Sport Parks, Skateparks, Skating Rinks and Sport Fields: On-line Lesson

This Module will cover information about outdoor sport courts and fields. It will include technical information and describe types of materials used in their construction.

Tennis Court Designs

Tennis Court Dimensions

General Specifications
bulletCourt orientation; year round play long axis northwest to southeast 22 degrees off true north. April-October play, long axis is north to south.
bulletSlope; a slope of .05% to .15% is acceptable depending on the type of surface. Courts should be sloped side to side or  end to end.
bulletDimensions: singles (78' long x 36' wide), doubles (minimum space 122' x 66')
bulletFence: 6 or 9 gauge, 10' or 12' high, posts no more than 10' apart.

Types of Courts

Porous: allows water to drain through the court surface.
bulletSoft composition
bulletPorous concrete
tennis.jpg (24159 bytes)
Non-porous: does not allow water to drain through the court surface.
bulletAsphalt (cushioned and non-cushioned)
bulletHard Composition (liquid applied synthetic)

Selection Considerations

  1. Initial cost
  2. Maintenance cost
  3. Amount of use
  4. Geographic location
  5. Maintenance personnel needed
  6. Type/age of players
  7. Level of competition

Paddle Tennis

Paddle Tennis Court Dimensions

General Specifications
bulletCourt orientation; year round play long axis northwest to southeast 22 degrees off true north. April-October play, long axis is north to south.
bulletSlope; a slope of .05% to .15% is acceptable depending on the type of surface. Courts should be sloped side to side or  end to end.
bulletDimensions: singles (65' 7 7/16" long x 32' 9 3/4" wide), with a 1% tolerance level.
bulletEnclosure, paddle court is completely enclosed by back walls (32' 9 3/4" wide, and between 9' 10 1/8" and 13' 1 1/2" high) sidewalls (13' 1 1/2" from the back wall, they decrease in height from 9' 10 1/8" to 5' at a 38 degree angle), and fencing.

Paddle Tennis Publications

Paddle Court Surfaces
bullethard court (concrete, asphalt)
bulletartificial grass

Platform Tennis

Platform Tennis Court Dimensions

General Specifications
bulletCourt orientation; year round play long axis northwest to southeast 22 degrees off true north. April-October play, long axis is north to south.
bulletSlope; a slope of .05% to .15% is acceptable depending on the type of surface. Courts should be sloped side to side or  end to end.
bulletDimensions: singles (44' long x 20' wide), Total surface is 68' x 38' or 2584 square feet.
bulletFence: 16 gauge hexagonal, galvanized, one-inch flat wire mesh fabric, 12' high, posts no more than 10' apart.
bulletDeck surface is Douglas Fir planks 2x6
bulletAll space around the platform is covered with wire, except for a 12' opening in the center of each side which is covered with netting.


Badminton Court Diagram

General Specifications
bulletCourt orientation; year round play long axis northwest to southeast 22 degrees off true north. April-October play, long axis is north to south.
bulletSlope; a slope of .05% to .15% is acceptable depending on the type of surface. Courts should be sloped side to side or  end to end.
bulletDimensions: singles (44' long x 17' wide), Doubles court 44' x 20'.
bulletCourt marking are 1.5 inches wide.
bulletSafety distance, 8' unobstructed behind the back boundary line and 5' on each sideline or between courts.


General Specifications
bulletCourt orientation; year round play long axis northwest to southeast 22 degrees off true north. April-October play, long axis is north to south.
bulletSlope; a slope of .05% to .15% is acceptable depending on the type of surface. Courts should be sloped side to side or  end to end.
bulletDimensions (Junior high, high school and recreation play): 84' long x 50' wide
bulletCourt marking are 2 inches wide.
bulletSafety distance, 10' or a minimum or 8' unobstructed behind the back boundary line and a minimum of 6' on each sideline or between courts.
bulletThree point arch, 19' 9" from the center of the basket.
bulletIn-ground pole should be padded,  off the playing court, and extend at least 4 feet onto the court.
bulletFence height, if used, should be 10'

Basketball Court Dimensions
bulletBasketball AAU
bulletBasketball NCAA

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Volleyball Court Dimensions

General Specifications
bulletCourt orientation; year round play long axis northwest to southeast 22 degrees off true north. April-October play, long axis is north to south.
bulletSlope; a slope of .05% to .15% is acceptable depending on the type of surface. Courts should be sloped side to side or  end to end.
bulletDimensions: traditional in the U.S. (60' long x 30' wide) or U.S. Volleyball rules (59' x 29.5'). Total area 80' x 50'
bulletDimensions (professional): 93' x 57'
bulletBoundary lines should be brightly colored 1/4" rope or 1 1/2" webbing. No center line is required (177' needed for court lines)
bulletNet height 7' 11 5/8" men's, 7' 4 1/8" women's, measured at the center of the playing court.
Age Groups Females/Reverse, Mixed 6 Males/Mixed 6
10 years and under 6' 6" 7'
12 years and under 7' 7'
14years and under 7' 4 1/8' 7' 4 1/8'
16years and under 7' 4 1/8' 7' 11 5/8"
18 and up 7' 4 1/8' 7' 11 5/8"
45 and up 7' 2 1/8" na

