As the year progresses and the colder months approach, the need for winterization and protection of athletic fields and equipment must be considered. Regardless of the field’s purpose, be it football, baseball, soccer or any other athletic use, anyone in the athletic industry knows the importance of being vigilant and actively planning and preparing for the winter months is crucial in protecting and prolonging the life of outdoor athletic areas and equipment.
While a large majority of the products on athletic fields are designed to withstand the harsh winter temperatures, there are steps that should be taken to further protect some items.
The playing field itself is one of the most important for outdoor sports venues. Any groundskeeper or coach realizes the need for a field to be kept in optimal condition whether during peak season or any other time. The additional maintenance and investment will pay off.
When protecting the turf of an athletic field, there are a few steps that help prevent damage not only during winter but other times of the year as well. The extra upkeep will pay off for years to come.
- Barrier Netting
Barrier netting is frequently used to block areas off to protect the athletic fields from foot traffic. The netting itself is designed to withstand drastic temperatures so it can be used for many years.
- Use Turf Blankets
Turf blankets or covers offer a shield of protection for the grass during freezing temperatures while also helping speed up turf growth during the pre-season months as temperatures rise. Not only does it offer protection from temperatures, but it can also prevent pests. Turf blankets are worth the investment for protecting athletic fields.
- Prevent Pests
While pests are not overly active during the winter months, it is still worth assessing on a regular basis. As spring evolves so do animals and underground, burrowing rodents can quickly destroy a field.
- Protect the Sidelines
While most of the important game action takes place on the field, the sidelines should not be forgotten either. With the massive amount of foot traffic in these areas, with the coaches, athletes, cheerleaders, it can incur massive damage. There are sideline tarps available to help protect these areas from cleats, equipment, etc.
- Perform a Safety Inspection
Safety is always important and the downtime of winter provides the perfect opportunity to inspect the turf conditions as well as checking fences, lighting and bleachers.
As with any item, if you take care of something it will last longer. This is no different for athletic equipment. Most bleachers and players benches are aluminum, but cleaning still helps preserve them. A simple washing of warm soapy water either applied with a mop or pressure washer will help preserve bleachers; and because the aluminum is anodized, other chemicals can actually compromise the surface and cause corrosion. When winterizing the outdoor field, these pieces should be checked for unsafe wear and tear, missing bolts, etc.
During the off-season months, padding and netting should be removed and stored indoors to prevent cracking, drying out and fraying from extreme temperature changes. There are UV coating and latex sprays available for some materials that will help prolong life.
The athletic playing field is a large gathering place for sports, friends and families to celebrate healthy competition. Making the areas safe and as comfortable as possible will provide hours of exercise, communication and bonding for individuals who come together to celebrate sports. Keep the areas safe and make the necessary investments to last throughout the seasons.