IAKS launch key trends for outdoor sports surfaces

Changing the narrative

The IAKS has launched their “Future Trends for Outdoor Surfaces Guide” where it explores key issues facing sport and recreation and the continued growth in population, increased demands, changing participation patterns and the impacts on the environmental footprint.

The IAKS Outdoor Sports Surfaces Expert Circle has identified trends that reflect how the industry is embracing future needs, advancing technologies, and evolving community expectations, demonstrating industry leadership around climate change and environmental sustainability. The trends report (12 pages) is available as download (click right), free of charge.


Recognising that as sport has evolved over the past six decades, driven by the technology now the generation of technology with waterless hockey fields, innovations in football turf fields, polymers made from sugar cane as opposed to petrochemicals and infills that are organic and more durable and the circular economy being a driving force for the industry.

There is significant emphasis on how the surfaces are changing to reflect community’s changing consumption of sport, from traditional sports club provided games such as 11-a-side Football, Rugby Union, Rugby League, Hockey etc., to continued adaption of sport, with Hockey 5’s, 5-a-side Football, Rugby 7’s, 3 by 3 Basketball amongst others. All of these adapted sports have encouraged the evolution of the sports surface’s technology, the designs and multi-use of the fields of play, the management and maintenance of the surface.

Outdoor sports surfaces reflect sports evolution

As society's consumption of participation changes, so are their concerns and commitment to greater focus on climate change and environmental sustainability. Coupled with the sports surfaces having greater focus on multi-use and multi-sport, the importance of design and procurement has never been more important. The trends and structure of the Guide focuses on:

  1. Changing society needs new thinking to encourage more people to be active.
  2. Climate change and environmental sustainability to protect our planet for future generation.
  3. Multi-sport and multi-use to maximise usage of facilities. 
  4. Planning, design, procurement, construction and management practices are changing.

IAKS Expert Circle Chair, Martin Sheppard, MD of Smart Connection Consultancy is excited about the Future Trends Guide and said:

“The IAKS Expert Circle is committed to championing and advocating for environmentally sustainable, safe and quality sports surfaces that can be used to encourage more people to be active, play, recreate and participate in community and elite sport.

With recent negative commentary by some parts of the community we all need to be more focused on environmental impacts in the way we design these community facilities so that they are accessible to everyone, designed to meet adaptive sports and recreation needs and can add value back to the community. 

The National Sports and Physical Activity Convention (NSC) have partnered with IAKS this year to bring a global narrative to Melbourne, where this  Future Trends Guide will be explored.