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Flooring for Sports and Recreation Ministries
By: Nathan Mason and William Thornton

Successful ministries start with a firm spiritual foundation, but, in the case of sports and recreation ministries, it pays to consider a physical foundation, as well. Certain floors are intended for sports, providing a safe surface that is optimized for activity. Other floors, such as carpet or VCT, can increase the likelihood of injury and provide a poor playing surface. 

So, how do you build your recreational ministry on "rock" rather than "sand?"  The newly updated ASTM F2772 standard helps determine which floors are acceptable for sports activity and which are not.  It can also help evaluate the performance properties of sports flooring to determine which is best suited for your application.

ASTM F2772 measures four key factors: force reduction, surface finish effect (also called "friction"), ball rebound, and vertical deformation.  Each parameter provides valuable information regarding the safety and suitability of a floor for sports activities.  ASTM F2772 can be applied to area elastic flooring (hardwood), point elastic flooring (vinyl and other synthetic systems), and combi-elastic (systems combining area elastic and point elastic construction).

Force Reduction
Force reduction ("shock absorption") evaluates a surface's ability to reduce impact force, particularly impacts generated by lower extremities. An example of this sort would be the foot of a running or jumping athlete as it contacts the floor. ASTM F2772 arranges degrees of force reduction into five categories, expressing the relative levels of shock absorption. Category 1 (10% to 21%) reflects the lowest values, while category 5 (58% and above) reflects the highest.  Any flooring system that does not provide at least 10% force reduction would not be considered an appropriate surface for indoor sports, according to ASTM F2772.  In general, higher force reduction categories are better for athletes, but not all circumstances require large force reduction values. To be certain, consult a sports flooring expert to find the right category for your intended use.

Ball Rebound
Ball rebound ("ball bounce") is a mechanical property that determines a surface's suitability for basketball. It is based on the responsiveness of a ball to the playing surface. Ball rebound is calculated by comparing the ball's rebound height on the sports surface to the rebound height of the same ball on concrete. The result is expressed as a percentage. In the ASTM F2772 standard, all surfaces should perform at a level greater than 90%. ASTM F2772 also has uniformity requirement that ensures consistent ball bounce throughout the flooring system. This particular testing methodology is specific to basketballs, but may offer useful information for other inflated balls that come into contact with the flooring's surface, as well.

Surface Finish Effect (Friction)
Surface finish effect describes a surface's response to a sliding foot, typically under dry conditions. Like the test for ball rebound, it accounts for performance and uniformity. Acceptable performance levels fall between 80 and 110, but it is important to note that the optimal degree of friction varies between activities. For example, some surfaces designed for competitive sports, such as sprinting, require more resistance to sliding than other sports, such as basketball. The value acquired in testing can be compared to historically acceptable levels of friction for basketball and volleyball. Here again, it is important to consult a sports flooring expert to help determine an appropriate value for the intended use of your facility.

Vertical Deformation
Vertical deformation values indicate the ability of the surface to deform under load. High deformation can affect the safety of the athlete, causing instability of the foot, while low deformation may cause injuries as a result of immediate impact force. The testing and parameters of acceptable results are specific for each type of flooring system (area elastic, point elastic, and combi-elastic). Vertical deformation testing accounts for two parameters per system type:

Performance level: For point elastic/synthetic flooring, values should be <0.138" (3.5 mm).  Area elastic/wood flooring is classified into either an inclusive or exclusive range. The inclusive range (Class A) represents values between 0.071"-0.197" (1.8 mm � 5.0 mm) and the exclusive range (Class B) represents values <0.071" (<1.8 mm). For combination systems (wood/synthetic), inclusive values are 0.071"-0.197" (1.8 mm � 5.0 mm) for wood and >0.020 or <0.079 (>0.5 mm or < 2.0 mm) for the synthetic surface.

Uniformity level (for all system types): Mean absolute deviation of individual tests should not exceed 0.03" (0.7mm) relative to the average of all test point values.

ASTM F2772 is a best standard for evaluating indoor sports flooring for several reasons. Unlike other European sports standards, it is focused on aspects that are important in North American sports. ASTM F2772 is also an evolving standard. Using the guidance of technical experts from around the country, it is periodically updated to create the most current and relevant framework possible for evaluating sports flooring. 

Whether breaking ground on a new building or renovating an old one, proper flooring for sports and recreation can get your ministry off on the right foot or give it new life. The information provided by the ASTM F2772 standard can help you determine which flooring options are suitable for sports. It can also help you compare the properties of sports flooring to find the one that is best for your circumstances. 

By using this standard and carefully considering your new floor, you can rest assured that your sports and recreation ministry has the foundation it needs. Afterwards, you can move on to more important matters, like serving your community of faith and growing your ministry.

Nathan Mason is marketing coordinator and William Thornton is North American technical manager for Tarkett Sports, www.tarkettsports.com.

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