I bet you never thought that something as simple as the turf can cause a dramatic change in the game of field hockey. Most field hockey players absolutely hate playing on a grass field because most times the grass can be thick and the ground can be bumpy. Both of these conditions slow the game down which is not necessarily a bad thing; however, it is more fun to play a faster pace game. Field turf is more acceptable to play on because even though it mimics grass it is not as thick and the ball can travel faster. A fast field hockey game is more challenging to play because you have to make faster decisions. Also, playing on different types of turf causes the game to be played slightly different. The rules don’t change, but the strategy to win might. If you play on a slower surface, you might put more of an emphasis on passing the ball to each other versus trying to utilize breakaways all the time.
Astro turf is the faster surface to play field hockey on. The most common types of astro turf are sand-based turf and water-based turf. Water-based turf is more maintenance compared to sand-based astro turf because the field has to be wetted before use. Typically, they use giant sprinklers to spray water across the field. Turf burn hurts the same amount regardless of which kind of turf you fall on; I know from experience because I have fallen on both types of turf. I don’t really have a preference for either turf, but sand-based astro turf typically wears my stick down quicker because the sand and astro turf combined acts like sand paper against my stick.
I love getting the opportunity to play on any kind of astro turf because I am able to focus more on the strategy of field hockey versus the technical skill of how to get the ball to where I want it to go. As I have mentioned before I have been able to travel to Argentina to play field hockey. Most every club team there has an astro field to play on which is nice for them because they can develop high level skills quicker. For example, they were much better at drag flicking which is a very hard shot at the goal in comparison to American players. It also helps that they typically start playing field hockey at a younger age.
In the picture on the left, my teammates are playing on field turf, but in the picture on the right my teammates are playing on water-based astro turf. In the picture at the top of this page, the goalies are practicing on sand-based astro turf.