A sports person’s practice, training, and dedication are some of the most significant contributors to their performance. However, facilities used by the said sportspersons can affect their performance mainly if they do not have access to the required facilities. The different types of sports usually need different facilities and multiple sports surfaces which in the long run can be expensive to install and maintain. Because of this, the all-weather MUGA pitches have become extremely popular due to the multiple uses that the pitches are used for.
What Is A MUGA Pitch?
MUGA pitches have been in existence for quite some time now. The first memorable instance of the use of artificial grass was in 1965 during a major league baseball game that involved the Houston Astros baseball team. Since then, the use and design of all-weather MUGA pitches have continued to evolve. MUGA is an acronym for “multi-use game area,” and they are pitches which are used for different types of sporting activities such as tennis, football, rugby and many more. A MUGA pitch is a type of pitch that has been constructed using artificial grass and then customized to include the markings and turf of the particular game on which the pitch is laid on. There are different types of MUGA pitches available in the market. MUGA pitches were ideally created as an alternative to the more expensive high maintenance natural grass. This is because MUGA pitches aid institutions, communities and even sports facilities optimize on limited budgets and spaces as they can use the same pitch for different sporting activities. The type of MUGA that can be installed for a sport is dependent on the guidelines that have been provided by the specific sport’s governing body. Installing a MUGA pitch requires expertise and should be done by a certified professional otherwise it would result in players getting harmed in one way or the other.
Types of MUGA Pitches and Their Construction
Choosing a MUGA field is not a daunting task as there are less than ten different types of MUGA pitches available in the market. Each pitch is defined by the materials used to construct the pitch, the fencing, the finish, and any other stipulated guidelines. The pitches include:
- Type 1: This pitch is ideally meant for sports such as basketball and tennis where the ball is expected to rebound. Type 1 MUGA is constructed using a porous macadam that is frost resistant and open graded. Two layers of the macadam material will be placed atop a freed draining stone then eventually the markings are painted on the pitch’s surface to define the different sports courts. The logic behind having two layers for the macadam material is that one layer will ideally be the binding base offering stability and strength while the other later will be the playing layer. Should you wish to do so, you can have an anti-slip coating applied in the color of your choice.
- Type 2: Just like type one, the type 2 pitch is also constructed similarly. The key difference between these two pitches is the sport played on it. While this pitch can be used for the same sport as the Type 1 Muga, netball is the main sport played on the pitch. It is important to note however that both Type 1 and Type 2 Muga pitches are adaptable for wheelchair sports.
- Type 3: The Type 3 Muga pitch consists of a polymeric surface with a very high grip. The polymer used in the construction of this MUGA pitch is usually constructed using EPDM and/or SBR rubber granules which are bound together with slip-resistant materials and a polyurethane binder. When this process has been completed, the resulting mixture is then laid out onto a macadam surface. Because it is designed to provide slipping resistance, Type 3 MUGA pitch is suitable for sporting activities that do not require a lot of contact such as athletics. You have probably seen this MUGA before in an arena near you, and they are typically installed in the colors green and red. Type 3 is also characterized by increased surface friction and reduced shock absorbance.
- Type 4: Best suited for recreational use and sports such as 5-a-side football, basketball and some bits of athletics, unlike Type 3, Type 4 is characterized by reduced abrasion and increased shock absorbency. It is constructed using the same polymeric structure of Type 3 MUGAs but lacks the high grip finish. It is also available in various colours.
- Type 5: Also known as artificial 2G turf, Type 5 MUGA is a pitch constructed from synthetic turf consisting of sand infilled artificial grass. Typically used for sports that have a lot of body contact, such as lacrosse, uni-hockey rugby, and football as it has been designed to replicate the characteristics and bounce of actual turf. The Type 5 Muga pitch protects players from injuries that may occur as a result of tripping or falling. This is because the pitch has an insulating shock pad installed underneath it to lessen the impact of falls. The synthetic fibres of this pitch are typically infilled with sand and are ideally 20-25mm high. The major difference between this MUGA pitch and all the previously mentioned pitches is that the Type 5 pitch is extremely high maintenance. To retain the condition and character of the pitch, the infilled sand must be topped up occasionally, and you will also need to brush it regularly.
- Type 6: This pitch is similar to Type 5 with the key difference being that the shock pad has been removed on this MUGA. This MUGA is typically not recommended by a majority of sports’ governing bodies because of the higher likelihood in the occurrence of injuries. While the lack of a shock pad offers the pitch extra stability and bounce, it violates regulations.
- Type 7: This MUGA is usually constructed from sand dressed synthetic fibres as opposed to infilled synthetic fibre. It is ideal for sports such as hockey and cricket however it would not be suited for other sports as it wears and tears much quicker than other types of MUGAs and there is also the likelihood of the pitch moving.
