About SportSURF


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 will bring together for the first time a broad range of stakeholders, comprising academics, practitioners, and sport governing bodies to share ideas and consolidate current knowledge, discuss and formulate research needs, disseminate the outcomes and seek funding for the long-term benefit of this important topic.


The proposed network is unique in its balance of research and practice, and in its focus on bringing together a broad range of experts with specific intent to advance the science and understanding of player-surface interactions and innovate the better engineering of surfaces to benefit play and users´ health.

The specific objectives of the network are:

  • to create a new interdisciplinary sports surfaces community
  • to host stimulating meetings/workshops open to all interested parties/stakeholders including a new conference dedicated to this subject area
  • to transfer ideas, techniques, models and technology between researchers and practitioners
  • to produce multidisciplinary research proposals
  • to disseminate the network outcomes widely

Three major themes were identified by the ´Surfaces´ focus group that met at the EPSRC workshop ´Thinking About Sport´ at Loughborough University in December 2003. These were:

  • Performance Requirements
  • Integrated Design
  • Longevity/Sustainability

These have since been rationalised into the two criteria of ´User Performance´ and ´Facility Performance´.

To demonstrate the complexity of each criterion, the factors considered to contribute to performance are listed as follows:

For User Performance:

  • Player expectation/requirements
  • Sport type
  • Skill level
  • Play type/motion
  • Shoes/equipment
  • Ball-surface behaviour
  • Biomechanical response
  • Fitness
  • Injury risk

For Surface Performance:

  • Materials (and their interaction)
  • Construction process
  • Quality control
  • Performance tests/standards
  • Proposed use
  • Life/usage
  • Degradation & maintenance effects
  • Sustainability (whole-life cycle)
  • Refurbishment/replacement
  • Climatic factors and irrigation
  • Longevity/monitoring

Core Committee

Network Manager: Dr Paul Fleming

t: +44 (0)1509 222616
e: p.r.fleming@lboro.ac.uk
w: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/abce/staff/paul-fleming/

Dr Paul Fleming, a Senior Lecturer at Loughborough University, has a background that started in the behaviour of geomaterials, particularly in the fields of highway and geotechnical engineering, and more recently has developed several research programmes in sports surface engineering. He is lead investigator on the Sport England funded (with an EPSRC studentship) 'Performance of Artificial Water-Based Hockey Surfaces' (2001-2004, see references) and this, in addition to many smaller MSc projects, has rigorously studied many novel aspects of synthetic pitch design, construction, testing and performance. He is lead supervisor on an industry funded PhD project (2003-2006) investigating outdoor sport surface shockpad behaviour - characterising the influence of the raw recycled rubber and binder and mix designs on both the mechanical and playing performance. He has extensive experience of full-scale fieldwork on both commercial sites and specially built research facilities (and has relevant work experience from the site investigation industry) with a good record of both industry and EPSRC funding. He has published more than 40 academic papers worldwide and successfully supervised many Research Assistants and Research Students. In recognition of this growing reputation in sports engineering he has been an invited speaker at several UK seminars/workshops and chaired panels at international conferences and in 2002 was invited to join the SAPCA Technical Committee as an advisor, and in 2004 to join the BSI committee (PRI/57) currently involved in the preparation of the new European (CEN) Standard for many aspects of sports surfaces. He is a member of the Sports Technology Research Group (STRG) at Loughborough University, the largest of its kind in an academic establishment in Europe and with the most comprehensive facilities in the UK for sport equipment research. Loughborough University is a regional centre for the English Institute of Sport and houses many world-class sports facilities and elite athletes.

Professor Mark Batt

t: +44 (0)115 9709774
e: mark.batt@nottingham.ac.uk
w: https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/medicine/people/mark.batt

Mark is a Consultant and Special Professor in Sports Medicine at the Centre for Sports Medicine at the Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham. His clinical area of expertise is in the area of sports and soft-tissue injury, and illness related to sport and physical activity. He has a busy NHS and limited private practice seeing referrals locally, regionally and nationally. He acts as a physician for The English Institute of Sport, the Rugby Football League and The Wimbledon Tennis Championships. He is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and International Committee Chair of the Board of the American Medical Society for Sports medicine. He has published 37 peer reviewed papers and 7 book chapters. He is Associate Editor for The Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine.

Dr Sharon Dixon

e: S.J.Dixon@exeter.ac.uk
w: http://people.exeter.ac.uk/sjdixon/index_temp.htm

Dr Sharon Dixon is a Senior Lecturer in Biomechanics at the University of Exeter and is director of the Exeter Biomechanics Research Team. Her main research interest is in the mechanisms of overuse injury, with a particular focus on the biomechanics of running. Following Ph.D. research investigating the influence of heel lift devices on the loading of the Achilles tendon (Loughborough University, 1996), Dr Dixon held post-doctoral research positions at the Universities of Nottingham and Calgary. Recent research projects have involved the study of the influence of changes in sports surface cushioning on running biomechanics. Current research projects include the study of: human adaptation to changes in material of the impact interface in running; shoe and surface manipulation on the internal loading of body structures; the use of plantar pressures to predict injury susceptibility; the potential of orthotic devices to reduce injury in military recruits; the influence of different shock-absorbing insoles in combat boots.

