Technical – Maintenance

Technical Information - Maintenance

Maintaining Sports Surfaces & Colour Coatings

  • General Court Care – All Surfaces.
  • Maintenance of Colour Coatings.
  • Routine Maintenance Schedule.
  • Slip Resistance.
General Court Care – All Surfaces

Footwear
Training shoes or other types of footwear with bars, studs or sharp serrations on the soles should not be used.

Have a notice at the entrance to the court recommending the correct type of footwear. A player wearing incorrect shoes with aggressive soles can do a great deal of damage in a very short time.

Avoid black soles on painted surfaces because these tend to leave unsightly black marks, which are difficult to remove.

Advisable to have some form of mat, scraper or shoe-cleaning device at the entrance to the court so that players can clean their shoes before going on the court.

Furniture and Equipment on the Court
Most surfaces will be indented and therefore damaged by heavy or sharp objects standing on the court for a long period. Umpire’s chairs, garden seats etc. should not be put directly onto the surface, but boards or pads should be placed under the legs to spread the load.

Where possible, prohibit roller-skates, skateboards, bicycles and anything else on the court and which could do damage to the surface. Pets should also be excluded.

Machinery being used on the court surface, such as compressors, water-pumps etc. should be stood at all times on a piece of plywood or similar.

Net and Net Posts
Do not over-tighten the tennis net. This will cause damage or even breakage of the steel cable and in severe cases may pull the net posts inwards, occasioning a very costly repair.

A common cause of the net being over-tightened is that the centre band is too short preventing the correct net height from being achieved. The centre band will usually be provided with a screw adjuster and this should be slackened to allow the net to be adjusted correctly, and then carefully re-tightened.

Correct height for the net is 3’ 0” (0.914m). The traditional method of using two rackets to provide the correct measurement is no longer practical, because of the diversity of modern rackets. A net measuring stick should be available at all times for this purpose.

Net should always be slackened after use to reduce strain on the equipment and to prevent lower temperatures at night causing the cable to contract and be stressed still further.
It is also a wise precaution to wrap the net over its headband to prevent the net and surface being abraded by the surface as it blows in the wind.

If the court is not to be used during the winter, both the net and the net posts should be removed and stored, ensuring that they are first carefully dried.

The winding mechanism should be greased occasionally to ensure smooth and quiet operation and the posts checked for rust. It can also be helpful to lightly grease the post sockets and that part of the posts that fits into the sockets. This can greatly facilitate the removal of the posts, especially if they are left in position for long periods.

Court Perimeter
Strip of ground at least 2 feet wide outside the surround fence should be kept clear of vegetation at all times to form a barrier against plant and weed encroachment onto the playing surface.

This may be done quite simply with an appropriate weed killer. It follows from this that climbing plants such as roses or clematis should not be planted to grow up the surround fencing. Not only may their roots disturb the court surface and their leaves pollute it, but they may cause severe damage to the fencing during high winds.

Shrubs, trees and hedges should be planted as far back from the court as possible, certainly allowing sufficient room between the surround fence and plants for maintenance to be carried out between them.

Tree Roots
Trees, hedges and shrubs to be planted close to the court should be chosen carefully to avoid any with aggressive root systems, such as poplars and sycamores, as these can cause major disturbance of the surface.

If their presence is essential, the insertion of a root barrier between the trees and the court is strongly recommended, just as it is when the court has to be sited near mature specimens.

Overhanging Branches
Branches of trees which overhang the court invariably cause problems.

Water dripping from the branches may cause slippery or discoloured patches, encourage the growth of algae or moss and sometimes even erode the surface.

The secretions of aphids coat the court surface with a sticky blackish substance, which may impair foothold and encourage algae and, in severe cases, damage the surface paint.

Last, but by no means least, the droppings of larger birds, such as pigeons and collared doves, can cause damage especially to painted macadam surfaced during the summer months. For all these reasons overhanging branches should be pruned well back.

Weeds
The extent to which weeds may constitute a nuisance will depend very much on the type of surface and the location of the court. Weeds are virtually unheard of on porous concrete surfaces and are rare on impervious acrylic surfaces. Wind blown seedlings can sometimes establish themselves in sand-filled artificial grass surfaces, but usually wither away quite quickly. It is on bitumen-based surfaces, such as grey-green or porous macadam, where troublesome weeds are most likely to be encountered.

Courts sited in fields, paddocks or other weedy areas or adjacent to suckering trees, may be at increased risk beyond the immediate post- construction period. This is because of tree roots giving rise to suckers and certain weeds, such as creeping thistle, can spread rapidly under ground and may re-infest the tennis court site thereby.

