S&C Slatter are recognised leaders in artificial turf hockey pitch construction. Our team is highly experienced in the design, construction and maintenance of sand-dressed, water-based and sand-filled artificial turf hockey pitches. We are recognised by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) and hold FIH Certified Field Builder status.
Read on to learn more about our exceptional field hockey pitches or get in touch to discuss your project.
Proud to be the world's first, and now longest-serving, FIH Certified Field Builders, S&C Slatter work in exclusive partnership with FIH Preferred Producers, FieldTurf, world leading artificial turf manufacturers.
Working to our clients' requirements, we construct:
With over 30 years’ expertise in synthetic hockey pitch construction, we are always keen to discuss new projects and are happy to offer a free initial consultation.
In the construction of a synthetic hockey field, there are nine key stages – it’s not just about the playing surface! Hockey pitch construction stages include:
1. Design and planning
Designing the new hockey facility, obtaining planning permission, creating technical drawings and specifications ready for construction.
2. Environmental considerations
This can include management of water run-off and drainage – particularly for water-based pitches - mitigating the impact of the new facility and considering overspill from floodlighting.
3. Health and safety
Creating a safe and thoroughly planned construction site that employs best practice and meets all legislative requirements.
Properly prepared foundations are crucial to the performance of any new hockey pitch.
5. Drainage and irrigation
Appropriate drainage systems ensure that whatever the weather, the artificial hockey pitch doesn’t become waterlogged. A non-fill water based pitch would require an irrigation system, in order deliver the quantity of water required to the pitch before games and during half time.
6. Sub-base and base
Carefully chosen materials support the chosen artificial turf system and free drainage of the pitch.
Depending on your artificial turf system, a shockpad may be employed to meet safety requirements and enhance performance standards.
8. Artificial turf system
This is the part of the pitch you actually see – the artificial grass itself, often referred to as astro turf or the ‘carpet’ on a hockey pitch.
9. Ancillary equipment
This includes additional requirements for an FIH certified hockey pitch, such as appropriate fencing, floodlighting and goalposts – as well as project specific requirements such as team shelters, pavilions and car parks.
More detailed information can be found on our Artificial Sports Turf Pitches page.
Synthetic hockey pitches are hockey pitches made without the use of natural turf, and have been mandatory at all major hockey competitions since 1976.
Commonly referred to as artificial turf, artificial grass or astro turf, pitches are constructed with "grass" produced using man-made, artificial fibres.
The three main types of artificial hockey pitch are:
The base and infill on pitches varies and the pile (grass) length is usually relatively short, depending on the infill or turf system used.
They key difference between sand-dressed, water-based and sand-filled hockey pitches is the level of play and performance standard you can achieve.
For the majority of applications, a sand-dressed pitch will be suitable, allowing for national, regional and club level performance. If you’re looking to build a pitch to Global or Global Elite level, you’ll need to construct a water-based pitch.
Sand-dressed hockey pitches are the most popular surface type in the UK. These surfaces are suitable for regional and club level performance and are popular with clubs, schools and universities - and are suitable for low level national play.
Sand-dressed pitches tend to have shorter fibres than sand-filled pitches, with sand utilised as an infill that supports part of the pile depth.
Sand is used as an infill material to both stabilise the fibres and provide a consistent playing surface.
Water-based pitches are required for hockey played in international competition, such as for the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and FIH World Cup. Often referred to as ‘non-filled’, water-based surfaces require no infill but must be regularly watered to retain optimum playing standards.
Water-based surfaces have densely packed, short artificial fibres. The water reduces friction, allowing for a faster game while ensuring player safety. Irrigation systems are built into the pitch to allow for quick and efficient watering before games and during half-time where required.
Like sand-dressed pitches, sand-filled pitches utilise sand as an infill material.
Sand-filled pitches are less densely packed however, with longer fibres and sand supporting the fibres for 100% of the pile depth.
Sand-filled pitches are less commonly built specifically for hockey. They are considered a more multi-sport friendly surface, that supports the play of hockey.
Get in touch with our experts to discuss the best surface for your needs.
Water-based hockey pitches cost more than sand-dressed or sand-filled hockey pitches, due to the irrigation system and advanced technology used to meet elite performance standards.
Under the most recent Sport England facility cost figures, the average cost for a brand-new water-based hockey pitch is £935,000 (including fencing and lighting). Sand-dressed pitches currently cost £830,000 on average and sand-filled hockey pitches £785,000 on average – both figures again including lighting and fencing.
In reality, regardless of the pitch type, the overall cost will vary depending on a number of additional factors, and can be between £450,000 – £1m.
These factors include:
Beyond the construction of the pitch itself, additional work is often required in the form of ancillary equipment (team shelters, pavilions, spectator areas) and civil engineering (access pathways, hard standings, roadways and car parks), so this may need to be factored into your costs.
