Synthetic turf systems have gone through quite an evolution from the initial installs in the 1970s until today. In that time, industry trends and consumer feedback have led to innovations in additional components within a turf system. Things like alternative infills and different fiber options, which are hot commodities these days, were not top of mind for a field owner even 15 years ago. One of the key pieces to emerge as an answer to a void in the industry is a shock pad, sometimes referred to as a shock absorption pad. Launched as an option for a synthetic turf system after athlete injury concerns came to the forefront of the industry, shock pads provide an added layer of impact absorption. Applicable under any turf system and with any type of infill, a shock pad provides many added benefits to the participants playing and running on top of it when applied.
There are different brands of pads, different price tags, with different built in benefits. Regardless of the shock pad you choose for your field, they can be a great addition to your system. All pads, if installed correctly, can help give the synthetic turf field a consistent GMAX test rating throughout its life. A GMAX test measures the shock attenuation of body impact on the synthetic turf. Results from a GMAX test can be a helpful tool in the evaluation of how much time is left in the life of a synthetic turf field. Higher GMAX results indicate a potential need for replacement to ensure player safety, which tend to occur later in the life of the field. Surfaces with a pad, however, are seeing much lower results from day 1 through day 3,000 and are able to experience an extended lifespan. Many are able to avoid replacement an additional 2-4 years beyond the base time frame of eight years, which is the standard for synthetic turf fields that do not have a pad.
Field owners who have a pad are also seeing a more uniform playing surface for their athletes. A new generation of pad systems has been engineered with material that allows the pad to provide the same stability under the synthetic turf, regardless of location on the field or weather/temperature. Shock pads enhance the surface drainage of the synthetic turf, allowing participants to get back to play seamlessly after a rainstorm.
Another benefit for a shock pad under a turf system is that many products can be reused beyond one lifecycle. Pads will come at a cost; however, the owner is typically able to get double the years out of the price paid once at the installation of the field.
For more information on the different shock pads available on the market today or to determine the best application for your field, contact your synthetic turf provider, or we are happy to serve as a resource. Below are also a few links to shock pad providers that our team typically works with, if you would like to learn more.