Sports Surface Testing 101: Force Reduction

Force ReductionThis is the first article in a series that will explain the most commonly used methods to evaluate sport surfaces. This article outlines the methods used to evaluate the Force Reduction properties of a sport surface. The method is non-destructive and is valid for both lab and field testing. Variations are used to test virtually all sport surfaces including wood and synthetic indoor sports surfaces, tracks (walk/jog/run), tennis courts, and synthetic turf fields.

Force Reduction, also referred to as shock absorption, is the measure of the surface’s ability to reduce impact forces compared to concrete. There has been a great deal of harmonization across standardization bodies for the method used to measure and calculate force reduction levels. That is to say that many standards utilize the same test and calculation methods. One test will provide the force reduction levels for DIN 18032-2, EN 14904, ASTM F2772, and ASTM F2157.  FIBA (The International Federation of Basketball), IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) and the MFMA (Maple Flooring Manufacturer’s Association) all adopted the same methods when developing their own internal performance standards. A slightly modified version of the test is used by FIFA to evaluate synthetic turf fields.

Force reduction levels have not been shown to definitively reduce injuries, however during our involvement in the sports surfacing we believe that it is clearly an indicator of how comfortable a surface is. We have one such history where a University had two gyms with force reduction levels that were only 2% different, on average, and the athletes all preferred the softer floor. That floor had force reduction levels of only about 13%. The floor with the lowest average force reduction had minimum force reduction levels of only 4%, while the minimum value on the other court was 8%.

During force reduction testing a computer records the maximum impact force generated on the sports surface. The maximum force generated on the sport surface and the maximum force generated on a rigid floor are then used to compute force reduction {FR = (1-Ffloor/Fconcrete)*100}. Higher force reduction values indicate a softer surface.

Contact us to have your sport surface’s (turf, track, court) force reduction level determined by visiting or email us at  [email protected].

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