When thinking about what factors are essential for winning a game, what do you think comes up most often? People will probably mention practise and fitness levels, but pitch maintenance is probably just as important as these two things. If players don’t have a good, safe surface to play on, they’re not going to be doing their best. It’s possible that a poorly maintained pitch could stop players from reaching their full potential and, in a worst case scenario, it could even cause injury.

Performance and Maintenance Correlation: The Facts

Research carried out by the University of Loughborough in 2010 indicates that there is a strong correlation between pitch maintenance and sports performance levels. It comes down to the following points:

  • Lack of maintenance causes sports pitches to become harder and, therefore, more difficult to play on
  • When tests were carried out, statistically, players performed less well when on pitches which had been poorly maintained
  • Additionally, pitches which are not properly maintained, also end up costing more money in the long run

These three points convey the findings of the University of Loughborough in as succinct a way as possible. Naturally, there’s a lot more to it which can only really be garnered by reading it for yourself.

Artificial Pitches and Maintenance

Some teams opt for artificial pitches because of the fact that they require less maintenance. While this might sound like an appealing option to those who have less time and resources to dedicate to maintenance, this might still have a negative effect on player performance.

Though often convenient, artificial pitches are not popular among players. Reasons for this include the fact that:

  • Artificial pitches tend to be much harder than natural ones
  • Players tend to sustain more painful injuries on artificial pitches

These two factors are going to have a significant impact upon player performance levels. Of course, pitches (and their maintenance) are not the only factor at play when it comes to the performance of a football team, but it is a significant one.

The Ins and Outs of Pitch Maintenance

Pitch maintenance is an extensive and difficult task. Knowing that it is a vital part of player performance, it could therefore seem quite a daunting task to some teams. However, there are sports facility maintenance services available which take on the brunt of the responsibility. They will take one of two main approaches to pitch maintenance:

  • Proactive Maintenance: This is where work is done to assure that damage is not done to the pitch during the course of regular play
  • Reactive Maintenance: This is the word used to describe maintenance work which is carried out in response to damage which is done to a pitch due to regular wear and tear

The proactive approach will require more work than the reactive, although it will also significantly reduce the risk of excessive damage to pitches. Different teams will have different budgets and so which approach they adopted will depend upon that.

It is undeniable that a pitch’s surface will have an impact on the performance of the players. It’s an important factor, but one which is forgotten fairly often. Keeping these factors in mind will help you to better determine the outcome of games. Which games can you think of where the outcome was likely determined by the pitch that it was played on?