The importance of 3G pitch maintenance

Find out how keeping your pitch maintained can save you money and protect your players from injury.

3G pitches are a great alternative to natural grass.  They will enable you to play all year round and stop you having to cancel matches.  3G pitch maintenance is also a lot less time-consuming and costly compared to maintaining a natural grass pitch.

The artificial pitches are a significant cost so the maintenance is essential to protect the pitch and make sure it lasts as long as possible.

Arguably the most important factor in 3G pitch maintenance, is to keep the turf upright. Doing this helps support the elements of natural play such as traction, ball movement, and it also prevents player injury. There are a number of things you can do to help achieve this, including:

Wearing the right footwear

Boots are a big factor when it comes to 3G pitch maintenance. Flat soled boots/shoes are typically a no-go. They increase the rate of infill compaction and flatten the pile of the carpet. 3G pitches are rigorously tested and manufactured to withstand extensive play and last as long as possible, if the correct footwear is used. We advise using only moulded or screw-in stud football boots.

Regular brushing

Relying on a twice-yearly 3G pitch maintenance service isn’t enough. Regular brushing will keep the synthetic fibres upright and protect the infill and stop it from compacting. We suggest brushing the pitch weekly. This can be done using a compact tractor with a triangle drag brush.

Infill top ups

Those small black rubber pieces spread throughout the pitch are there for many reasons, including supporting the fibres and keeping them upright. Overtime amounts of infill will end up leaving the pitch and will need replacing. If you keep an eye on the amounts of infill when you’re brushing the pitch and top it up when you see necessary.

Winter weather maintenance

Snow and ice are the only instances that could potentially stop you from using the pitch. Heavy snowfall can freeze the fibres and make them brittle, which would increase the chance of damage to the pitch and increase the risk of injuries for players. If there has been heavy snowfall you will need to wait for it to thaw out and allow the water to drain away. As with many things however, prevention is better than a cure – laying vacuum dried salts on the turf before snow or ice is predicted can help prevent freezing from happening at all.

The cost of 3G pitch maintenance

A 3G pitch should cost an average of £5,530 a year to maintain. Compared with the yearly £48,000 needed for a quality natural grass pitch, 3G pitches come out on top, again!

Get in touch today if you need support with 3G pitch maintenance.

3G pitch maintenance

3G sports pitch testing – FIFA guidelines

Guidelines and testing for third generation sports pitches

Third generation (3G) pitches are artificial sports pitches designed to mimic the look, characteristics and performance of real grass. 3G pitches are filled with both sand and rubber to keep the synthetic grass dense and upright.

FIFA’s guidelines are in place to ensure that all 3G pitches are designed, manufactured and installed with player safety at the forefront. The all-weather pitches allow players to play football in its traditional manner, all year round. Pitches are durable and resilient with a lifespan of around 10 years.

3G pitch testing

At McArdle Sport-tec, we work closely with our clients to make sure we stay focused on their needs and comply with FIFA’s 3G pitch guidelines. We work in partnership with Tiger Turf UK who comply with FIFA’s rigorous testing methods.

Sports pitches can be expected to withstand 40+ hours of play a week. 3G pitches must pass tests on a whole range of factors, including shock absorption and rotation resistance to prevent player injuries. There are 600 data points tested to determine the turf’s performance.

Take a look at the testing methods used.

3G pitch maintenance

3G pitches require a moderate level of care and maintenance in order to last the expected lifespan. There are a number of rules that should be put in place to safeguard the pitch’s quality, including what footwear should be used on the surface. Regular cleaning and attention should take place to ensure the synthetic grass is kept in good condition.

Having a well maintained 3G pitch will not only make it last longer and help prevent injuries. The pitches are designed to replicate every aspect of real grass, including ball/surface interaction. Making sure the synthetic fibres are kept in good condition will help make sure of this.

Sports pitches from McArdle

As specialists in sports pitch construction we ensure that all of our pitches are installed to comply with FIFA’s guidelines. We’ll carefully consider the best possible location on your site to minimise maintenance and prolong the lifespan of your pitch.

