Why are hockey pitches wet? Reason Commonwealth Games surface is watered

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After the start of Team England’s participation in the Commonwealth Games in ice hockey, spectators wonder why the fields are wet.

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The Commonwealth Games ice hockey tournament is in full swing for Team England and the men’s squad is preparing to take on Canada in a bid to secure a spot in the semi-finals.

All Birmingham Games ice hockey takes place at the University of Birmingham Hockey and Squash Centre.

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Team England and Team Canada play today (4th August).

The two international standard hockey pitches were built in 2017 as part of a £10m outdoor facilities refurbishment and temporary seating for around 6,000 spectators and accredited guests was built around the main pitch.

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The men’s and women’s teams have received plenty of support and both teams are still fighting for medals at the Games – but viewers may have wondered why the hockey pitches are wet.

Why is the Commonwealth Games hockey field wet?

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The hockey field’s playing surface is man-made and needs to be kept in tip-top condition, so ground staff spray the field with water cannons before every game – and sometimes during half-time breaks when the weather is hot.

Like all elite-level pitches, the hockey pitch at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games is water-based as opposed to a sand-based surface. This helps prevent friction burn and other injuries – which is common with a sand-based surface – and also means the ball rolls faster and straighter than other types of artificial grass.

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There are many advantages of water-based pitches over sand-based pitches:

  • Water-based pitches are safer because the water layer absorbs shock better than a sand-based pitch. It also gives players more control over their slides.
  • Falls onto water surfaces are less likely to result in injury because irrigated pitches are much softer and cooler to play on.
  • Water-based courts allow the game to flow faster because the ball runs more freely than on a clay court.
  • The ball bounces consistently and at a reasonable height on a water pitch compared to the erratic bounce we see on a dry pitch.

Schedule for hockey in the 2022 Commonwealth Games

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Men’s Group Stage – Thursday 4 August 2022

South Africa vs New Zealand – 7pm

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Australia vs Pakistan – 9pm

Women’s Group Stage – Thursday 4 August 2022

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South Africa vs New Zealand – 9am

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