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13 March 2019

In this guide, you’ll find out everything you need to know about every type of sports pitch. Whether you need to know the difference between a 3G and 4G pitch, or you’d like a description of each pitch type – you’ve come to the right place.

Types of Pitches

We’ll now discuss the differences between each type of surface:

Pitch type Description Recommended for which sport
Hybrid 95% natural turf that is specially reinforced with 5% synthetic fibres. Best for high profile football and rugby. Recently available for cricket and golf.
Synthetic 100% synthetic turf made using man-made fibres. Perfect for clubs, schools and universities whose pitches require a lot of use all year round. These surfaces offer consistent performance and safety in all conditions.
2G Shorter and denser sand-based or dressed surfaces with a pile height of usually less than 24mm. Hockey, tennis and recreational football. Hockey, tennis, cricket and recreational football. Also often referred to as Multi Use Games Areas (MUGA’s).
3G Long-pile synthetic grass with a pile height of 40mm to 65mm. Typically filled with a combination of sand and performance infill. Football, rugby and Gaelic Athletic Association sports.
4G Synthetic grass without a need for rubber crumb It is important to note that technologies beyond 3G (4G, 5G, 6G etc.) have not been yet recognised by sports governing bodies.
5G Synthetic grass without a need for rubber crumb
6G Synthetic grass without a need for rubber crumb

synthetic pitch profile

Below you will see a typical synthetic pitch profile, which shows all the layers that make up a pitch.

2G Pitches

Second Generation (2G) synthetic surfaces consist of two elements: synthetic turf and infill. They are typically between 13mm-24mm in pile height. These surfaces are either sand-dressed or sand-filled. Whilst older style sand-filled pitches are still available, newer partially sand-dressed systems have become more popular in recent years.

2G pitches are perfect for hockey, tennis and recreational football. They are often installed with a shock absorbent pad to meet a certain performance and testing criteria such as BS-EN and FIH.

3G Pitches

3G stands for a Third Generation synthetic surface which consists of three elements; synthetic turf, sand infill and rubber infill. These surfaces are typically between 35mm-65mm in pile height. Primary sports played on these types of surfaces are Football, Rugby Union, Rugby League, Lacrosse and American Football. This combination of materials is sometimes installed with a shock absorbent pad to meet certain performance and testing criteria such as BS-EN, FIFA, World Rugby and RFL.

Third Generation (3G) synthetic surfaces are some of the most popular around. They consist of three elements: synthetic turf, sand infill and performance infill – typically rubber or EPDM. They are typically between 35mm-65mm in pile height. 3G pitches can also be installed with a shock absorbent pad underneath in order to meet performance and testing criteria such as the FIFA Quality Concept, World Rugby Regulation 22, BS-EN and RFL. Our 3G SISTurf pitches are made in Britain using premium materials and tested to FIFA, World Rugby, Federation of International Hockey (FIH) standards by leading test houses.

4G Pitches

Fourth Generation (4G) surfaces consist of one element: synthetic turf. These surfaces are still in the early stage of development and are designed to eliminate the requirement for any infill products, whilst still meeting all the performance and testing requirements required by the sporting governing bodies. This is a relatively new innovation to the market which struggles to meet performance testing and safety standards over a long period of time compared to 2G and 3G systems.

The Difference Between 3G and 4G

The main difference between 3G and 4G surfaces is that 3G pitches contain infill, whilst 4G systems do not. 3G pitches are the latest to be recognised by any accredited governing body. Therefore, you will only find 3G pitches as being publically endorsed by sports teams or influencers.

Hybrid pitches

Hybrid pitches are constructed from 95% natural turf that is specially stitched (injected) with 5% synthetic fibres. These types of system are capable of much longer playing hours than 100% natural grass surfaces. The blend of natural and synthetic materials means that pitches have the robustness and endurance normally associated with synthetic turf.

SISGrass, our flagship product, is a technologically advanced, reinforced turf system with patented technology. We are proud to say that our SISGrass pitches have been installed at 6 out of 12 world football cup stadiums. SISGrass Hybrid pitches can be prepared in as little as 5 days, even between matches. Don’t believe us? Have a look at what we did for our friends at Derby County Stadium.

The Difference Between Hybrid and Synthetic

According to FIFA, synthetic surfaces consist of entirely artificial (man-made or produced) materials such as an artificial turf carpet, sand and rubber infill. However, hybrid surfaces use natural grass with synthetic fibres to support the surface. It is an industry standard for the synthetic fibres to be below 5% of the total grass coverage.

When choosing a pitch type, it is important to consider a number of factors. The type of sport(s) that you will be playing, as well as the expected hours of usage will play a massive role in which surface you go for. You should also consider the realistic upkeep of the pitch that you are committing to. For example, if the pitch is going in a school, then you will want to opt for one that is low-maintenance and designed to last a number of years.

Let us know in the comments what your favourite pitch is!