Find out more about our construction process.

all weather 3G sports pitch

Hockey Pitch Construction

Where to Begin

This guide has been designed to assist with answering initial questions we are often asked by clients when they first embark on their hockey pitch construction journey. 

-How much does artificial hockey pitch construction cost?
The cost of building a pitch can vary immensely. Do you require a simple resurfacing of an existing pitch with a new sand-dressed artificial turf, or brand new pitch to be constructed with drainage, sports fencing and a new floodlighting system?

Initially, the existing ground conditions will need to be assessed. If the soil is contaminated, this will need to be removed from site and replaced. The more material that needs to be removed and replaced with suitable base material, the more the overall project will cost. A basic sand-dressed pitch resurface with no lighting or fencing can start at around £150,000, and can be in excess of £1 million for a brand new International standard, water-based pitch with new fencing, team dug outs, LED floodlighting and state-of-the-art irrigation systems.

-What are the first steps in artificial hockey pitch construction?
One you have secured land for the build, you will need to speak with an artificial pitch contractor, or a consultant. They should be able to assist with planning considerations and applications, design options, ground surveys, product specifications and pricing. Should you require funding, England Hockey is a good place to start.

-What type of surface does my club need?
Most international tournaments are played on FIH Global standard water-based surfaces and league games are usually played on FIH National standard sand-dressed pitches. If your club doesn’t host international fixtures then a sand-dressed surface will more than likely be sufficient. Water-based and sand-dressed surfaces are becoming available in a range of colours. Types of hockey surface available.

Do I need to have a shock pad under the artificial turf surface?
Although the FIH doesn’t specifically state that a shock pad is required, the testing criteria make it necessary to pass either ‘Global’ or ‘National’ criteria.
The addition of a shock pad in hockey pitch construction will aid player comfort, as the impact on the knees and back is significantly reduced when a shock pad is present. The most commonly used types shock pad systems are; pre-formed roll out pads, and ‘in-situ’ shock pad. An in-situ pad is a combination of SBR rubber and PU Polyurethane binder which is mixed on-site and laid upon the tarmac pitch base.

-How long should an artificial hockey surface last?
Manufacturers will offer a guarantee for each product in their range, to give an example, TigerTurf UK Ltd’s most popular hockey surface Evo Pro is guaranteed for 12 years, or 30,000 playing hours (2017). Many of the UK manufacturers have similar product guarantee periods, either measured in playing hours, or years. It is vitally important that the surface is maintained to the manufacturers standards for the guarantee to remain valid, artificial turf pitches are not maintenance free.

-Can an artificial hockey pitch be used for other sports?
More and more artificial hockey pitches are becoming multi-sport facilities as hockey clubs and local councils look to maximise the number of hours that the surface can be used for, therefore increasing pitch hire revenue. Artificial turf surfaces can be used for multiple sports, many manufacturers have sand-dressed systems which can be used for 5-a-side football, hockey and tennis. Other sports suited to a sand-dressed surface include volleyball, lacrosse, touch rugby and athletics.

Hockey Pitch

Hockey and the Rio Olympics

The Rio Olympics Showcased Just How Great Water-Based Artificial Hockey Pitches Are

Following the success of Team GB Women’s hockey team, where they won gold at Rio, there has been much hype around the sport and types of artificial hockey pitches available. Both Olympic hockey pitches, and the training pitch in Rio were water-based, which created a stir on social media. Many people were questioning why the pitches were blue, and others asked why water was visible on the pitches when it hadn’t rained.

The London 2012 Olympic Games hosted the first world hockey event played on a different coloured surface to the traditional ‘field green;’ they were blue with pink run-offs. The colour doesn’t affect the game, it just makes it more fun! It has been suggested in the media that perhaps the blue and green pitch with white lines and a yellow ball were selected in Rio as they make up the colours of the national flag.

