Evaluation of Soccer Fields for Turf Standards

Dr. Grady L. Miller

Soccer ball reactions and player performance are dependent on an athletic field’s surface uniformity, smoothness, and hardness. This research was undertaken to provide objective quantitative values of athletic field performance. A Clegg Impact Soil Tester was used to evaluate surface hardness at 80 specific locations on two soccer fields on a monthly basis and three other fields twice annually. Soccer ball roll and deflection distances were measured using a Soccer Field Gauge at eight locations on each field. College and professional soccer team members were surveyed to correlate performance data to player perspective. Significant differences were noted within and between fields. Low-maintenance native soil fields had significant variation in hardness and ball roll uniformity. Uniformity on sand-based fields was high but hardness in areas of high traffic could be mapped using these methods. Fields with a hardness reading between 90 and 120 (gmax) and a ball roll distance between 8 and 12 m generally could not be differentiated by players. These evaluation techniques proved to be useful for determining areas that require aerification to alleviate surface hardness as well as determining field consistency.