Review of evidence: 3G artificial turf pitchesUndertaken by Evidence Based Insights Ltd as part of a research project for The Welsh Football Trust 2012 email@example.com
SummaryProducers and governing bodies need to better understand the interaction between playersand different natural grass and artificial turf systems. Problematically, research often focuseson mechanical tests that do not accurately reflect the interaction between players’ complexmovements and the playing surface1. Studies investigating effects on players have shown thatartificial turf can place more pressure on players’ feet2 and is associated with higher energyexpenditure when compared with grass,3 possibly due to pitches being faster. However, thereis little difference between artificial turf and natural grass in terms of running activities andtechnical standards.5Research does not support an association between artificial turf and increased risk of injuryalthough there are contrasting reports for risk of ankle sprain, back and spine, and shoulderand collarbone injuries.6,7,8,9,12 More research into the effects of artificial surfaces on muscleand knee injuries is needed because data concerning sport type, player, gender or matchversus training is, at present, inconsistent.10 It is also important to understand playerperceptions because although some players might prefer harder pitches or faster games4 it islikely that perceptions will be related to the physiological demands of artificial turf.8Standardization of artificial turf is recommended for new artificial turf grounds to ensureconsistent quality.11 For more details please refer to the slides that correspond with the numbers
Title Football specific evaluation of player–surface interaction on 1 different football turf systems Author(s) Potthast, W., Verhelst, R., Hughes, M., Stone, K. & De Clercq, D. Year 2010 Journal Sports Technology, 3:1, 5-12Although the interaction between players and different natural grass and artificial turf systemsis not well understood, the popularity of artificial turf means that producers and governingbodies are required to bring the experience as close as possible to natural grass. To do thisdevelopers focus on modifying fibres, infill and the elastic layer in order to optimize themechanical properties of the turf system. However, research shows that mechanical tests (i.e.without player involvement) of artificial turf systems like 3G do not reflect the interactionbetween players’ complex movements and the surface. Such is the nature of artificial turf thatchanges in a single component e.g. infill, will make the differences between artificial turfsgreater than those between natural grass and an artificial system. The authors recommendfurther research to improve current certification procedures and to optimize artificial turfsystems, particularly for football.
Title Comparison of in-shoe foot loading patterns on natural grass and 2 synthetic turf Author(s) Ford, K.R., Manson, N.A., Evans, et al. Year 2006 Journal Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 9(6);433-440The effects of rubber or sand infill synthetic playing surfaces on lower extremitybiomechanics are not well understood. The authors in this study examined effects of twosurfaces (natural grass versus turf) on in-shoe foot loading patterns during cutting in 17 maleplayers. An in-shoe pressure distribution measurement insole was used to measure peakpressure and relative load on the right foot. Results showed that the artificial turf conditionhad significantly higher peak pressures within the central forefoot compared to grass. Incontrast, the relative load within the medial forefoot and lateral midfoot were higher forgrass. The study demonstrates that playing surface significantly affects plantar loading duringsport related activities. The authors recommend further investigation to determine theeffects of playing surfaces on sport-specific injuries.
Title Comparison of Physiological Responses to an Incremental Running Test on3 Treadmill, Natural Grass, and Synthetic Turf in Young Soccer Players Author(s) Di Michele, R., Di Renzo, A.M, Ammazzalorso, S. & Merni, F. Year 2009 Journal Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 23(3);939-945The authors compared physiological responses to a multistage running test assessinglactate thresholds in 18 young football players (mean age 17.4 years) performed on atreadmill, natural grass and synthetic turf. Blood lactate concentration and heart rate wereassessed. Results showed that blood lactate was higher for synthetic turf than treadmilland natural grass whilst heart rate was higher for synthetic turf than grass. Thisdemonstrated that the running patterns on synthetic turf led overall to higher energyexpenditure when compared with grass.
Title Human perceptions of artificial surfaces for field hockey 4 Author(s) Fleming, P. R., Young, C., Roberts, J. R., Jones R. & Dixon, N. Year 2005 Journal Sports Engineering, 8(3);121-136The authors argue that measuring the performance of a sports surface is typically derivedfrom field and laboratory tests that ignore player’s perspective of their own comfort andconfidence in the surface and its playing characteristics. The authors conducted a qualitativeanalysis of 22 elite hockey players’ perceptions immediately after a competitive match inorder to develop a method for exploring player perceptions of field hockey pitches. Playersidentified the key themes of player performance, playing environment, pitch properties, ballinteraction and player interaction. Responses suggested that players largely considered a‘hard’ pitch with a ‘low’ ball bounce facilitating a ‘fast’ game speed as desirable and providesuseful evidence regarding the use of artificial surfaces for hockey.
Title: Elite football on artificial turf versus natural grass: Movement 5 patterns, technical standards, and player impressions Author(s) Anderssona, H., Ekblomb, B. & Krustrupc, P. Year 2008 Journal Journal of Sports Sciences, 26(2); 113-122The study examined the movement patterns, ball skills, and the opinions of elite footballplayers during competitive games on artificial turf and natural grass. No differences wereobserved between artificial turf and natural grass in terms of total distance covered, high-intensity running, number of sprints, standing tackles or headers per game. Overall, therewere fewer sliding tackles on artificial turf than natural grass and there were more shortpasses and midfield-to-midfield passes on artificial turf. Male players reported a negativeoverall impression and greater physical effort on artificial turf than natural grass. The authorsconclude that running activities and technical standards were similar on artificial turf andnatural grass although there were subtle changes in playing style which could have explainedmale players negative impression of artificial turf.
