Quite simply a shock pad will make your surface play better and last longer. That, on its own, should be sufficient reason to always go for a shock pad. Surprisingly that isn’t always the case under 3G pitches. There are different types of shock pad, but all offer resilience for the player, and reduce compaction within the playing surface. Many years ago hockey reacted to the advent of a new type of surface and adopted synthetic turf. The early pitches were often laid directly onto stone, as a poor man’s imitation of the successful Dutch lava system. Increasingly these became harder so shock pads were introduced. At that time their use was designed to relieve the hardness from the stone base. Now you will not find a hockey pitch without a pad.
So why aren’t all football pitches built with a shock pad? As often is the case, the answer lies in cost. You can meet the standards set by governing bodies without a shock pad, initially. And a 60mm length surface will save up to £4.00 per sqm when laid onto stone, or £30,000 on a full size pitch. But very quickly the folly of short term gain can hit back, as the pitch will harden and often fall outside desired performance standards within the first year.
Perhaps the absence of a shock pad lobby is to blame. Most contractors can offer a shock pad, but choose not to, based on balancing a desire to meet the client’s budget and win the work. It takes the consultant to drive the benefit across, not the contractor. It also needs more support from the manufacturer, when offering a system, to promote the benefits of shock pads. Of course greater end user education will also help, and this is where trade bodies such as SAPCA and ESTO can help.
The risk is that when the flood gates open and league clubs start to install synthetic turf pitches, the first pitch laid without a pad is really risking the future for all the other pitches. When the FA accepts synthetic turf into their premier competition, the FA Cup, it should be on the proviso that all pitches have a shock pad.
Most contracts to install synthetic turf pitches are won on cost. Let’s consider value as a more important decider. With a shock pad the value increases through longer life of the surface, better performance and improved feel for the player. The initial extra cost is far outweighed by these three key benefits.
For more information, get in touch with one of the Rhino-Turf Team.