Improve Safety on the Court
By Xavier Nicolau
To ensure optimum levels of safety and playability, sports flooring should adhere to the new ASTM F2772 regulations in multi-sports flooring. The new floor regulations set benchmarks for good sports floors based on shock absorption and ball bounce. The ASTM F2772 standard classifies floors into five performance level classifications from C1 to C5, where C1 is the minimum with 10 percent in force reduction. The higher the shock absorption a floor provides, the better an athlete is protected from injuries.
According to the Web site, www.usa.safekids.org, 50 percent of all organized sports-related injuries can be prevented. The new ASTM F2772 standard supports this statistic by outlining approved shock absorption qualities and reduction in force rates, as well as enhanced ball bounce and playability. The new guideline provides the following benefits:
Protection for athletes of all levels to minimize stress on the body and prevent injury.
Ease of mind for facility managers, architects, end users or sports facility owners who can be confident that their facility is safe and meets new ASTM standards.
Consistency across the flooring industry that specifiers can use to make intelligent choices when it comes to sports flooring surfaces.
How can you know if your floors follow the minimum criteria of the new ASTM F2772 standard and which type of shock absorption you need for your facility?
The rule of thumb is that vinyl composition tiles (VCT) and carpet lack cushion and shock absorption, and don't meet the minimum criteria of the first category. Thus, they should not be used for sports.
When considering wood flooring and other non-vinyl options, it can be very costly and difficult to maintain these types of floors throughout their life cycle. Vinyl back flooring is a cost-effective alternative, and offers different levels of shock absorption, as well as ball rebound and other important sports floor criteria.
Shock Absorption and Comfort: Floor thickness does not always guarantee greater shock absorption. A good vinyl sports floor meets the ASTM F2772 standard for shock absorption, which means less risk of injuries due to jumps or falls.
Performance and Playability: ASTM F2772 requires a minimum of 90 percent ball rebound across the entire sports flooring surface.
Good quality vinyl sports flooring should consist of a multi-layered construction of pure vinyl and a reinforced fiberglass grid with a closed-cell foam backing. The quality and construction of the layers will have direct impact on the flooring's overall performance, recyclability and gymnasium aesthetics. Other performance qualities to consider include:
No Vibrations/No Area Deflection: One of the main advantages of well-built vinyl flooring is its consistency throughout the floor of having no area of deflection. The greater the area deflection of a sports floor, the greater the risk of vibration, injuries and "dead spots."
Coefficient of Friction: Vinyl sports flooring will provide an optimal balance of grip and slide in all directions to ensure ease of movement.
Multipurpose Use: Good vinyl flooring construction and the quality of closed cell backing will withstand tables and chairs for an event and then return to its original form.
Consistency: Consistent ball bounce, comfort, shock absorption and coefficient of friction should take place across the entire sports flooring surface.
Protect Against Skin Burns: Some treatments on the vinyl sports floor can prevent the spread of bacteria, as well as prevent skin burns.
Easy to Maintain: Good vinyl sports flooring eliminates the need for waxes, coatings or finishes and is stain resistant and easy to maintain, thereby reducing maintenance costs.
Low Life Cycle Cost: A low life cycle cost translates to thousands of dollars of savings and a reduction in the harmful effects on the environment due to frequent floor replacements. A vinyl sports flooring solution should always come with a warranty.
Environmentally Friendly: Vinyl can be 100 percent recycled during and after manufacture and, thus, good vinyl sports flooring should have a great environmental record and be ISO 14001 certified.
Acoustic Performance: Noise reduction is key when considering a vinyl sports flooring, and with better designed flooring solutions, noise can be reduced up to 23 decibels.
Prevents MRSA: Vinyl flooring is naturally waterproof and can be heat welded to form a continuous, non-porous surface to inhibit the growth of microorganisms, bacteria, fungus, mold and mildew. In fact, vinyl flooring deters the growth of harmful bacteria, such as MRSA and other contagions.
Before selecting sports flooring, always ask for a certificate of ASTM F2272 compliance to ensure you and your athletes are protected from unnecessary problems or injuries.
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