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This wikipedia section has good details about the changes bought about in hockey after artificial turfs were introduced. This change also bought about a shift in hockey power base from Asian countries to European countries.

But my question is, why were artificial turfs introduced in the first place? Were there any significant disadvantages with natural grass and hockey?

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Dow has a page regarding the history of artificial turf in regards to hockey:

Artificial grass based on polyamide/nylon material was introduced on field hockey pitches in the 1970s. It was ideal for field hockey as the synthetic turf pitches provided a flatter playing surface than natural grass. This in turn provided better ball control as it prevented the ball from shooting off into various directions. Sand was spread between the fibers to create enough firmness and stability for the players. These key characteristics resulted in artificial turf being used for field hockey games in the 1976 Olympics and the Eight Nations field hockey tournament.

I have not seen any other historical accounts that described why the change was made, but one can assume that the consistency of the playing surface and the increased durability of artificial turf compared to natural grass were major reasons for the shift.

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Grass fields can get torn up easily especially if the ground is wet. This also can make for dangerous playing conditions. A synthetic surface does not have this same draw back. It is much easier to prepare a synthetic surface than a natural grass field. The field will maintain consistent quality throughout the match. Maintaining a natural field is expensive. Introducing an artificial field would make it possible to have a nice clean field to play with out the heavy grounds-keeping required.

In the 1970's Artificial turf took off in many outdoor sports due to its perfectly groomed appearance, ease of care, and the fascination with anything that was man-made replacements of nature. In the 80's that fad wore off and many sports returned to the natural grass.

The biggest disadvantage is probably the occurance of turf toe. However modern shoes, and improved surfaces reduce the risk from the early days

Typically with turf toe, the injury is sudden. Its most commonly is seen in athletes playing on artificial surfaces, which are harder than grass surfaces and to which cleats are more likely to stick. It can also happen on a grass surface, especially if the shoe being worn doesn't provide adequate support for the foot. Often the injury occurs in athletes wearing flexible soccer-style shoes that let the foot bend too far forward.

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Artificial turf is now a permanent feature in the hockey world. With the introduction of artificial turf in the 1970 s, hockey has become much faster, more exciting and consequently more popular. The rules have been amended and techniques refined as the synthetic sports surface has become an essential part of the sport.

  • The main reason for having artificial turf is that there is no need to maintain this because since it is plastic but natural grass has to maintain frequently.
  • An artificial turf hockey surface gives you all the room you need to make fast passes with precise ball control.
  • Hockey players enjoy the comfortable cushioning and don’t have to worry about injuries from serious slides. Uniform playing characteristics, predictable ball behaviour and optimal grip make artificial turf the ideal surface for hockey.
  • Artificial turf pitches that are suitable for competitions at world-class level have earned FIH Global Quality Approval.
  • The grass will not grow and the evenness will remain intact for as long as 10-15 years atleast.
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    The question was why were they introduced, not a discussion of what has changed since their mandated introduction. – Unsliced Feb 21 '12 at 11:53
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    It's so obvious,artificial turf has lots of benefit when compare to natural grass.That's why artificial turf has been introduced.so that, i've mentioned the advantages of artificial turf. – Vijin Paulraj Feb 21 '12 at 12:38
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    If it's obvious why aren't all sports played on it? The question asked specifically about hockey - there are almost no facts in this answer. When did the FIH introduce the rules? What prompted them to do it? What were some of the incidents that caused them to adopt the proposal? – Unsliced Feb 21 '12 at 13:30
  • Injuries from slides are surely worse on astro compared to grass. – richaux Feb 24 '12 at 8:27

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