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