Artificial Turf Hockey Pitches

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.

We have built numerous synthetic turf hockey pitches to National and Global Standards for clients including Reading Hockey Club, Eton College and The University of Cambridge.

Read on to learn more about our exceptional field hockey pitches or get in touch to discuss your project.

Hockey pitch construction

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:

  • Water-based hockey pitches (FIH Global / England Hockey Category 1)
  • Sand-dressed hockey pitches (FIH National / England Hockey Category 2)
  • Sand-filled hockey pitches (FIH National / Multi-sport and England Hockey Category 3

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.

Call or email for an informal chat about your new hockey pitch.

The longest-serving FIH Certified Field Builder


S&C Slatter were proud to become the world's first FIH Certified Field builder in 2016, as part of the International Hockey Federation (FIH)'s quality programme for hockey. We have been delighted to be re-certified each year since, delivering FIH Certified Fields across the country for schools, clubs and universities. In fact, we've delivered more hockey pitches to the elite level (FIH Global Certified Fields) in the UK than any other contractor.


Synthetic hockey pitch refurbishment


As well as the construction of new build facilities, S&C Slatter are experienced in undertaking pitch refurbishment for clients whose hockey pitch has come to the end of its useful life. Refurbishment is less costly than a new build, with most of the infrastructure already in place, and generally consists of the removal and upgrade of the synthetic turf system and pitch shock pad.

Prior to the need for refurbishment, our dedicated maintenance division experts are on hand to maximise the lifespan, quality and performance of your pitch. Whether it be routine maintenance to comply with manufacturer warranty, or a deep clean designed to extend the lifespan of your pitch, our team will help you get the most from your synthetic hockey pitch.

How to build a sand-dressed, water-based or sand-filled hockey pitch

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.

4. Earthworks
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.

7. Shockpad
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.

What is a synthetic hockey pitch?

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:

  • Sand-dressed
  • Water-based
  • Sand-filled

The base and infill on pitches varies and the pile (grass) length is usually relatively short, depending on the infill or turf system used.

What’s the difference between a sand-dressed, water-based and sand-filled hockey pitch?

The main difference between these surfaces is the combination of carpet and infill – or lack thereof - in the artificial 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

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 hockey pitches

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.

 

Sand-filled hockey pitches

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.

What’s the difference between a 2G, 3G and 4G hockey pitch?


You may also see hockey pitches referred to as 2G pitches, which tends to be in reference to the generation of technology in the world of artificial turf as a whole. 2G Pitches include sand-dressed and sand-filled surfaces.

3G Pitches are not suitable for hockey use, due to the long pile length, which are instead more suited for Football and Rugby. England Hockey has stated that 3G pitches can only be used for introductory level hockey – and only when no other surface is available.

The FIH is working towards identifying a water-free synthetic turf for global hockey, due to environmental concerns and the cost of irrigation systems required for water-based surfaces. This technology is emerging, and is sometimes referred to as ‘4G’. No non-water, non-filled hockey pitches have been developed to pass the safety and performance tests laid out by FIH as of yet.

When considering what technology you need for a new hockey pitch, it’s best to refer to the pitch type instead – sand-dressed, water-based or sand-filled.

You can browse a variety of hockey pitch types we have delivered for clients in our hockey pitch construction case studies.

How much does it cost to build a hockey pitch?

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:

  • The overall size of the pitch
  • Scope of groundworks required
  • Chosen irrigation system
  • Chosen base, sub-base and shock pad
  • Chosen artificial turf system based on needs and standards (e.g. FIH Global Elite, FIH Global, FIH National)
  • Environmental mitigation methods
  • Floodlighting, fencing and equipment requirements

 

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.

How long does it take to build a synthetic hockey Pitch?


As with any construction project, the longest part of the process will often be taking the project through the design and planning stage.

Once planning is granted and the construction programme agreed, the typical length of time on-site to construct a new synthetic hockey pitch is generally 12 – 14 weeks.

What funding is available for a hockey pitch construction?

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.

What are the benefits of a water-based hockey pitch over a sand-dressed or sand-filled pitch?

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.

How long does a synthetic hockey pitch last for?

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.

 

How do you maintain a hockey pitch?

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.

Find out more about the types of maintenance synthetic surfaces require or call us to discuss your maintenance needs.

Are sand-dressed hockey pitches FIH and England Hockey approved?

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.

 

Are water-based hockey pitches FIH and England Hockey approved?

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.

 

Are sand-filled hockey pitches FIH and England Hockey approved?

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.

How is a hockey pitch FIH certified?

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.  

What hockey pitches are allowed in the England Hockey League Premier Division?

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.”

Hockey Pitches constructed by S&C Slatter

As the very first contractors to be recognised globally as FIH Certified Field Builders, S&C Slatter are experienced in the construction of sand-dressed, water-based and sand-filled synthetic hockey pitches, to FIH National, Global, and Global Elite performance standards.

We have constructed pitches for universities, schools, professional and semi-professional clubs, including Reading Hockey Club, Eton College and The University of Warwick.

If you have any further questions on synthetic hockey pitches, please get in touch.

For more information call 01635 34521 or email enquiries@slattersportsconstruction.com