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TURF vs GRASS: Which is better?

Sock, Sock then Shoe, Shoe or Sock, Shoe, Sock Shoe...this is the same sort of debate... you are going to end up in the same place (with your shoes on or playing lacrosse) but debating how you there is part of the journey.

Every lacrosse player in his or her career has played on grass and turf and has developed their own opinions about which is better. Some players will talk about how they began their career on the JV grass fields only to advance to some of the best turf fields in the country. All players experience mud covered cleats or a house filled with turf pieces. In truth, most players will see some combination of both playing surfaces, but the debate will remain - do you prefer turf or grass and importantly can you modify your approach to compete on either?

Grass: You know this stuff - it grows naturally and provides a surface that makes it easy to 'play anywhere' Anywhere that the grass hasn't been worn down by use that is...


Conditioning is a PRO. Grass is often preferred by coaches because of the workout it provides. When running on grass, your feet are pounding the natural earth which requires more muscle flexibility and strength.  This drives your body to adapt to the uneven conditions and elevate your level of conditioning. Coaches, not just lacrosse coaches, often have their players train on grass in the pre season.  And let's not forget how your groundball skills are put to the test in grass?!

Lines is a PRO. On a grass field, the lines tend to be more defined, and often are not in competition with the field lines of other sports. Turf fields today are used for more than one sport and when playing the lines can be mixed and sometimes faded. This can cause a player not see a line or accidentally step out of bounds or into the crease.

Weather and basic conditions are CONS.  As a natural surface, grass is not flexible when exposed to severe weather conditions. For example, snow on grass would result in a canceled game, where turf can be plowed. Further, a grass field may be uneven. There may be some spots on the field that may be elevated more than the others, which of course could be do to exposure to the weather...

"Grass fields are better suited for beginner players because it requires them to develop better groundball skills and secure footwork."

Now turf fields are the next generation of outdoor fields.  They appear like grass from the distance but frequently generate that odd smell of glue gun melting in the sun... In truth, most universities predominately use turf fields and many high schools offer up a mix. 

Weather and general conditions are a PRO. The great thing about turf fields is that they are consistent. Rain or snow the field will continue to remain in perfect condition. If there is snow on the ground a turf field is very easy to plow without having to worry about uprooting the field itself. As a player, one of the things I've always hated was rescheduled games due to weather!

Speed is a PRO: Turf is just faster. When a player is running on turf they are able to be more agile and faster without having grass holding their feet down.  Turf requires less energy expended to do the same amount of work. With less resistance, a player can produce a much faster pace of play.

Injuries are a CON:  With the evolution of turf fields have come improvements in the way they respond to use.  Certainly, you don't need to be a world class athlete to recognize that running on concrete (which early Astro turf felt like) is harder on your body than running on softer surfaces.  As turf has developed, the impact on the human body has improved.  Currently, many fields have 'infill' (turf pellets) that if properly maintained help with minimizing injuries.  That said, every athlete should be aware of the conditions of the field they are on and take steps to reduce strain if turf is in poor condition.  

"Turf fields are better because they help a player push their talents and excel faster."

The goal of any player is to be able to perform on either surface.  Just like the world's best tennis players who play on many, MANY different types of courts, you can't avoid learning how to modify your lacrosse game for these two surfaces. Different opinions on which is better will always exist but won't change is the amount of work you put out in order to the benefits in your game!

Happy Laxing!

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