Dr Colin Walker

t: +44 (0)141 5482657
e: colin.walker@strath.ac.uk
w: http://www.mecheng.strath.ac.uk/staffprofile.asp?id=85

Colin is a Reader in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Strathclyde University. (Is he still? I can't find him on the Strath website?) He has research interests in the Mechanics of Running, Testing of Sports Surfaces, Design of running shoes and sports surfaces for the reduction of exercise-related injury, and has a current EPSRC funded project 'Development of a Biomechanically Validated Testing Procedure For the Characterisation of Sport Surfaces'. His professional activities include membership of the British Society for Strain Measurement: Society for Experimental Mechanics, and the International Sports Engineering Association (ISEA).

Dr Matt Carre

t: +44 (0)114 2227839
e: m.j.carre@shef.ac.uk
w: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/mecheng/staff/mcarre

Matt is a Lecturer within the Sports Engineering Research Group (SERG)at Sheffield University. He completed his PhD in 2000, studying the impact of cricket balls on natural turf pitches, and has published widely on ball-surface interactions. Sheffield's SERG has been heavily involved in research on the playing performance of sports surfaces for the past eight years, particularly the study and modelling of ball interactions with natural turf and synthetic sports surfaces. The group is involved in the design and development of two pieces of apparatus for measuring the playing performance of sports surfaces and more recently have started to investigate the interaction between football studs and surfaces. They have worked in the fields of golf, cricket, tennis, hockey and football, in collaboration with governing bodies (England and Wales Cricket Board and the International Tennis Federation) and industrial partners involved with the development of sports surfaces and sports equipment (Notts Sport, Grays International, Adidas-Salamon AG). Recent research projects include the development of a portable system to measure the playing performance of sports surfaces, the behaviour of hockey sticks and cricket bats during play and an aerodynamic study on the phenomena that lead to successful free kicks in football.

Dr Iain James

t: +44 (0)1525 863037
e: i.t.james@cranfield.ac.uk
w: http://www.silsoe.cranfield.ac.uk/staff/cv/i_james.htm

Iain joined National Soil Resources Institute in June 2002 from the laboratory company Natural Resource Management (NRM) Ltd, Berkshire. At NRM Ltd he worked as a technical consultant to the Agriculture, Environment and Turf grass sectors and as a Study Director for Soil and Water Characterisation. He completed his PhD at Cranfield University at Silsoe in research into soil, plant, and water interactions using site-specific management techniques including real-time yield mapping and electromagnetic induction (EMI) surveying. With key responsibility for research and development at the Cranfield Centre for Sports Surfaces, his current research now focuses on improving design of rootzones and sports surfaces; modelling and monitoring nutrient and chemical fate; turfgrass agronomy and sports surface playability. He currently has two industry supported Engineering Doctorate (EPSRC) schemes looking at natural turf degradation, is leading a commercial project looking at drainage of natural sports surfaces, and other projects collaborated on have for example developed the 'going stick' for the horse racing industry. (Is he still? I can't find him on the Cranfield website?)

Mike Abbott

t: +44 (0)131 4492287
e: info@mikeabbottassociates.co.uk
w: http://www.mikeabbottassociates.co.uk << link not working?
SAPCA: http://www.sapca.org.uk << can't find him here either?

Mike is a Chartered Civil Engineer with over forty years' experience in the Construction Industry. Initially involved in the design and construction of roads and bridges with Local Authorities, and then in Contracting, he moved into the specialist sports surfacing sector thirty years ago. In this field Mike has a very wide experience of synthetic sports surfaces, including pitches, athletics tracks and tennis courts. Now a consultant to the industry from his Edinburgh-based Practice, Mike Abbott is the Technical Chairman of the Sports and Play Construction Association (SAPCA) and drafted several SAPCA codes of practice and recent national (NOF) guidance, and represents the industry on BSI Technical Committee PRI/57, which is currently involved in the preparation of the new European (CEN) Standard for sports surfaces. His practice has worked with several Universities in the UK on research and development projects related to sports surfacing and has completed technical projects for Sport England on facility related topics. SAPCA is the recognised trade association for the sports surfacing industry in the UK. With 180 members including specialist contractors, manufacturers, suppliers, consultants, test laboratories and sports governing bodies, SAPCA has unique access to all aspects of the sports facility market in the UK. SAPCA provides a technical service to the industry which includes the preparation of Codes of Practice on construction, in conjunction with sports governing bodies and funding agencies, as well as input into research projects with universities throughout the UK. SAPCA also has close links with international trade associations as well as international governing bodies and test houses and is abreast of current developments of specifications for all sports.