Q: How is a hockey pitch constructed?
A: Hockey pitches generally consist of a synthetic fibre carpet as the playing surface, laid over or bonded to a shock pad or elastic layer (e-layer) to absorb dynamic forces, and which in turn is laid on the binding or sealing layer of an engineered sub-base. The binding or sealing layer may be pervious or impervious dependent on the hydraulics design.
Filled pitches and dressed pitches need to have sand or other materials added to the required depth to stabilise the verticality of the pile.
Unfilled pitches must have associated pitch irrigation and a pitch drainage system to become playable.
Q: I have noticed that hockey pitches are sloped. What is the angle of the slope?
A: Pitches need not be sloped although it is recommended that a slight fall is incorporated for drainage particularly if high rainfall is anticipated. Slope designs can be full width lateral, full length longitudinal or full diagonal, but are usually domed or ridged with slopes from a centre point or ridge or from 'turtle back' profiles.
The most commonly accepted configuration is the envelope pattern, or turtle back envelope with slopes in four directions normally between 0.4% and 1.0%. For a turtle back design the first one third, approximately, of the distance from the ridge to the sideline is at a lesser gradient than the remainder.
The gradients must be very exact or ponding occurs.
For further information, refer to the FIH Handbook of Performance Requirements for Synthetic Turf Hockey Pitches which is available in the Pitches and Equipment section of this website.
Q: I notice that puddles sometimes form on hockey pitches during rain. Although the rain is not very heavy the game has to be stopped because the ball stops in the puddles. Can this be avoided?
A: Ponding is a factor of pitch gradient, plane tolerances and porosity. The lower the gradient the more difficult is a co-planar construction which will adequately drain. Tolerances which may be applicable and workable at a 1.0% gradient will possibly allow ponding at 0.4% gradient.
However, if the porosity factors are correct the water should quickly drain and delays to play can be kept to a minimum.