If you go to a football academy in London these days, chances are that you’ll be training on a 3G football pitch… one of the newest developments in synthetic surface technology for sports at both competitive and recreational levels.
But what exactly is it? Quite simply, the artificial grass in 3G turf is given an extra bit of support thanks to a base layer of sand and an infill of rubber crumb. This means that the pile height can reach up to 65mm, depending on the type of sport that’s likely to be played on the pitch.
For your club, this kind of artificial turf is particularly useful because sports surfaces take such a battering when used day in, day out.
Natural grass would wear away very quickly indeed if it was used and when it comes to football, no other manmade surfaces exist that would recreate the kind of conditions of playing on grass, taking into account ball bounce and roll, durability and non-abrasiveness… so even though you aren’t training on grass, when it comes time to play on it you’ll find it not dissimilar to your 3G turf training sessions.
Also don’t forget that because this turf is artificial, it’s the perfect all-weather pitch. One of the biggest advantages of 3G surfaces is that they’re free draining, so you’ll never have to cancel a match or training session because of a waterlogged pitch. Rainfall simply drains away through the perforated backing and the surface is left entirely free from puddles and standing water.
Winter games are also more likely to take place because while turf pitches can freeze up and harden extremely quickly (increasing the risk of injury if you fall while playing), artificial pitches can be a lot gentler on joints and muscles.
You’re also less likely to sustain an injury while playing or training on this kind of surface, because the foam underlays included will help absorb the impact of slips, trips and falls – so your joints won’t suffer quite so much. We all know just how serious an injury can be on a player and it could mean the end of your career if you’re not careful – so training on the right kind of surface is a must.
From your club’s perspective, artificial 3G turf will mean that playing time can be maximised and if there are any fixture backlogs for whatever reason these can be cleared with relative ease. Maintenance is also a lot easier than with real grass, so community clubs are simpler and cheaper to run.
The Football Association has this to say on the matter of 3G pitches: “Third generation or 3G artificial grass pitches are recognised as durable, safe, year-round playing surfaces, able to withstand intensive use and all kinds of weather. They mean more people can benefit from all the associated social and health benefits of physical activity.”
Apparently, the Sport and Play Contractors Association – trade body for the sports pitch industry – is now devising a voluntary industry standard to implement restrictions for the rubber crumb under European regulation after concerns were raised about its use and human health.