How much use can a pitch take?

A natural grass pitch can sustain many hours of use providing it is properly managed and maintained. The playability/reliability of a pitch depends on many factors but the key ones are listed below:

  • The management of the pitch
  • Maintenance of the pitch
  • The type of pitch construction e.g pipe drained or pipe drained with sand grooves. See Natural Turf for Sport for an explanation of the different types of pitch construction
  • The physical characteristics and soil profile of the pitch
  • The type of use e.g. competition or training
  • Other non-sport use
  • Adult or junior use. As a rule of thumb the usage will increase by approximately 50% for players 15 years of age and under
  • The prevailing weather conditions.
Management of the pitch

To obtain the maximum use from any pitch it is essential that its use is properly managed by the groundsman and other club officials and coaches. This means careful planning and an understanding by everyone that good management will make a big difference. The list below provides some ideas of good management principles for everyone to adopt:

  • Ensure that pitches and training areas are not overplayed
  • Don’t always use the pitch or area of pitch that is easiest to get to
  • When training on a pitch move the training sessions into different areas and try to avoid high wear areas
  • Don’t train on a pitch if the conditions mean that it will damage the playing surface to such an extent that it cannot recover during the season. This approach can make a big difference.
Maintenance of the pitch

Without proper maintenance most playing surfaces will quickly deteriorate It is the maintenance throughout the year i.e. in the closed season as well as during the playing season that makes a difference. The sections on tasks and equipment and seasonal management for each sport sets out what may be required.

Typical hours of use

Based upon the combination of the above factors a rough guide is that a properly managed and maintained pipe drained pitch can sustain 2-3 hours of adult use and similarly a pipe drained pitch with sand grooves can sustain between 3-6 hours of adult use. The wide variation in pitch capacity reflects the impact of different levels of maintenance and specific site conditions. 

By observing how the pitch performs and understanding how the pitch will be used means that the local groundsman, with the help of other advisors, will form an opinion of the specific capacity of each pitch.

Who can help?

For further advice on pitch capacity go the module Further help guidance and training.