Elite level hockey is preferably played on a wet pitch, a water-based pitch does not have any sand infill. The water reduces friction, enabling the ball to roll faster and straighter than with other types of artificial hockey pitch surfaces. It also affects the players’ sliding, running and turning; stick-work including dribbling, hitting, pushing, dragging, flicking and scooping of the ball.

These factors allowing for a fast-passed, technical game. The layer of water in the surface needs to replenished before a match and during half time breaks, numerous water cannons and a complex irrigation and drainage system are installed within all water based artificial hockey pitches.

Prior to the Rio Olympics, an identical FIH water-based artificial hockey pitch was also constructed at Bisham Abbey (home to England Hockey).  This enabled the British hockey team to practise on the exact same surface as Rio. Perhaps this gave them an advantage, the girls performed outstandingly!

Since their return, the GB Ladies hockey team have attended an athletes’ parade in Manchester, followed by the heroes return in London. Many of the gold medal winning GB ladies’ team have also appeared on TV shows for interviews, and were even invited to Buckingham Palace for an audience with the royal family, which included Her Majesty The Queen and Price Harry.

Our website details the various types of artificial hockey pitches available.

water-based olympic hockey pitches

England Manager, Gareth Southgate opens Burton Albion’s new sports pitch

Pirelli Stadium’s new 3G Pitch opening

Football Foundation Ambassador and England Manager, Gareth Southgate, was invited to open the newly constructed TigerTurf and McArdle Sport Tec football pitch in Burton today. We sent one of our team to the Pirelli Stadium to attend the Football Foundation’s official opening ceremony.

Burton Albion Community Trust applied for a funding grant which was approved and granted by the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, and was delivered by the Football Foundation. McArdle Sport Tec, TigerTurf UK and Technical Surfaces were awarded the contract and worked together to design, build, manufacture and maintain a new artificial 3G football pitch for Burton Albion Community Trust. The pitch measures 97m x 61m and the scope of works included refurbishing the existing floodlighting system and installing new fencing and hardstandings. For the installation, TigerTurf manufactured the new artificial surface Atomic Pro 60, which conforms to the latest FIFA testing requirements. The carpet was laid upon a macadam pitch base.

The new pitch will allow BACT to gain extra revenue from hiring the pitches to local teams within the community, extending the hours of play to 50+ per week in comparison to a natural turf pitch, and the pitch can be utilised during the winter months. The income generated will greatly benefit the charity to extend its reach within the local community.

Scott Taylor, Football Development Officer at Burton Albion Community Trust commented: “The new TigerTurf pitch caters for people of all abilities and ages ranging from 5 to 90 years old who can benefit from a safe environment that meets the required standards. We’ve seen a large rise in the number of users, and this is set to increase over the coming months with more demand for pitch hiring during the daytime.

“We have projected an income of over £40,000 in usage between the months of September through to April as these are typically the most popular months for activities. This will provide a welcome boost to the trust’s income and can be used to further improve our ever-growing programme of activity.

“Another benefit of the quality surface provided is that it has allowed the caretaker to maintain the pitch with ease. Furthermore, we’ve benefitted from the adequate support on TigerTurf’s website which has helped maintain and improve the performance of the pitch, highlighting the most important processes.”

The Premier League & The Facilities Fund is delivered by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government, via Sport England. It is delivered by the Football Foundation, the country’s largest sports charity. Since it was launched in 2000, the Football Foundation has awarded around 15,000 grants worth more that £580m towards improving grassroots sports, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £800m – over £1.3bn of investment into the grassroots game.

Football Foundation

McArdle Sport Tec Ltd, Geo Turf Consulting & TigerTurf UK- finalists in the SAPCA Awards 2016

McArdle’s complex design & build project at Aberystwyth Town FC was nominated

The SAPCA Awards 2016 were held on the 6th February 2017 at SAPCA’s annual conference and awards dinner, we were thrilled to have one of our projects nominated for the SAPCA Excellence Award. The complex pitch design and installation project at Aberystwyth Town FC was a joint McArdle Sport Tec, GEO Turf Consulting & TigerTurf UK team undertaking.

