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Firm Footing For School Sporting Success

Naomi Cole, segment executive at Tarkett, explores the options for sports flooring in schools:

SOON the UK will welcome over 10,000 elite sportsmen and women from 200 countries for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London. As well as delivering a world class sporting event, the government has set out plans for using the Games to inspire young people through sport.

So it’s essential for schools to offer suitable facilities with playing surfaces that help to reduce risk of injury and enhance performance.

The introduction of European Standards has encouraged development of specialised sports surfaces. BS EN 14904 relates to indoor surfaces for multi-sports use and provides criteria for force reduction, vertical deformation and skid resistance. It aims to achieve uniform friction across the entire surface to give consistency of grip and slide, and ball rebound characteristics.

The level of impact absorption or force reduction is a key consideration when determining what surface to install, since the ability to absorb impacts is essential in reducing injury risk.

Elasticity indicates surface capacity to restore the impact energy, while ball bounce should be as close as possible to that achieved on a concrete slab.

Deformation characteristics depend on type of flooring chosen, but should not be too soft. Grip is partly guaranteed by contact between the sole of a shoe and the floor, but the surface should also allow for controlled sliding and ease of foot movement, with sufficient grip to prevent slipping.

Sports flooring options are many and varied, with solutions available in PVC, polyurethane, linoleum and wood. Basic point elastic floors can be laid directly onto the subfloor, while area elastic systems can be sprung or semi-sprung with solutions to suit different floor voids.

When selecting sports flooring for schools, it’s important to consider the ages of children who will use it and the variety of sports played. Most schools will offer a broad range of sports to encourage maximum participation, so a multi- sports system may be preferable.

With space at a premium in most schools, the sports hall may be used for non-sporting activities too, such as assemblies, dining and examinations. There are two options here, firstly install a multi-sports system designed to cope with occasional non-sports use. The alternative is a performance sports surface combined with a floor protection system that can be quickly and easily installed and removed as required.

Another consideration is ease of maintenance, particularly where the sports flooring is used after hours by community groups or after-school clubs. Ultimately, selecting a BS EN 14904 compliant school sports surface will ensure it is fit for purpose and safe to use throughout its life.

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at www.contractflooringjournal.co.uk.