Shade Structures

Most sports have safe overrun guidelines to guard against athletes sustaining injury with spectators, bleachers, etc. These overruns (generally expressed as at least a minimum of clear space) are mandated by national governing bodies, and must be observed when it comes to placement of shade structures. Having slightly more space than the minimum is far better than having too little.

 Tennis Courts: According to regulations, shade structures must be placed outside the playing area. A clearance of 12 feet from a sideline to any fixed object is recommended. If structures are located between two courts, they should be placed within 12 feet of the net line and at least 10 feet from a sideline. Players are more likely to see and be aware of a structure located on the long side of the court toward the middle than they are of something located behind the baseline. In all cases, however, observe the rules, and if in doubt, allow more rather than less space.

Basketball Courts: According to rules set forth by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), “any obstruction including seated team bench personnel shall be at least two meters from the playing court.” (Two meters is 6.56 feet).

Volleyball Courts: Outside the playing lines of a volleyball court is an area known as the “free zone.” The space can vary according to the type of play, but in many cases has a recommended minimum width of 2 meters.

Sports Fields: To a certain extent, the space around a sports field is determined by the sport itself and the level of play. In addition, many fields have multiple uses, and that can further confuse the issue of an appropriate safety zone, outside of which shade shelters may be placed. If you’re planning on adding a structure near a sports field (or any other multi-purpose facility), ask the advice of a specialty contractor with expertise in that sport.

 Made In The Shade

As the shade-structure industry continues to evolve, it will provide even more items specifically designed for sports. These structures, whether tents, buildings, or something else, often feature places to store equipment, as well as having amenities like water fountains and outlets, room for coolers, trash receptacles, and more. There are even misting tents for races, triathlons, and other events, where a participant may have crossed the finish line in an overheated state.

Sun-worship is still alive and well, but SPF is being sought too. Plan for both ends of the spectrum, and you’ll have it made in the shade.

Mary Helen Sprecher has been a technical writer for more than 20 years with the American Sports Builders Association. She has written on various topics relating to sports facility design, construction and supply, as well as sports medicine, education, and health and industrial issues. She is an avid racquetball and squash player, and a full-time newspaper reporter in Baltimore, Md.

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