In these circumstances, it is advisable to maintain a weed-free “Cordon Sanitaire” around the perimeter of the court by applying a good, general weed killer regularly to a strip of a minimum width of 1m (3 ft) immediately outside the court surround fencing. This will check underground growth before it reaches the court.

Treating Weeds
All grass, weeds, seedlings and shallow rooted plants should be treated with a proprietary weed killer, thoroughly wetting the foliage of the weeds. The weeds will be quickly scorched, then shrivel and die.

Deep-rooted weeds, such as thistles, convolvulus, bindweed, mare’s tail, tree suckers, etc. should be treated with a systemic weed killer, spraying all the growing parts of the weed thoroughly with the solution.

These weed killers work by being carried down to the roots of the plant and, therefore, act more slowly than paraquat-based herbicides. The weeds should be left in situ until the weed killer has taken effect. Systemic weed killers will only work very effectively on young, fast- growing weeds and will be less effective late in the summer when the weeds have hardened off and growth has slowed down.

When the weeds are dead they may be carefully removed. Great care should be taken not to disturb the surface of the court. A sharp, narrow- bladed knife may be useful for cutting off thick weed stems below the surface. If the weed has lifted the court surface, it should be carefully trodden down with the flat of the foot once the weed has died.

If very deep-rooted weeds persist in spite of the spot treatment described above, advice should be sought from either the installer or a specialist weed-killing company.

Treat weeds as soon as they appear – do not let them become established.

(Based on SAPCA Code of Practice for the Construction and Maintenance of Sports Courts)

Maintenance of Colour Coatings

An acceptable performance from Coatings may typically be expected for five to six years if the court is used for its intended purpose and maintained correctly.

Circumstances where the paint coating may wear prematurely include the following:

  • Using a Macadam Court in warm or Hot Weather during the first season after laying.
  • Inappropriate Footwear such as hard soled shoes – the correct sports or tennis shoes should always be worn.
  • Allowing the court to be used for activities such as cricket, hockey, golf, skateboarding, roller-blading and cycling.
  • Lack of Routine Maintenance.
  • Inappropriate Cleaning Equipment and the incorrect type of high-pressure hoses, etc.
  • Using the court as a general playground.
  • Allowing vehicles onto the court.
  • Spillage of fluids, including fuels, solvents and even some fizzy drinks.
Maintenance Routine

Daily

Slacken net and roll up middle to prevent it dragging over the surface.
Close gates.

Weekly
Sweep or blow off leaves etc.

Early Spring and/or Autumn
Kill Moss & Algae

Annually or Biannually
Thorough Pressure cleaning.

Every 4 – 6 Years
Clean and Repaint playing surface.

Substances to be kept away from Courts

Chewing Gum
Chewing gum is invariably difficult to remove, although some advise the use of ice cubes which harden the gum and allow it to be broken away more easily.

Petrol, Oil and Solvents
Petrol, oil or solvent spillages will seriously damage most surfaces, especially those that are bitumen-bound or are superimposed upon a bitumen-bound sub-base.

Great care should be taken to ensure that any machinery used within the court area, such as a garden vacuum cleaner, is clean and in good repair and does not drip petrol or oil. It is strongly recommended that machines be removed from the court surface before refilling with petrol, diesel or oil. In the event of a spillage immediate copious irrigation with tepid water and detergent may minimise the damage.

Cigarettes
Courts should be made a “No Smoking” area. Cigarettes are unlikely to constitute a fire hazard, but cigarette ends will leave unsightly burn marks on most surfaces.

Salt and De-Icing Agents
As a general rule salt or other de-icing agents should ideally not be used to remove snow or ice from courts; their effect is unpredictable and they may cause damage.

Slip Resistance

Slip Resistance is a measurement of Surface Grip of Macadam, Polymeric and Acrylic courts.

If sports surfaces are not properly maintained their surface grip underfoot can be greatly reduced, causing players to slip or fall in damp conditions.

Modern Paint coatings for sport surfaces contain Texturing Agents such as Silica or Aluminium Oxide, in order to provide the required grip in dry, wet and damp conditions.

The Lawn Tennis Association(LTA) recommend a minimum Slip Resistance value for Tennis & Mini Tennis of 60.

The surface of Netball, Basketball and MUGAs Courts usually require a higher slip resistance due to the characteristics of the dynamic nature of play involved. Therefore, they usually have a higher recommended value of 75.

(More Information – Technical Info. – Slip Resistance)

Technical Information - Maintaining Colour Coatings