For example, the construction of a new water-based pitch with floodlighting, perimeter fencing, team shelters and equipment, tested to FIH Global standard may cost in the region of £1m in total.
The cost for hockey pitch refurbishment is significantly lower, due to much of the infrastructure (foundations, floodlighting, civil engineering) often already being in place. For example, the average cost of resurfacing a water-based hockey pitch, including shockpad, is £250,000.
Please get in touch if you’d like an example of a detailed breakdown of project costs, or a quote on the cost of building a hockey pitch based on your requirements.
Beyond funding the construction of an artificial pitch privately or through capital expenditure, there are a number of funding options available to hockey clubs and schools.
Hockey clubs that are strongly beneficial to the local community may wish to consider applying for funding from Sport England’s Community Asset fund.
If you’re not eligible for Sport England funding, private funding options may be preferable, such as operating leases. You can find out more on our funding page, or by checking out our recent work with the John Madejski Academy, who utilised an operating lease to fund their 3G artificial turf pitch, offsetting the cost with pitch hire.
The key benefits of a water-based hockey pitch would be apparent at elite levels of hockey performance, such as the level of play achievable on the pitch. A smoother and faster game, water-based pitches allow for ‘aerial tricks’ and ‘3D play’ that are harder to achieve (but not impossible) on a sand-dressed or sand-filled pitch.
With no infill on a water-based pitch, performance and safety is not reliant upon maintaining appropriate infill levels, with water instead providing the optimum playing surface, protecting players from the carpet fibres. However, it is important that maintenance is undertaken on a regular basis to ensure that the surface is kept free of debris and detritus, and to keep the fibres upright and prevent slippery moss from forming.
Sand-dressed pitches are the most popular type of hockey pitch however, so unless an elite global competition is taking place, sand-dressed pitches are suitable for the majority of hockey applications and will support community to national level play.
As an England Hockey Category 1 pitch, water-based pitches can be used at all levels of Hockey, and can be tested to achieve FIH Global and FIH Global Elite (if constructed within a stadium) certification.
Sand-dressed pitches are England Hockey Category 2 pitches, and are suitable for England Hockey League Premier Division play. These pitches can be tested to achieve FIH National performance standard.
Sand-filled pitches are England Hockey Category 3 pitches, as they are more suitable for a wide-variety of sports rather than hockey specifically. Depending on construction, these pitches can be tested to achieve FIH National or FIH Multi-sport certification. Sand-filled hockey pitches are not allowed for use in England Hockey League National Premier.
A synthetic turf hockey pitch will generally achieve a lifespan of around 8-10 years, though this will vary based on how well the pitch has been constructed, the weekly hours of usage, type of usage and how well the pitch has been maintained.
Synthetic hockey pitch maintenance is crucial for maximising the lifespan of the pitch, whilst ensuring maximum playability and safety. This is particularly important for retaining any FIH Certifications. A field must be successfully retested at 2-year intervals to retain it’s FIH Certified Field status.
Maintenance can include brushing, decompaction, managing infill levels and moss/weed removal. Improper pitch maintenance can lead to issues with drainage and safety, as well as void any manufacturer warranty you may have.
Sand-dressed hockey pitches are suitable for national play, regional play and club play, e.g. schools and universities. They are an England Hockey Category 2 pitch, and can be tested to achieve International Hockey Federation (FIH) National Certified Field status.
Water-based hockey pitches are suitable for all levels of play. They are an England Hockey Category 1 Pitch, and are the only pitch type that can be tested achieve the International Hockey Federation (FIH)’s Global or Global Elite Certified Field status.
Sand-filled hockey pitches are generally most suitable for basic community, development and introductory level hockey. They are an England Hockey Category 3 pitch, however if designed specifically for hockey use, can be tested to achieve up to International Hockey Federation (FIH) National Certified Field status. Otherwise they may be tested to achieve FIH Multi-Sport Certified Field status.
Achieving FIH Global Elite, Global, National or Multi-Sport certification requires testing upon pitch completion.
New fields that pass the required tests are certified for three years, then must be re-tested at two-year intervals to retain their FIH certification.
We provide clients with a choice of independent third-party testing organisations who are able to carry out these tests and can incorporate this into the cost of the pitch.
The cost of testing is usually between £2000 – £3000.
Due to the rigorous testing procedures the FIH place on manufacturers, hockey pitches cannot achieve FIH Certification if they haven’t been constructed using an artificial turf system from an FIH Preferred Producer, such as from our exclusive partners Fieldturf.
England Hockey state that: “it is strongly recommended that England Hockey League Premier Division and other higher league hockey fixtures and training are played on Category 1 (water-based) and 2 (sand-dressed) pitches.”