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


On St Andrews Day in 2013 the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, attended the opening ceremony for one of our newly constructed hockey pitches.

St Andrews Prep School appointed McArdle Sport Tec for their new artificial hockey pitch construction project. For this installation we used TigerTurf UK’S EvoPro carpet to meet with International Hockey Federation standards. The pitch measured approximately 100x60m and the project included the installation of drainage, a 15mm in-situ shock pad and a tarmac layer beneath the surface.

Kate was a pupil of St Andrews from 1986-1995 and was invited by the school to officially open the new pitch. Kate formally opened the new pitch by unveiling a plaque before meeting members of the school’s current hockey team and playing a quick game.

During the opening, Kate stated, ‘It was while I was here at school that I realised my love of sport. Sport has been a huge part of my life, and I feel incredibly grateful for the opportunities I had to get outside and play in such wonderful open spaces – though sadly there was nothing quite as glamorous as this in my time! I hope that you all enjoy playing sport here as much as I used to, and make the most of these incredible facilities.’

Click here to see The Dutchess of Cambridge playing hockey on the newly opened pitch.

Hockey Pitch Construction

“We are very happy with our new sand-dressed pitch. McArdle completed it on budget and on time and were a great team to work with, I would definitely consider them again for future work. The finished pitch looks fantastic and the children are really enjoying the great surface.”



We offer a comprehensive service from conception and planning through to design and construction.

Beating the winter with an artificial hockey pitch

With only a few weeks until Christmas and temperatures dropping below freezing this week, winter is finally here. How does the change in the seasons affect your hockey clubs’ match fixtures?

The most common complaints we hear about natural turf pitches are weather related. Be it waterlogged pitches or frozen surfaces, the winter weather can affect pitch playing conditions and can lead to cancelled fixtures. When natural turf pitches can’t drain effectively it’s highly likely that the surface will become boggy. Muddy, boggy pitches can be off-putting for players and when played on, the surface can be damaged immensely which will take a lot of work to rectify when the weather improves.

Uneven ground on a sports pitch can be a big problem across all sports. Hockey pitches need to be relatively flat for the ball to roll effectively, and to prevent injury. A frozen surface will provide almost no cushioning for player’s joints.

Natural grass pitches generally cannot sustain the high levels of use that artificial turf hockey pitches can and need to be ‘rested’ from use regardless of the weather. Some artificial turf surface systems for hockey have a guaranteed playing time of 30,000 playing hours.

If you have experienced postponed matches due to poor weather maiming your natural turf pitch almost useless, perhaps it’s time to consider an all-weather pitch. Artificial hockey pitches can prove beneficial all year round, not only during the winter months. During the warmer seasons, sand-dressed pitches do not require watering and will require less preparation and maintenance than a natural turf pitch.

Our top tips for maintaining artificial hockey pitches

In order to keep your artificial hockey pitch looking and performing its best it is vital to maintain it. A well-maintained pitch will optimise playing conditions, reduce chance of injury and ensure the pitch drains effectively.

When you appoint a hockey pitch construction contractor they should consider ease of maintenance into the design. Ways to keep the pitch tidy can include the installation of tarmac paths leading to the pitch, landscaping with non-shedding trees and even installing artificial turf warm up areas so the pitch doesn’t get contaminated with mud. Our top tips for maintaining artificial hockey pitches include:

1. Preventative Maintenance –
Regularly clear debris from the pitch area such as litter, leaves, twigs and mud. Empty the bins to ensure they don’t overflow onto the pitch area. Remove any weeds which are encroaching from around the edge of the pitch.

2. Appropriate Footwear –
Ensure all users of the pitch know what footwear is appropriate for the surface.

Most shoe manufacturers produce a boot which is specifically designed for the sport played on a synthetic turf pitch, ensure you communicate which type of footwear is suitable for your artificial playing surface.

3. Moss and Algae Removal –
In some seasons moss can become established on the surface, water-based pitches might be more prone to this. Keep an eye out for any build-up of moss or algae around the edge of the artificial hockey pitch.

4. Routine Care-
Brushing the turf regularly in different directions will ensure the fibres stay upright. Use a drag brush behind a tractor for the best results and pay particular attention to heavy traffic areas, such as the pitch entrance and goal areas.

5. Rejuvenation –
From time-to-time it’s best to call in the experts to give the artificial hockey pitch a deep clean. They will closely inspect the surface to ensure there is no tearing and that all seams remain securely fastened. They will check the in-fill levels and can top up the sand if required.