Words of wisdom for those considering second hand synthetic pitches

Countries, clubs or schools considering purchasing second hand synthetic pitches cheaply or even taking one over for free are inclined to think they are getting a good deal. But to be sure they are, a number of considerations should first be taken into account. This information, prepared by the FIH Development & Coaching and Equipment Committees, should prove helpful in deciding whether a second-hand pitch is the way to go.

Sand-filled pitches

Transport - Before being transported, the bulk of the sand must be removed from the carpet. In addition, the seams have to be cut, which will reduce its dimensional stability. Even without the weight of the sand, the weight and size of the carpet itself is considerable and may result in considerable transportation costs, depending on the method of transport and the distance. Finally, the original or additional sand has to be used for refill.

Carpet - The areas between the back lines and the 25-yard lines will especially show signs of wear and tear after several years of use, and the fibres are more or less worn our and mostly flattened. Also, the seams could be loosened or algae formation may have aged the pitch. In most cases, only the area between the two 25-yard lines is suitable for further use. Finally, the seams will have to be sewn again, which may lead to a shortening of the pitch.

Removal and re-installation is also rather expensive.

A full specification of functional requirements and construction recommendations are available through the FIH.

Sub base - As with new synthetic pitches, a constructed sub base is needed. Such a sub base could consist of 30 cm sand, 15 cm lava (12 cm coarse stone, 3 cm fine 0.3mm stone) and a shock absorption layer (note: often this layer is a substratum part of the carpet).

Unfilled Pitches

Transport - While there is no sand to be removed, the carpet is still a considerable sized parcel. See advice regarding transport costs for sand-filled pitches.

Carpet - There are some disadvantages to go along with using second hand unfilled pitches, including:

  • After 10 years of use, porosity has been drastically decreased.
  • The pitch needs constantly to be wet in order to play on it. The costs of a watering installation are approximately $20,000 US. In addition, clean, purified water is needed, the costs of which must also be taken into account.
  • Irregular watering may increase the chance of injury to players.

There is, however, the option of using a second hand water-based pitch as an indoor surface. The indoor climate will stimulate condensation, making the need for watering superfluous. With respect to the sub base, if the shock-absorbing layer of the carpet is in good condition, the carpet can be laid directly onto a flat concrete floor.


It would seem, in conclusion, that the cost-benefit relationship of purchasing or taking over a second-hand pitch is very limited when compared to the costs of installing a new surface. Many elements (sub base, transportation, sand-fill or watering system installation) remain the same. Additional costs for repair to the carpet must be faced, and the saving is only ultimately realised in the price of the carpet and the shock pad, if not integrated into the carpet.

The FIH considers only a few situations as appropriate for taking over a second-hand pitch. They are:

  • If in a few years you will be the owner of a new synthetic surface. Since the sub base has to be constructed anyway and will last about 20 years, you could consider having a second-hand carpet for the first few years.
  • If you wish only to use the suitable parts as a training field.

In any case, expert advice from professional consultants or manufacturers should be sought before a decision is taken.

The FIH has established new and less costly requirements for "starter pitches", and these requirements can be found in the FIH Handbook of Performance Requirements. There is evidence that international, national and local subsidies can be secured to assist in the financing of the installation of such pitches. In addition to the Handbook, a set of recommendations for sub bases for various carpets will soon be available.

In spite of a successful installation, the second hand pitch will not meet the FIH Requirements for "Starter" Pitches. The shock absorption will be too low, and in the event the carpet is installed on an unbound base (to keep costs low), the pitch smoothness will also not meet the requirements.

This note is made to assist National Associations in their decision making process regarding the planning and installation of synthetic pitches. The FIH makes no representation, warranty or guarantee as to the results to be expected from the installation of a second-hand synthetic surface.

For additional or more specific advice on the matter, please contact the FIH.