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Injuries on football fields can be grouped into different categories as related to the type of athlete movement and to the relative resiliency—softness of the surface. Many injuries are related to varying degrees of surface hardness. Turfgrasses offer the least hard surface in comparison to other alternatives available for sports activities. This is due to the biomass of the turf plus the associated root zone that provides a unique resilient characteristic or cushion.
Sports participant safety on turfgrasses is maximized by a dense biomass of turfgrass leaves and stems. It is important to select turfgrass species, cultivars, and cultural practices that have the capability of sustaining the highest possible biomass. Considerations in this regard include adaptation, wear tolerance, pest resistance, environmental stress tolerance, and the ability to recover from injury during the time of year when intense use occurs. Proper turf mowing, fertilization, irrigation, and cultivation practices also aid in maximizing the biomass cushion.
The second major dimension is the associated turfgrass root zone. High-sand/soil root zones of the proper particle size distribution are less prone to compaction and resultant hardness, plus the internal environment is more favorable for turfgrass root growth. The high-sand/soil root zones for sports use tend to be somewhat loose and thus benefit from stabilization, such as by the three dimensional, randomly oriented, interlocking 50 by 100 mm mesh elements. This mesh matrice also possesses a flexing action under traffic pressure that results in a self cultivation effect that further improves the environment for root growth by enhanced drainage and aeration.
football fields, turf, surface hardness, resiliency-softness, injuries, root zone, maintenance
associate agronomist, International Sports Turf Institute, Bryan, TX
President, International Sports Turf Institute, College Station, TX