Does variability within natural turfgrass sports fields influence ground-derived injuries?
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Natural turfgrass sports fields exhibit within-field variations due to climatic conditions, field construction, field management, and foot traffic patterns from field usage. Variations within a field could influence the playing surface predictability and require athletes to make abrupt or frequent adjustments that lead to increased ground-derived injury occurrence. This study introduces a new methodology aimed at evaluating the potential relationship between within-field variations of turfgrass sports field properties and ground-derived athlete injuries. Collegiate Club Sport athletes self-reported ground-derived injuries over two years. Soil moisture, turfgrass quality, surface hardness, and turfgrass shear strength were quantified from their two home fields. Hot spot analysis identified significantly high (hot spots) and low (cold spots) values within the fields. Injury locations were compared to hot spot maps each month. Binomial proportion tests determined if there were differences between observed injury proportions and expected proportions. Twenty-three ground-derived injuries were reported overall. The observed injury proportions occurring in turfgrass quality cold spots [0.52 (95% CI 0.29-0.76)] and soil moisture hot spots [0.43 (95% CI 0.22-0.66)] was significantly higher than expected [0.20 (p < .001) and 0.21 (p < .05), respectively]. Most injuries in significant areas of turfgrass quality, soil moisture, and surface hardness were along edges of hot and cold spots. These results suggest a potential relationship between within-field variations and ground-derived injuries, particularly in transition areas between non-significant and significant high and low values. Future larger-scale studies can incorporate the reported methodology to validate this relationship and implement strategies that reduce ground-derived injuries.
author list (cited authors)
Straw, C. M., Samson, C. O., Henry, G. M., & Brown, C. N.