate of their use for many years now even although a 3G turf will have sand and rubber infill which in theory will provide safety and performance to the playing surface. A shock pad will add if you will an 'insurance policy' for the Client perhaps this is why an educated Client may choose to go with one in their pitch.
Long-term performance Here research has shown that as a playing surface ages the performance of a 3G pitch deteriorates and can infact fall below the original specification requirements (FIFA, EN or IRB) within the first third of the life of the pitch. Here it has proven difficult to recover the pitch back to a position of compliance even with intensive maintenance.
A shock pad will protect the performance of the playing surface in the long-term where tests have shown that the playing surface even when worn will retain the principal performance parameters long into the last phase of the life of the artificial turf.
Compliance A shock pad is required to meet certain Global standards such as that issued by IRB. Many football turf fields are using shorter pile height artificial turf; where pile height falls below 50mm a shock pad is essential to meet FIFA requirements.
Multi sport Funding is very focused on providing multi sport facilities. The concept of funding a one sport field is no longer acceptable for publicly funded projects. Here the 'One Turf' concept is a finding a great deal of support in Sports Funding Bodies and Municipalities. Here football, rugby, lacrosse, games all are supported on an playing surface. In this case a shock pad would be required.
Maintenance Whilst the profile of maintenance has never been higher a large number of facilities within communities do not receive maintenance. A shock pad offers an opportunity to build in protection in terms of safety and performance.
Other areas have been promoted such as a shock pad reduces maintenance by virtue of keeping the fill mobile, reduces refurbishment costs and regulates the energy restitution of the playing surface.
There are sound reasons why a shock pad should be incorporated into a artificial pitch where budgets allow however in community based facilities safety in the long term will be a significant factor.