SportSurf Continues to Educate

Laurence Gale MScin Training & Education
sports surf 1 Since its inaugural meeting in November 2005 SportSurf has strived to increase the general awareness of its work in the sports surface industry.

SportSurf is an academic research network set up to discuss and debate the many aspects of sports surfaces, including their design, materials, sustainability, play performance and effects on end users.

The network aims to stimulate an integrated multidisciplinary research response to address the problems associated with the interactions of sport players and the sport surfaces, for community and elite level across the full range of sports. The network is trying to bring together a broad range of stakeholders, comprising academics, practitioners, and sport governing bodies to share ideas and consolidate current knowledge, discuss and formulate research needs for the provision and maintenance of sports facilities.

SportSurf have promoted three well-attended, informative seminars that have given the opportunity for non-academics (Service providers. Contractors and Practitioners) to see and hear at first hand what new research and development (R&D) is going on in the Academic Institutions/Universities around the world.

Their 3rd workshop at the University of Exeter in November focused on the biomechanics of sports surfaces. The title of the workshop was 'Player-Surface Interactions: Biomechanical Studies'. There was a keynote presentation by Dr Darren Stefanyshyn from the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Calgary.

Other presentations were given by delegates active in biomechanics research. These included the following: -

  • Player/Surface Interactions - Injury and Performance - Dr Darren Stefanyshyn
  • Shoe-Surface Interaction in Tennis - Daniella Strauss
  • Biomechanics of Running on Artificial Turf - Dr Kenneth Meijer
  • Experimental Research on Ground Reaction Forces- Rudy Verhelst
  • Biomechanical and Mechanical Testing of Playing Surfaces - Dr Sharon Dixon and Dr Victoria Stiles
Several key points emerged from the workshop which are briefly summarised below:

  • There is a lack of comprehensive injury studies
  • Body measurements can be related to injury
  • Biomechanical measurements are showing deficiencies in mechanical tests
  • New tests are needed, more player/shoe/surface oriented with appropriate loading/activity conditions
  • Many variables, and biomechanical experimental programmes are relatively complex and need to be normalised in some way.
  • Extensive injury related study needed (prospective as opposed to retrospective?)
sports surfHaving attended all three workshops I have found them to be very interesting and rewarding, there is plenty of opportunity to debate and discuss issues with both presenters and attendees.

However, I believe and indeed so does Dr Paul Fleming, who co ordinates and promotes Sportsurf, that there should be more practicing Groundsmen and facility managers attending these workshops. Clearly there are benefits for both parties to become more integrated. The input of practicing experts can only benefit future R&D in the provision, maintenance and management of both natural and artificial playing surfaces.

SportSurf are organising another workshop on April 4th at Sheffield University, with their first conference at Loughborough University on 17/18th September.

Full details of the conference including registration information, venue, keynote presentations, important dates and other useful information are available on their website
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