Guest Column - April 2011
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Sports Surfaces

Selecting Sports Surfaces for Your Facility

By Ken Chmura and Joe Corbet

3. Ask for the Floor's Sports Properties

Look for the appropriate sports properties in your flooring. These include shock absorption, coefficient of friction, absence of area of deflection, the overall appearance and manufacturer's expertise.

To begin with, a floor's thickness doesn't always translate to greater shock absorption, so it is important to ensure the floor is compliant with the ASTM F2772-09 indoor sports properties standard. This standard sets the bar in shock absorption levels and playability for optimum performance and safety. Playability is measured by the ball bounce or rebound, which needs to be a minimum of 90 percent across the entire surface. Similarly, safety is measured by the floor's ability to absorb shock, also known as force reduction, and needs to be a minimum of 10 percent. This standard acts as a "safety net" as it ensures protection for your athletes and facility patrons by minimizing stress on the body and helping to prevent injuries.

Good sports flooring should have the optimal level of grip and slide, or coefficient of friction, which is the ability for the player to have the right level of slide, break or dive during play. Look for a vinyl floor with a finishing that offers the right level of coefficient of friction and also offers a burn-free surface when playing sports like volleyball where diving and falling are common.

Another advantage of high-performance vinyl flooring is its consistency throughout the floor of having no area of deflection. The greater the area of deflection of a sports floor, the greater the risk of vibration, injuries and "dead spots." These dead spots affect how the ball bounces and can be detrimental to sports play. Additionally, a good vinyl sports floor will have the look of hardwoods, without the headache of high maintenance. That is, there is an array of patterns and wood colors in vinyl flooring currently on the market that can satisfy even the most discerning facility manager or sport enthusiast.

Perhaps one of the most important aspects to consider, on which all floor qualities and characteristics are based, is the expertise of the flooring manufacturer. A flooring company should have a proven track record of success with specific case studies and examples available to help you make decisions.