Title: Risk of injury in elite football played on artificial turf versus natural 6 grass: a prospective two-cohort study Author(s) Ekstrand, J., Timpka, T. & Hägglund, M. Year 2006 Journal British Journal of Sports Medicine, 40;975-980The authors compared injury risk in 290 male elite football players using artificial turf andnatural grass using. Compared with the control cohort who played home games on naturalgrass, teams in the artificial turf cohort had a lower injury incidence during match play. Theresults showed that the risk of ankle sprain was increased in matches on artificial turf (it isnoted that number of ankle sprains was low) compared with grass, although no differencein injury severity was seen between surfaces. Overall, no evidence of a greater risk of injurywas found when football was played on artificial turf compared with natural grass.
Title: Injury risk on artificial turf and grass in youth tournament football 7 Author(s) Soligard, T., Bahr, R. & Andersen, T.E. Year 2012 Journal Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 22(3);356-361This study investigated the risk of acute injuries among youth male and female footballersplaying on 3G artificial turf compared with grass. Over 60,000 players between 13–19 yearsold were followed in four consecutive Norway Cup tournaments between 2005 and 2008. Theresults showed that there was no difference in the overall risk of injury or in the risk of timeloss injury between 3G and grass. There was a lower risk of ankle injuries and a higher risk ofback and spine and shoulder and collarbone injuries on 3G compared with grass. Overall,there was no difference in the overall risk of acute injury in youth footballers playing on 3Gcompared with grass.
Title: Playing Field Issues in Sports Medicine8 Author(s) Wright, J.M. & Webner, D. Year 2010 Journal Current Sports Medicine Reports, 9(3);129-133Overall injury incidence does not apparently differ between artificial turf and grass surfacesbut patterns of injury do. This might be down to differences in shoe-surface interface, footloading patterns and the nature of foot impact. Player perceptions of artificial turf also varyand may be related to different physiological demands between the two surfaces. Theauthors conclude that a better understanding of the differences between artificial turf andnatural grass will help doctors, sports professionals and coaches better care for and traintheir athletes.
Title: Risk of injury on artificial turf and natural grass in young female9 football players Author(s) Steffen, K., Andersen, T.E. & Bahr, R. Year 2007 Journal British Journal of Sports Medicine, 41;i33-i37The aim of this study was to investigate the risk of injury on artificial turf compared withnatural grass among 2020 young (mean age = 15.4 years) female football players. Time-loss injuries and exposure data on different types of turf were recorded over an eight-month period. The incidence of acute injuries on artificial turf and grass did not differsignificantly in relation to match injuries or training injuries. In matches, the incidence ofserious injuries was significantly higher on artificial turf with ankle sprain being the mostcommon type of injury although overall, the actual risk of acute injuries was very similarbetween artificial turf and natural grass.
Title: A Review of Football Injuries on Third and Fourth Generation Artificial 10 Turfs Compared with Natural Turf Author(s) Williams, S., Hume, P.A. & Kara, S. Year 2011 Journal Sports Medicine, 41(11); 903-923This review compared the incidence, nature and mechanisms of injuries sustained on newergeneration artificial turfs and natural turfs. The authors found that studies provide strongevidence for comparable rates of injury between new generation artificial turfs and naturalturfs i.e. there is little to distinguish the two different surfaces. An exception is the increasedrisk of ankle injury on 3G and 4G turfs. Changing between surfaces may be a precursor forinjury in football. It is recommended that ankle injury prevention strategies are prioritised forthose who regularly use 3G and 4G. Further clarification of effects of artificial surfaces onmuscle and knee injuries is required because it is evident that data concerning sport type,player, gender or match versus training is inconsistent.
Title: Mechanical assessment of artificial turf football pitches: The 11 consequences of no quality certification Author(s) Burillo, P., Gallardo, L., Felipe, J.L. & Gallardo, A.M. Year 2012 Journal Scientific Research and Essays, 7(28);2457-2465The study assessed the quality of a sample of 20 3G turf pitches in Spain using EN 15330-1:2007and Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) rules. Results indicated thatnone of the pitches examined passed the 7 field tests of the certification protocols. Only 1 ofthe fields assessed passed 5 of the 7 tests in the EN protocol. Given that the type of fibre,type of rubber infill or elastic base have an influence on the mechanical properties of thepitch i.e. its quality and playing characteristics, the authors recommend that standardizationshould be compulsory in new artificial turf grounds, regardless of the sporting competitionthat is held.
Title: Comparison of injuries sustained on artificial turf and grass by male 12 and female elite football players Author(s) Ekstrand, J., Hägglund , M. & Fuller , C.W. Year 2011 Journal Scandanavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, 21(6); 824-832The authors compared incidences and patterns of injury for female and male elite teamswhen playing football on artificial turf and grass. 20 teams playing home matches on 3Gpitches were followed over time. Risk of injury risk from playing on 3G was compared withplaying on grass. Results showed there were no significant differences in the nature ofoveruse injuries recorded on artificial turf and grass for either men or women. Similarly, therate of acute injuries did not differ significantly between artificial turf and grass, for men orwomen. During matches, men were less likely to sustain a quadriceps strain and more likely tosustain an ankle sprain on artificial turf.