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The new FIH testing guidelines for hockey pitches explained

19 Nov

The new FIH testing guidelines for hockey pitches explained Recent updates to the FIH Quality Programme for Hockey Turf have seen a raft of changes brought in, improving the way hockey pitches and products are tested for certification. Here Eric O’Donnell from leading sports surface development experts, Sports Labs, discusses what this means for your new facility.

Whilst the 2012 Handbook provided an edited and more detailed account of the testing methods used to evaluate hockey products and playing surfaces, the new FIH Quality Programme for Hockey Turf – released in April 2017 – incorporates a significant update to the requirements for both products and the field of play.

What does it mean?

The upshot of this revision is that products and installations put forward to be certified by the FIH are being more thoroughly examined. For the manufacturer, this will mean developing new hockey surfaces to meet the requirements, and developing new surfaces as further criteria are added. For the club, school or university investing, the handbook provides more scope to ensure your facility is certified to the appropriate FIH mark.

What do I need to know?

1. Forward planning

All product updates must be completed by 1st June 2018. So, if you’re planning on investing, it may pay to make sure the surface you have chosen will be future-proofed once installed.

2. Forward planning

The number of product classes available for categorising a product has been increased to six. These range from ‘Global Elite’ to ‘Multi-sport’, giving you much more choice depending on the needs of your installation.

3. Material matters

The new requirements will also see the materials used to manufacture artificial grass hockey pitches more closely examined for properties such as yarn type, density, or dtex, and thickness. Fill materials are also being examined – thus ensuring that the information listed by manufacturers is consistent with what is being installed.

4. Stricter testing

The UV Radiation test, which is conducted on the yarn filaments, within the artificial grass has been increased from 3000 hrs to 5000 hrs. Additionally, a new test classifying skin friction has been added for ‘Global’ category products – with further tests measuring durability, player-surface interaction, shock pad and toxicology set to be introduced in due course.

5. A new game format

Finally, the relatively new format of Hockey 5s courts has been officially introduced into the classification, and can be offered up for certification.

There are a number of other changes that we haven’t gone into here, such as maximum and “preferred” slopes, tightening up of allowable deviations around the mean for ball roll tests, restrictions on pad re-use for some categories and restrictions on colour for some categories. Please do not hesitate to call for how these changes may impact your facility.

There is much to take in here, and the impact of any new requirements can sometimes take time to filter through to the market. However, it is certainly fair to say that the level of testing of products and facilities has been stepped up – and ultimately, this will help to bring the FIH in line with organisations like FIFA and World Rugby.