The purpose of this paper is to discuss some biomechanical aspects of playing surfaces with special focus on (a) surface induced injuries, (b) methodologies used to assess surfaces and (c) findings from various sports. The paper concentrates primarily on questions related to load on the athlete's body. Data from epidemiological studies suggest strongly that the surface is an important factor in the aetiology of injuries. Injury frequencies are reported to be significantly different for different surfaces in several sports. The methodologies used to assess surfaces with respect to load or performance include material tests and tests using experimental subjects. There is only little correlation between the results of these two approaches. Material tests used in many standardized test procedures are not validated which suggests that one should exercise restraint in the interpretation of these results. Point elastic surfaces are widely studied while area elastic surfaces have received little attention to date. Questions of energy losses on sport surfaces have rarely been studied scientifically.
Keywords: Playing surfaces, load, performance, material tests, subject tests, energy loss