Developing turf with PSV: testing is underway!
Together with PSV Eindhoven’s Herdgang Academy, the TenCate Grass Centre for Turf Innovation (CTI) improves synthetic turf systems.
Several different types of innovative turf system have been installed at the Herdgang, the Dutch Premier League club PSV’s academy, in recent years. The training facility has a full range of high-quality surfaces including hybrid, natural and synthetic turf systems. These include multiple woven systems, such as the GreenFields MX Elite, GreenFields MX NF (non-filled) and the natural-hybrid XtraGrass. Additional at the centre is a ‘FieldLab’ section, comprising three test areas for next generation surfaces and innovative solutions including new shockpads, infills and turf systems.
Comparing surfaces to better understand player-surface interaction
Tom Wills, a TenCate Grass Research Associate, studies these football surfaces to better understand player-surface interactions. Tom and his colleagues from the Centre for Turf Innovation of TenCate Grass have designed and use unique equipment to evaluate the surfaces and players. This equipment is flexible and can be used outside of the normal laboratory environment, allowing the players to perform their skills in a more natural setting and provide better quality research data. This research is ongoing over several years and the surfaces will be changed on a regular basis as part of the innovation process.
Meaningful insights from initial testing
Tom explains: “The first phase of testing is already giving us some fascinating insights. One of the research methods we use is accurately measuring player kinematics by high-speed video analysis.
In recent years, research on non-filled pitches showed that some players were concerned about grip levels being low in some conditions. That’s why TenCate Grass started testing this intensively to understand the more fundamental factor impacting grip / traction. The feedback is gathered on a range of surfaces including the latest versions of our non-filled turf system to see how changing the surface design can improve its performance.
With the latest non-filled turf installed at our FieldLab at PSV Academy the Herdgang, we started comparing its grip with natural turf and traditional rubber filled turf systems. One of our interesting initial findings is that our new non-filled system (GreenFields MX NF) is much closer in kinematic performance and player feedback to good quality natural turf than traditional rubber filled surfaces. This was found for several key playing movements including sprint starts, 90 and 180 degree turns and cuts at maximal speeds.”
Dr. Colin Young, Research and Development Director of TenCate Grass, explains: “Our research partnership with PSV helps us to further improve synthetic turf systems by learning from the elite players, coaches and technical staff. Besides thoroughly analysing player-surface interaction, we also listen to the players’ honest feedback to support the development of future systems. As this first phase of research continues we have already learnt a lot and we are only just starting and can’t wait to learn more.
Improving the playability of non-filled turf, and indeed systems without rubber [microplastic] infills, is part of our larger vision for the future of synthetic surfaces. We believe that making synthetic turf more sustainable whilst improvement the playing experience is of vital importance. In addition to the player focus we are also working hard on modifying our systems to reduce environmental impact with such initiatives as 1DNA products which are designed to recycle and improve circularity. Designing to recycle means we can capture and reuse high value materials and subsequently minimise the need for new raw material for the next generation of turf systems. Non-filled solutions provide a good pathway towards these goals using only significantly less initial ‘mass’ than that of a traditional filled system. Furthermore, our woven process doesn’t require the same degree of coating to fix the fibres into the turf as traditional turfing, which allows us to innovative more solutions on the turf system.
We have many more paths that we are following to push the developments in synthetic surfaces in terms of sustainability and playability, we will share more information on this page soon”.