Q: How are hockey pitch coverings made and of what material?
A: The various pitch manufactures use a range of plastic materials to weave the carpets.
The carpet is manufactured from yarn of polypropylene or polyethylene or nylon or a combination of these and other synthetic material. The manufacturers tend to keep the materials recipe very much in house. The yarn may be twisted, curled, fibrillated, multiplied or have other processes applied before carpet manufacture.
The yarn is looped into a polypropylene (usually) backing fabric and then cut to the desired height. The backing fabric is then sealed with latex or polyurethane. Manufacture is by weaving, tufting or knitting to the density required for the particular type of pitch.
Q: What is the best pitch carpet material for a wet (unfilled) hockey pitch?
A: There are claims and counter claims made about the relative merits of each type of manufacture and of nylon and polypropylene and polyethylene yarns for unfilled pitches. Certainly, there are performance differences, but it hardly favours one product in comparison with the other, with the exception that history has shown that pure nylon needs additional protection against UV degradation in sunny climates.
Much successful research is being undertaken in regards to UV stabilisation of yarns, particularly by the manufacturers of nylon products which now offer extended warranties to back their claims of an increasingly stable material.
FIH does not favour any one material over others but recommends that all intending Proprietors contact a range of FIH Approved Manufacturers to obtain full information of the various materials before deciding which to use. As an additional safeguard contact a number of Proprietors which have already installed the hockey pitch system you are contemplating, and obtain their views on pitch performance over 3, 5, 7 and 10 year periods.
Ensure you negotiate the best possible warranty period which is suggested as a minimum of seven years.
Q. What is the most favoured material for the manufacture of hockey pitches?
A: While we are aware that the majority of pitches are made from either polypropylene, polyethylene, or nylon with or without additives, FIH does not become involved with dictating the particular type of material which should be used and does not have data to indicate the proportion of each pitch material which currently exists in the hockey world.
Q: Why is polyethylene now being used to a greater extent in hockey pitch carpets than polypropylene?
A: The majority of FIH Approved Manufacturers advise us that polyethylene is fast overtaking the use of polypropylene for Hockey pitch carpets, while nylon continues to hold it’s market share.
The reason for using polyethylene is because it has a better slide factor than polypropylene and supposedly will require less water. We say supposedly because we do not have any evidence to substantiate such a claim as yet.
Polyethelene will often be referred to as LSR, i.e. low slide resistance.
Many of the world’s pitch manufacturers have already switched from polypropylene to polyethylene and the majority of the world’s pitch manufacturers are now producing polyethylene material pitches.
Q. Which is the most UV resistant type of pitch carpet?
A: The most ultra violet resistant material used in pitches is polypropylene followed by polyethylene and then nylon.
Obviously the ultra violet radiation levels of places such as Canada, Japan, Holland, Germany, Denmark and other points in the northern hemisphere are not as high as the tropical climate zones of Australia, Africa, Asia or the Americas.
Q: How does FIH control the yarn from which a hockey pitch is made?
A: FIH does approve specific synthetic yarn or yarn components. The priority of FIH is the playability and performance of the finished product along with requirements for a product which will not be detrimental to health and safety of players, umpires, officials and spectators. This can be achieved using various yarns and yarn constructions.
Q: How do I understand quality references for pitch carpets?
A: Pile height is the height (length) of carpet yarn above the backing. An unfilled (wet) pitch will have 12mm approximately pile height. A long pile pitch may be up to 70mm pile height (length).
Density is measured by the number of tufts per metre in both weft and warp directions.
Weight measures the amount of pile weight per square metre but can be very confusing, e.g. a long pile height of 70mm can be one sixth the density of an unfilled pitch but both products will have the same weight.
Denier is the measurement of the gauge or thickness or firmness of the yarn.
Q: It is sometimes difficult to assess the actual manufacture, material and structure of a pitch carpet from the FIH Approved Products List. How can this information be obtained?
A: You should contact the manufacturers either through the internet, mail or phone and they will be delighted to assist you. Their contact information including website addresses are available in the list of FIH Approved Manufacturers in the Pitches and Equipment section of this website.
Q: How can the various pitch materials be compared?
A: When you contact the various manufacturers, you should also request from them the names of Proprietors for the range of pitch materials which they have installed, e.g. polyethylene, polypropylene, nylon pitches. The former will not have as long a history as the latter two. You can then get a comment from the respective proprietors.