Having established that your pitch needs a shock pad for improved performance, life expectancy and player comfort, the next decision relates to the type of pad that is chosen. This is more complicated than perhaps you would think, and the lack of attention this vital area of a pitch system gets is somewhat surprising.
There are three types of shock pad on the market today, made using a variety of materials, some recycled others virgin. The most popular in the UK is the Insitu rubber pad. This is laid by machine directly onto asphalt or stone. The thickness of the pad is regulated by laser ensuring a flat and even top. It is only as good as the levels it is laid on and the quality of workmanship and materials used in its make-up. If laid correctly, to high tolerances, with the right binder and rubber, this is an excellent pad, offering a balance in performance, which helps meet required standards. However, quality is not always guaranteed.
The second type of pad comes in roll form and is made in a factory. This means that the thickness is constant, the density also and therefore the end result is a uniform performance over the entire pitch. Whether made from recycled rubber, closed cell foam (non porous) or open cell foam (porous), consistency is the main selling point. The rolls are normally made to fit the area, and once laid overcome minor base level problems, but the rule of thumb is that the pre-formed roll pad will not correct major dips and bumps.
The final type of pad is also factory made but comes in panels. And here we see perhaps the greatest range of values as high performance polypropylene panels clash with low end recycled foam panels. Once again the levels of the supporting base need to be perfect as the panels will follow existing contours, but the guaranteed thickness ensures consistent performance under the turf. So how do you choose which type to go for? A simple argument is to look for long term value. Pre-formed shock pads will generally offer a much longer guarantee, often at least two life times of the playing surface. Whereas only the best Insitu pads can match this, and even then only one or two of the best installers will give you the right balance of materials and cost. Look closely at the supporting documentation to verify the quality and suitability of the shock pad offered. As in many things in life, lowest price or what the contractor wants to sell you is not always the right choice.
For more information, get in touch with one of the Rhino-Turf Team.