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Athletic fields are used by more than just athletes. Your synthetic turf field’s design needs to accommodate various activities — from graduation ceremonies and gym classes to band practices and performances, color guard, and the drill team.
With marching bands playing and practicing on your synthetic turf field, there are certain steps you’ll need to take in order to safeguard a long lifespan for your turf. Here are seven ways to ensure everything about your artificial turf is in tune, both before and after the band goes on.
First things first — you’ll want to do a quick visual sweep for any debris left behind during sports practices or games. Garbage or neglected equipment can quickly become a tripping hazard for band members whose line of sight is interrupted by instruments, and the same is true for athletes using the field after band practice. Smaller-scale debris, like discarded chewing gum, can cause turf damage and should be cleared away, too.
No matter how durable synthetic turf is compared to natural grass, fields in frequent rotation will eventually, inevitably, show some wear. And with the need for outdoor events increasing since the start of the pandemic, for some fields, that wear could come at an accelerated rate.
When assessing your field for wear and tear, you’ll want to keep an eye out for sections of the field where sharp turns are often taken. Due to repetitive band formations and patterns, the field may have become worn in these highly frequented areas, causing it to lose some of its surface traction and grip. While we realize part of a solid marching band performance is practicing until it’s perfect, a good rule of thumb is to rotate practice locations on the field, having the band face the home stands one day of the week and visitor stands the next. This allows band members to maintain a visual of yard lines and formation markers while limiting repetitive wear patterns. It’s also a good idea to test your field before fall sports begin, making you aware of any such trouble areas.
To protect your turf’s longevity — and its aesthetic appeal — regular, relatively low-maintenance surface upkeep will go a long way. Brushing the field will help ensure your turf fibers are upright. It’s recommended to do this at least once a month, or more often in busier seasons. Brushing your field after about 40 hours of use is a good standard to keep.
Maintaining proper infill levels is critical for artificial turf field performance, as well as athlete and student safety. Inconsistent infill depths in highly trafficked areas impact the performance of your field. Additionally, areas with low infill levels leave your turf backing vulnerable to cleats and other equipment, all of which can damage your field over time and with repeat exposure. You can find more information about how to measure your infill levels (and request a free infill gauge from our Motz365 maintenance team here.)
Band members need to be able to see clearly where to stand while carrying clunky instruments, which is why it’s important that fields are visibly marked. Re-striping your field once a week — potentially more often, depending on weather conditions and frequency of field use — is recommended during marching band season. Fields with fully inlaid synthetic turf lines, it stands to be noted, have an advantage in this arena, as they often come with permanent tick marks built-in.
Pro tip: While duct tape is commonly used to mark band formations, it can leave a field-damaging residue behind and is best avoided. We recommend using Gaffer Tape instead.
We’ll put it plainly: band uniforms can get hot, and so can synthetic turf fields as the sun beats down on them. For this reason, you may want to build your synthetic turf system with heat protection in mind. Safeshell, made from 100% organic and US-grown walnut shells, is a naturally cooling infill shown to keep artificial turf cooler on average than fields that use crumb rubber infill.
Beyond choosing an evaporative-by-design infill, putting up tents for shade and water stations is another way to give band members a heat break. You’ll need to pay close attention, though, to how your tents are set up in order to avoid irreparable turf damage.
You’ve already done a sweep for debris, but trash discarded during Friday night’s football game isn’t the only thing that can pose a risk. Especially in advance and on the heels of a busy season, take the time to check for any repairs needed to your synthetic turf. Seam splits, inlay damage and tears in the turf itself are covered by many turf manufacturers’ warranties, and once spotted, you’ll want to get these fixed stat to ensure band member and athlete safety. (Need help with a last-minute repair? The Motz365 rapid repair team gets to you in 24 hours or less, and in 2021, their average response time was just 8 hours. How’s that for stat?)
Want more tips for maintaining a well-groomed, safe, and long-lasting synthetic turf field? Find more advice on the Motz blog.