NOMINATION: Following the increasing number of artificial pitches installed at Welsh premier league team grounds, Aberystwyth Town FC sought to install a 3G pitch of their own. With investment from the Welsh FA and working closely with Jonathan Smith, a sports surface consultant from GEO Turf Consulting, Aberystwyth Town FC were keen to find a solution that would not only provide the club with a first-class, all-weather pitch but that also carefully considered environmental and sustainability factors as the existing ground was classified as contaminated. The site location and existing ground conditions created particularly difficult challenges for the project, both technically and financially.

As such, it was decided that the Park Avenue Stadium pitch would be constructed with an Ecocept base – an innovative, sports-performance base layer which provides a host of excellent environmental and sustainable benefits to an artificial grass pitch installation compared to traditional construction methods.

The use of Ecocept meant that no off-site removal of contaminated materials was required as we stabilised the site soils to a CBR of approximately 50% for frost protection and stability, and that no imported stone had to be transported onto site – saving not only money and time but also reducing vehicle movements on and off site leading to a lower carbon footprint compared to a traditional pitch installation. This was beneficial as the town centre location can be difficult to navigate and can become easily congested.

With the proximity of the sea to the stadium, a high water table from tidal water had previously caused issues of flooding on the pitch. A waste water management programmed had to be designed to ensure the pitch could be used year-round. A soakaway was constructed, however, due to a tidal water table, which would be a problem on Spring high tides, an affordable pumped solution had to be found. New and innovative technologies in testing conditions were explored to cater for very large flows, with a pump set to discharge a minimum of 42lts/s. A series of drains were introduced to link to the new soakaway. To ensure the worst possible storm event conditions were considered, the pump station was designed to discharge to the sea in the most extreme conditions.

The decision to make use of new technologies in the construction of the new 3G pitch allowed the club to complete the project on a limited budget, increase playing hours available at the club to open the club up to the wider community, including disability sports clubs, youth and academy teams, and to create additional revenue streams. Now that fixtures will not need to be cancelled, the club has also seen an increased attendance at First Team fixtures, again bringing in additional income to the club.

After much hard work and problem solving, we managed to successfully install almost 8,000sqm of British-made artificial turf upon an innovative and bespoke base and drainage solution which had to work within a busy coastal town centre location.

McArdle Sport Tec are in the starting blocks at the University of Birmingham

8-Lane Athletics Track Installation

After submitting a detailed design and tender for the installation of a new athletics track at University of Birmingham, McArdle Sport Tec Ltd were thrilled to have been awarded the project contract. The large scale project for the University of Birmingham at Edgbaston Park Road is sure to attract many users from the university and King Edward’s School which is situated opposite the University site. The new facility includes an 8-lane athletics track with a natural turf infield and a state-of-the-art LED floodlighting system, as well as field areas for steeple chase, high jump, long jump, javelin, hammer and discus.

After an initial site clearance, the major works are expected to start imminently with the IAAF accredited track surface and associated facilities to be completed in the summer. The extensive project involves the removal and re-use of a vast expanse of top soil,  design and installation of complex drainage systems, the installation of a stone sub-base and a macadam base, installation of the polymeric running surface, line marking in accordance with UK athletics, timber crib wall construction, planting and much more.

The synthetic track surfacing will be a ‘sandwich’ system, formed of a base layer of resin bound black SBR rubber crumb and a top layer of solid red polyurethane resin with partially embedded red EPDM rubber crumb forming the surface texture. Paved areas are to be erected for judges stands on the inside and outside of the track circuit, at the finish line on the main straight.

Athletics track installation specialists McArdle Sport Tec have previously installed athletics tracks and facilities throughout the UK including, but not limited to, The Manchester Commonwealth Games stadium track, The Aberdeen Sports Village, Stowe School, King George V Playing Fields in Swansea, Tavistock College, and are currently mid-way though the construction of a new track  at the National Indoor Athletics Centre located at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

athletics track installation

How your team can embark on the artificial 3G rugby pitch construction journey

The 3G artificial pitch construction process-

With the recent statement from the RFU suggesting they are looking to fund the construction of artificial 3G rugby pitches as part of their “AGP Programme”, and having installed one of the pilot pitches ourselves, we are increasingly being asked how the 3G artificial pitch construction process begins, and how clubs can apply to be part of the scheme.

