Marking Fields For Functionality

Dan Wright of Sports Turf in Whitesburg, Ga., notes, “There are really two options to lining a natural-turf field: the old method of chalk and/or the method of painting. Using chalk to mark a football field is still the method for most recreational and high-school natural-turf fields. However, some fields have painted lines so they will last longer. In either way, as the turf grows and fields are mowed, the lines have a tendency to fade. Chalk usually will not kill the grass, whereas painting a field will have a tendency to kill the grass or thin it out over time.”

Synthetic-turf fields are a different animal entirely. They don’t grow, so managers often will have lines permanently installed. But, says Wright, the age-old problem remains–the more sports being played, “The more confusing the field gets.”

Solving The Identity Crisis

There are several ways to address the problems, no matter whether the fields are natural or synthetic turf. First, there’s the priority method. Decide which sport each facility will host most often. That sport then is designated the “primary,” and those playing lines should be marked in the brightest color. The primary field colors are typically white and yellow if there are two sports on the field, such as football and soccer.

“If this approach is taken,” Conway notes, “then the ‘secondary’ sports typically receive muted line colors, such as blue or brown. Another option for field lines is, instead of providing all the permanent field lines for a sport, provide limited field markings, or ‘points’ inlaid into the field that will facilitate string lining for temporary field-striping. This is a good compromise that makes marking of the field easier but does not have permanent field lines for the entire sport.”

There’s also the color method: Wright recommends using different colors for each sport. In general, he adds, specific colors tend to be chosen: “For instance, most football fields are marked using white markings and lines. For soccer on the same field, yellow lines and center circle are used, and for lacrosse, blue lines and markings. If women’s field hockey is also played, then red lines are typically used.”

The field also must allow for flexibility in terms of sports equipment, Conway adds. “Something to consider in a multiuse field are the in-ground furnishings for a given sport. For example, football goal posts, baseball bases and netting poles are typically in-ground components. In a multiuse field, these furnishings are usually sleeved into permanent footings, so they can be removed and a cover can be installed over the foundation to allow for play of another sport.”

A field that is to host multiple sports must be built to the standards of the governing body for the sport(s) requiring the largest possible space. For example, if a field will host football (which has a standard length of 360 feet and a standard width of 160 feet), as well as field hockey (300 feet long and 180 feet wide), the field must be, at a minimum, large enough to satisfy the standard length for football and the standard width for field hockey. (Note: Dimensions are set by the governing bodies for sports at various levels; always check to make sure you are working with the most up-to-date set of rules prior to beginning construction or marking.)

In addition, there’s more than just the space defined by the playing lines to consider. Minimum safety zones must always exist beyond the dimensions of the largest playing field. No matter how many lines a field has, after all, the bottom line is that everyone is safe.

Note: The American Sports Builders Association (ASBA) is a non-profit association helping designers, builders, owners, operators and users understand quality sports- facility construction. For more information, call (866) 501-ASBA (2722), or visit www.sportsbuilders.org.

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, 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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Related posts:

  1. Striping For Several Sports
  2. Spring Training For Fields
  3. Synthetic Turf Performance Guidelines
  4. Synthetic Turf Fields Save the Day
  5. Planning For Flexibility

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