A hardwood sports floor surface is unquestionably linked with athletic performance. In fact, there is a science behind the relationship. Engineering flooring systems designed to meet the demands of athletes playing on today’s courts takes into account several important factors.
Since athletic performance is facilitated by certain key features of hardwood sports floors, the Maple Flooring Manufacturer’s Association offers standards for gym floor installation and maintenance. Facility managers are provided with these established criteria to guide their decisions regarding sports flooring.
The choice of hardwood sports flooring materials also greatly impacts success on the court. Given the various characteristics of maple hardwood courts, such as durability, flexibility and resilience, athletic performance is notably enhanced. Maple hardwood sports floors are also low maintenance.
The prevalence of the maple wood gym floor is due to its wood hardness rating (based on the Janka Scale), which impacts its ability to withstand heavy wear and tear. But for athletes to successfully perform on these courts, the following five sports flooring features are key:
Key Performance Feature 1: Shock Absorption
Besides being a durable wood, maple hardwood allows for maximum shock absorption, which is key to athletic performance. Shock resistance, aka force reduction, measures the floor’s response to athletic impact. Force reduction in hardwood floors is compared to the impact sustained by concrete flooring.
Hardwood sports floors with excellent shock absorption properties are ideal for various sports, such as basketball, volleyball, dance and aerobic training. Remaining resilient despite heavy wear and tear is an invaluable feature of hardwood sports floors with high shock resistance.
Comfortable playability for athletes is made possible when hardwood sports floors feature high levels of shock absorption. For instance, when basketball players exercise, practice and compete on floors with poor shock absorption, they are likely to experience greater soreness in the knees and ankles.
While there is a lack of evidence that proves floors with adequate shock absorption prevent injury, floors with more shock absorption help to prevent player fatigue. Plus, the lower-extremity joints of athletes are protected, since these floors are easier on an athlete’s body.
Sports floors that accommodate certain athletic activities, like basketball, should provide consistent shock absorption throughout. The type of material with which a gym floor is built, and the design of the subfloor contribute significantly to the floor’s level of shock absorption.
Key Performance Feature 2: Basketball Rebound
Ball rebound is also majorly impacted by the level of shock absorption of a sports floor. The bounce of a ball is especially important in many sports, including basketball. When testing how well an inflated ball bounces off the floor, basketballs are always used.
A basketball bounced onto a softer floor will result in a lower vertical ball rebound, simply due to the floor’s higher force reduction. The ball response and the level of shock absorption is relational. On basketball courts, a minimum 93 percent ball rebound measurement suffices, per the MFMA.
Key Performance Feature 3: Surface Friction
An ideal amount of surface friction is necessary in a range of sports where players slide on the hardwood court. Inadequate surface friction leads to athletes unwantedly slipping across the gym floor. In direct contrast, excessive surface friction poses as a hurdle to players.
The finish on the hardwood floor plays a huge role in how much surface friction the court will sustain. When testing the level of surface friction on a polished floor, a dry floor is always used. The coefficient of friction should meet recommended standards to be considered nonhazardous.
Key Performance Feature 4: Vertical Deflection
The gym floor’s downward movement can be measured during an athlete’s point of impact. Zero deflection, for instance, occurs when a person jumps on a concrete floor. In comparison, a vertical deflection of several inches would result when an athlete jumps on a trampoline.
Foot stability is greatly enhanced by vertical deflection, especially in sports where foot stability is critical. Examples of such sports include dance, aerobics, volleyball and basketball. Excessive vertical deflection leads to the athlete experiencing instability or slowness. More vertical deflection occurs in floors with high levels shock absorption.
Key Performance Feature 5: Area Deflection
Area deflection is the measurement of energy dispersed throughout a hardwood sports floor. Under an athlete’s impact, the area deflection calculates the floor’s capability of containing the deflected area. Area deflection properties are highly dependent on the preferences of coaches and players.
Uniformity of the above features in a hardwood sports floor ensures consistency during athletic games. The manufacturing of high-quality floors follows established guidelines as set forth by the MFMA. A floor’s performance requirements can be compared to the following MFMA standards:
Shock absorption should be at a 50 percent minimum average. Basketball rebound should ideally have a 93 percent minimum average. Surface friction should be at a 0.6 percent minimum. Vertical deflection should be at a 2.3 millimeter minimum average. Area deflection stands at 20 percent maximum at all test points.
Designing and installing a premium quality hardwood court can be achieved when you partner with the leader in hardwood flooring: Kiefer USA. We’ve outfitted gyms of all types, including those in major universities, like Bowling Green State University and Purdue University.
Kiefer USA Hardwood Sports Floors
Kiefer USA products are manufactured with precision and top-grade materials. Our Connor Maple Flooring, for instance, is DIN certified, STEM tested and an Official Final Four floor. We also offer fixed subfloor systems that enhance stability and are either wholly or partially anchored.
When professionalism and quality are your main priorities when choosing a new hardwood sports floor, consult the pros at Kiefer USA. Our nationwide team of friendly representatives will help you through the entire process, resulting in a superior sports floor that you and your team will take pride in.
Athletic performance matters at your university, high school or elementary school, so trust Kiefer USA to design and install the highest quality gym floor. Countless coaches and facility managers have full confidence in the hardwood sports flooring from Kiefer USA.