When considering an artificial pitch, all aspects of the installation must be carefully considered. Not only do we need to provide you with the best quality turf and completed pitch, we need to ensure this is delivered on-time, within the club’s budget and to the highest customer service standard. In order to ensure we are able to offer the premium pitches we are renowned for, we will need to meet the main stakeholders so we can determine exactly what is required. There is no standard specification, all sites offer alternative challenges and conditions, drainage plans, logistics, specifications and budgets all differ.

A feasibility study begins with a free site visit to assess the potential site. Planning conditions are carefully considered and project designs are tailored to ensure individual conditions are adhered to. An extensive range of pitch options and specifications are discussed and a range of design options are presented to the club.

How can artificial 3G rugby pitch construction benefit your club?-

Artificial 3G rugby pitch construction provides clubs the opportunity to boost participation in the game. The main advantages include providing the opportunity for more playing hours, more training hours and a consistent surface which can be utilised throughout the year. As part of the RFU’s Rugby World Cup 2015 legacy promise of delivering over £50m investment over four years, they have pledged to develop 100 artificial grass pitches across England. Once all AGPs are built it is anticipated that grassroots rugby will see 16,000 new regular participants taking up the sport as a result of greater access to quality playing facilities across the country.

How can your club get on the list for potential funding for an artificial 3G rugby pitch?-

As far as we know there is no official application process for the RFU’s AGP strategy, should your club be looking to get on the RFU’s potential list you would need to speak with the RFU facilities manager in your area. A list of contacts and their details can be found here.

Artificial Rugby Pitch

3G Football Pitch – Which Boots?

To keep a 3G pitch looking its best, the correct footwear is vital.

In order to prolong the life of a 3G pitch it’s vital that players wear suitable footwear. All 3G pitches should have DOs and Don’ts boards detailing the acceptable footwear. As a general guide, see the illustration taken from the FA Guide to 3G Design & Layouts.

3G Suitable Pitch boots

Get Active in January

3G football pitch construction lets you train and play all year round

As Christmas becomes a distant memory, much of the nation will set and break their new year’s resolutions before January is over. Playing on a 3G football pitch can help you stick at being more active, enabling you to play and train all year.

As well as providing a pitch which can withstand more endurance, throughout the year, artificial pitches can generate an income for your club. FIFA have created new standards of testing to ensure 3G football pitch construction meets FIFA standards of play and quality assurance. McArdle Sport Tec install surfaces which meet FIFA ‘s Quality Programme for Football Turf.

Benefits from 3G football pitch construction for your club:

Third-generation pitches can be played on during the winter months – Meaning you won’t have to try to catch up on postponed matches. Some 3G surface systems are guaranteed for up to twenty-thousand playing hours. 3G pitches can withstand a much more intense schedule than natural turf pitches, they are ideal for hosting tournaments.

Income generation – 3G football pitch construction can not only improve your club’s facilities, but also generate money from hiring out the pitches to other local teams and schools. A 3G pitch can be split and hired in sections for training, full matches and even parties.

Superior durability – 3G pitches can be played on for many more hours each week without causing damage to the pitch area. 3G pitches can be played on throughout the day and evening and do not need time to rest and recover, unlike natural turf pitches.

Heavy maintenance to repair a damaged pitch surface is not required – A 3G pitch will require regular maintenance such as brushing, however won’t need mowing, fertilising, patching and regular line marking.

Controlled playing characteristics – FIFA standard 3G surfaces have been specially designed to mimic the characteristics of a natural turf pitch. 3G pitches hold the ball well giving players control over ball roll with complete freedom of movement.

Funding for 3G football pitch construction can be obtained from the Football Foundation & Sport England, should your club meet their requirements.