Case Study: Agility Training Solutions to Reduce Injuries

Matt Wagner News

A sports injury prevention center switches from a hard rubber surface to soft artificial grass from SYNLawn to help reduce injuries for their athletes.

We all know that team sports teach athletes, especially kids and teens, important life lessons like sportsmanship, integrity and confidence. However, sometimes athletes get injured no matter what surface they are playing on, and an injury can shake their confidence when it comes time to getting back into the game. The Micheli Center is a sports injury prevention center in Waltham, MA, that works with middle school and high school students, among others, and in order to keep athletes safer at their center, the staff decided to add artificial grass to their training facility in order to give their clients a better workout experience.

The Training Facility Dilemma

The Micheli Center opened in April 2013 and is a place that not only helps athletes learn about how they can prevent injuries, but they also assist athletes who are recovering from an injury. In addition to different tests, they also use high-tech equipment like force plates and 3-D imaging to aid in their data collection. Some of their more popular services include their Running Injury Prevention Program as well as their ACL Return to Play Program, but they also offer newer services like their 3D Golf Swing Analysis so that players can improve their golf swing.

The majority of the training done at The Micheli Center takes place in their 3,000-square-foot gym space, which was covered in a hard rubber-flooring product that was causing problems. “First, it did not have much shock absorption and was rough on our clients’ legs. Second, its high ‘stick factor’ was placing our athletes at an increase for injury, specifically our population coming off of ACL tears who we work with on learning proper jumping, landing and cutting techniques,” said Kevin Wolfe, general manager for The Micheli Center. Even if the sticky feeling of the floor is only mental, it can cause hesitation for athletes who are trying to get back to the kind of activities that resulted in pretty devastating injury.

The Deciding Factors

The biggest decision for the center was whether or not they should switch to turf. Their research consisted of an in-depth literature review regarding injury risks and flooring type, but they also had many conversations with their physicians, trainers and clients. “Some of our training staff had an internal debate whether we should go with the turf and if it’s really safer. A lot of the research that’s out there is about turf versus grass. We were able to locate some solid information about training on turf versus rubber or a hard floor, and most of it suggested that the injury rates were either identical or lower with the turf,” said Wolfe, who has been working with the center since its build out and design phase. “Ultimately, we decided that turf was the better fit,” he continued.

Once the center decided to go with artificial grass, they reached out to several local companies. After speaking with New England Turf Store, they were impressed with their product offering and interested in knowing more about the number of high-profile projects they’ve done. Similar installations for athletic programs done by SYNLawn New England include Harvard University, Providence College, Boston University and the New England Patriots.

Choosing SpeedTurf

Ultimately, Kevin felt that SpeedTurf™ was the ideal choice for strength and agility training for a number of reasons. Since this is an indoor installation, the fact that it is able to withstand rigorous foot traffic and wear without the need for infill was extremely important. The one-inch pile height is made of polyethylene grass but is combined with a texturized nylon root zone for added durability and reduced resistance. The attached 5mm foam padding helps absorb energy and reduces the impact on the body. Because the white lines are tufted into the turf, it eliminates the need for seams at critical stress points, which may come loose over time with seams that are glued. The other great thing about our artificial grass is that it can also be ordered in custom colors to suit a company’s branding image or logo. Furthermore, SpeedTurf comes with a nine-year manufacturer-backed warranty. According to Michael DiNatale of SYNLawn New England, “The Micheli Center solidifies SpeedTurf as a premium athletic surface for both training and rehabilitation.”

The SYNLawn Installation Process

The installation, which took place in April 2015, only took two days to cover the entire 3,000-square-foot training facility as well as three distinct running lanes in SpeedTurf and TrackTurf™. However, according to Wolfe, the initial sales to install process took approximately six to eight weeks due to their high-tech 3-D systems. During this time, they tested out some samples of the SpeedTurf to ensure that it wasn’t going to interfere with the cameras, which initially did. “We were originally going to lay down some of the red, white and black turf, but the white turf kicks back too much reflection onto the cameras, so we had to have the running lanes custom made while they were installing here.” With the coloring issue solved, the installers were able to lay the artificial grass directly on top of the existing rubber flooring so that they didn’t have to spend the time and money tearing it up.

  • image of athlete working out at the Micheli Center
  • image of athletic training center

The Results

After about six months of use, the artificial turf has held up great even after using it during their busiest time in the summer, and since the center works with a large number of football and soccer players, it’s beneficial to have something that’s closer to the type of surface they’ll be playing on. Wolfe also believes that switching from the rubber to the turf has increased their customer satisfaction. “Our clients are much happier working out on the more forgiving surface, our trainers are able to incorporate more exercises than before such as sled pulls and our facility looks more professional,” commented Wolfe. He also said that the ease of care is a huge pro for the center since they’re able to have it shampooed four times a year and vacuum it regularly to keep the surface clean.

Lessons Learned

While Wolfe noted that they were lucky enough to get walked through the entire process pretty well, his advice for others is to really think about how installing artificial grass is going to affect your business, including the smallest of details. “If we hadn’t thought about the 3-D cameras picking up too much reflection, then we would have installed these white running lanes and then had to tear them up,” said Wolfe. They also had to be aware of the little things like making sure that opening a door wasn’t going to get stuck on the turf, something that the installers took care of on site.

  • image of athlete working out at the Micheli Center
  • image of athletic training center

Add SYNLawn to Just About Any Space

SpeedTurf can be added just about anywhere, including your sports center, physical therapy center, gym, training facility, basement, garage or even man cave. If you’d like to learn more about SpeedTurf and the agility turf grass products we offer. Click here to find a SYNLawn distributor near you.


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