- Type 8: Also known as the third-generation turf, this MUGA is typically filled with both rubber and sand and features long-piled artificial fibre. The addition of the rubber crumb to this type of MUGA is what makes it even more superior and ideal for contact sports such as rugby. However, just like the Type 7 MUGA, this pitch is super high maintenance and requires players to wear proper rugby and football boots to curb damage on the pitch. It also needs regular brushing to maintain the correct levels of the rubber crumb infill.
- Type 9: Probably one of the most adaptable MUGAs in the market, the Type 9 MUGA lives up to the multi-use nature of the all-weather MUGA carpets. Football, hockey, netball, and tennis are just but a few of the sports that can be played on the needle punch carpet MUGAs. Made from synthetic grass, the Type 9 can be bonded to existing surfaces and installed with or without a shock pad.
Benefits of all-weather (MUGA) training pitches for professional sports teams.
All weather MUGA pitches have so many advantages for professional sports teams which would explain their increasing popularity and use in sports. Some of the benefits of the MUGA pitches include but are not limited to:
- They are an all-weather surface; probably the most obvious of advantages, the fact that the pitches can be used regardless of whether it rains or shines. MUGA pitches are typically free draining and are not prone to waterlogging. This is because the backing of the pitch is usually perforated which means that if there were a downpour, the water would drain out and there will be no water puddles. Because of this, the pitch can be used by players and their teams all year long despite the season.
- The MUGA pitches are friendly to the environment; During the dry seasons, the pitch does not get patchy or brown. It also does not need pesticides or manure for maintenance. What this means is that the pitch consumes very little water and no chemicals to ensure that it maintains its green colour. Institutions with MUGA pitches can control their water consumptions and reduce the introduction of toxins that could potentially cause harm to the environment and players of professional sports teams.
- MUGA pitches feel and look natural; when they were first invented, MUGA pitches were incredibly unrealistic. This has changed over time thanks to the evolution in technology which has improved the quality, look and feel of all-weather MUGA pitches. The advances in technology mean that the replication of the bounce and shock absorption of an actual field is achievable. Because of the consistency in the manufacture of the pitches, the all-weather pitches have a reliable ball roll and bounce that has helped advance the capabilities of players and teams.
- All-weather MUGA pitches have resulted in the lessening of injuries among players; thanks to the foam underlays that are placed on MUGA pitches, the impact experienced by players when they trip or fall is not as career-threatening as it was before. This is because the foam shock pads absorb much of the impact, keeping the players’ injury free and in excellent physical condition. Both the teams and players are shielded from crippling circumstances that may occur if a player got injured.
- In comparison to actual grass fields, the all-weather pitches are low maintenance. Aside from the regular brushing and infill refilling, there aren’t any intensive procedures required for MUGA pitches. Trimming, aerating and mowing are all things of the past since the all-weather pitches do not require any of it. This reduction in maintenance means that professional sports teams and players get to use their pitches throughout the season except for when they have away games. There is a lot of comfort and confidence that comes to teams and players when they are playing their opponents on familiar grounds.
- The pitches can be designed and constructed to suit a team’s needs; if a team, for example, performs better when they are using pitches with specific conditions, then it is possible to have the pitch built as per the team’s requirements as long as they are in line with the regulations of the governing body.
- Lastly, the all-weather pitches can endure severe usage and exploitation. They can also be custom fitted to small spaces. Instead of a team’s resources being diverted into maintaining real turf, the finances can be allocated to cater to some of the other needs that a team may have.
Maintaining All Weather (MUGA) Pitches
Maintaining the all-weather pitches is effortless and inexpensive. To maintain the MUGAs, it is essential that the debris and dirt that tends to accumulate on the surfaces are washed away now and then. The free-draining porous surfaces also need to be cleaned with a product that can kill moss. Lastly, paint and repaint the line marking and remember that the synthetic grass has to be brushed to raise the flat areas of the surface and simultaneously redistribute the infills on the artificial turf.
A lot has changed since the invention of the first all-weather MUGA pitch, and as technology continues to evolve, we are likely to witness even more change happening as far as the construction of these pitches goes. Sports professionals have for a long time enjoyed the benefits of MUGA pitches as they make available optimal playing properties that have proved to be good for both individual and team performance. Today, MUGA pitches can be found universities, colleges, schools, public parks and many other places which means that individuals, who develop an interest in a sport can begin preparing and establishing themselves for when they join a professional sporting team. This means that individuals with aspirations of becoming professional sportspersons are not as naïve and clueless about how to interact with the pitch. MUGA pitches are a smart use of space, and their versatility eliminates the repetitive nature of single games in real turfs.