Other than tennis, which sports, at a professional level, are played on intentionally different surfaces?

  • 1
    Almost every sport. The only major sports that I know of that are always played on the same surface are boxing and ice hockey. – Coach-D Jan 25 '16 at 5:31
  • @Coach-D: not really. See e.g. Klitschko vs Fury: Fight goes ahead after 'spongy' ring row where the bout was nearly cancelled due to a dispute over the surface. – Philip Kendall Jan 25 '16 at 8:36
  • @PhilipKendall - And NHL players complain about the widely varying ice conditions - especially rinks in warm weather... This is just a bad question. – Coach-D Jan 25 '16 at 15:47
  • 2
    I think his question asks "which sports compete with intentionally differentiated playing surfaces?", as opposed to "which sports have playing surfaces that can be different?" Just as hockey players may complain about the ice conditions, most other sports could have varying amounts of sweat or dirt that affect the playing surface...but that sounds granularly out of context. Basketball plays on wood; hockey plays on ice. But gridiron and baseball can play on grass, turf, or a combination. – Trevor D Mar 8 '16 at 20:43


Indoors this is played on carpet.
Outdoors it is played on grass, either Flat Green or Crown Green.

There aren't many professional players of Bowls, in any of the three disciplines, but they do exist.

The distance that the bowl has to travel is the same on both carpet and grass. Of course it takes a lot more effort to send the bowl on grass, making the two disciplines very different to play.


The closest examples I can think of to tennis, where the same rules apply across significantly different surfaces are soccer, American football and baseball, all of which can be played on both natural and artificial turf.

Taking a slightly wider definition of "one sport", there are some more examples:

  • Athletics events happen on the track and on the open road (marathons).
  • Professional cycling happens both in velodromes and on the open road.
  • Canoeing/kayaking happens on both flat and downhill courses.
  • Equestrian events happen both in the arena (dressage/show jumping) and outside (cross-country).
  • Volleyball happens both indoors and on sand.
  • Other possibilities which I'll have to do some research for are include (field) hockey (any professional matches on natural turf?) and cricket (top-level matches must be on natural turf, but there is provision for other surfaces in the rules). – Philip Kendall Jan 24 '16 at 23:37
  • Field hockey hasn't been played on natural grass at the professional or national level for decades. FIH regulations require that all matches be on artificial surface of a very high standard, and national organisations often mandate this for their major competitions. – Nij Feb 25 '16 at 11:39

Athletics (track and field) is contested across several surfaces.

The "road" disciplines are contested on city streets (concrete, tarmac, etc.) and cross-country is in parks (grass, rocks, trails, etc.), but those could be argued to be different from track and field.

Within specific disciplines, several events are contested on different surfaces. Most notably, track events may be contested on 400m unbanked outdoor tracks and 200m banked (or unbanked) indoor tracks, even though the actual track surface may be the same indoors and out. The shot put uses different equipment indoor and out because the shot is put into a sector marked in sand or grass outdoors, but is usually landing on a hard (or lightly padded) floor indoors. The characteristics of the runways used for the pole vault, triple jump and long jump can vary significantly from indoors to outdoors.

Leaving aside the indoor/outdoor distinction, while all-weather synthetic surfaces are now the norm in athletics, until Mexico City in 1968 the Olympic track events were still contested on packed "cinder" tracks (with interesting results in Tokyo, where rainy weather made the inside lane of the track soft and uneven late in the distance races). Also, some grass tracks are still maintained, although not often used for competition these days. The rules of the sport allow for all of these surfaces.


Just another sport apart from the ones Philip Kendall mentioned, is cricket. While the outfield has to be of grass, the pitch can be of varied types. The condition of the pitch can vary from a green top to a completely dry,dusty surface. Like tennis, the different conditions of the pitches will suit different players/teams.

The various types of pitches include: (non-exhaustive)

  • Green top (significant grass cover)
  • Hard (bouncy surfaces)
  • Dry (dry grass cover)
  • Dusty (dry without any grass cover)
  • Sticky (comparatively wet, generally due to rainy weather)
  • Is there any professional cricket played on non-turf pitches these days? My memory says some Indian matches were playing on matting in the early 1980s, but I don't believe that's still true today. – Philip Kendall Jan 25 '16 at 9:34
  • Nope. Professional cricket requires natural pitches. Some club level matches do take place on matting. But once you get to state-level, natural pitches are mandatory. – ʀᴇᴅ_ᴅᴇᴠɪʟ226 Jan 25 '16 at 10:15

Rugby union is now played at the national and international level on grass and also 3G artificial pitches.

  • Could you give an example of a professional union match being played on an artificial surface? – Philip Kendall Mar 9 '16 at 17:27
  • Saracens use it regularly in the Aviva premiership [Sarries Pitch] (google.co.uk/…) – Ben Whyall Mar 9 '16 at 17:29

SQUASH is an example.

there are several playing surfaces:

  • wood
  • concrete
  • plaster
  • rubber panel(rare)
  • glass(rare)

More details can be found here.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.