55 and up


7' 9 5/8"

bulletCourt marking are 2 inches wide.
bulletNet is 39" wide and a minimum of 32' long
bulletPosts should be padded up to 6'
bulletSafety distance, 9' 10" unobstructed behind the back boundary line and on each sideline or between courts.

volleyball_ct.jpg (22736 bytes) Sand Court Construction
bulletLeaching pipe (perforated) for drainage under the sand is necessary with a slant of 14 degrees. Wrap the pipe with flex wrap to keep sand from filling them.
bullet12" pea gravel #56, #57 or #2 or #3 placed over the drainage pipes (approximately 110 tons).
bulletPlace landscaping fabric over the pea gravel to keep sand from filtering into it.
bulletWashed beach, plaster, masonry, or river sand is preferred for the court sand. The best is silica sand.
bulletMinimum sand depth is 19 1/2" (205 tons of washed sand)
bulletPosts should be set at a slight angle outward form the court to offset the tension from the net.
bulletFor easy maintenance, place steel poles in steel sleeves for easy removal.
bulletPoles should be 14' long and buried 5'
bulletCost varies between $6,000 and $10,000 per court.

Shuffle Board

Shuffleboard Court Dimensions

General Specifications
bulletCourt orientation; long axis is north to south.
bulletSlope; a slope of .05% to .15% is acceptable depending on the type of surface. Courts should be sloped side to side.
bulletCourt dimensions: (39' long x 6' wide). Total dimensions (52' x 10')
bulletSafety area of 6' at both ends of the court and 2' along the sidelines.
bulletPlaying lines should be 1 inch wide and brightly colored.
bulletTriangle, 10 off area is 3" at the base
bulletLighting is with a 20 inch hinged pole with a 1500-watt quartzite floodlight

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Croquet Court Dimensions

General Specifications (Six Wicket)
bulletDimensions: (105' long x 84' wide)
bulletThe stake is set in the center of the court, inner wickets are set 21' to the north and south of the stake, outer wickets are 21' from the adjacent boundary.

General Specifications (Nine Wicket)
bulletDimensions: (100' long x 85'wide)

Field Spaces and Bleachers

Sport fields represent the largest area of land dedicated to recreation facilities. Issues surrounding sport field development are:


Appropriate available acreage


Lighting for security or playing field


Proximity of amenities, recreation center, concessions, bathrooms, etc.


Field design based on type and level of use


Size of the field should always include a minimum of a 10 yard safety buffer around the perimeter.


No streets/railroad tracks/waterways/trenches/settlement pond/storage yard should be located closer than 100 yards to a facility or field


Excessive noise, smoke, odor, and dust should be avoided.


Perimeter should be fenced or landscaped to keep players and spectators separated.


Games of softball ands baseball have three primary cautions (foul balls, home runs, and overthrows)

Types of Field Turf

  1. Synthetic Surface: rubber, polymer, pigment, PVC, thermset, or thermoplastic. They require a substrate which consists usually of crushed gravel or sand. Synthetic fields have a higher initial cost but eliminate most of the maintenance costs, water, mowing, aerating, herbicides, and replacement of worn sod, associated with a natural field. Also, games do not have to be cancelled due to wet fields. Life expectancy is around 15 years. Example FieldTurf. The earlier concerns about increased injuries on synthetic surfaces has been greatly reduced in recent years with improvements in the field materials and construction.


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FieldTurf Synthetic Field Surface

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Natural Turf Field

  1. Natural: Sport fields are  special facilities. When natural turf is chosen, a sports turf specialist is needed to oversee the development of a total field management program (Lewis, 1994). A comprehensive program should include the following:

    1) selecting an adapted grass for the locality;
    2) mowing this selected grass at proper height and frequency;
    3) fertilizing at the proper time and rate according to the turfgrass growth;
    4) irrigating as needed to encourage establishment and to reduce stress periods;
    5) aerifying to relieve compaction or dethaching according to the turf and the amount of play; and
    6) using the appropriate preemergence and post emergence herbicides. The goal is to first produce a vigorous turf that will be competitive to the weeds (Lewis, W. (1994). Weeding Out Unwanted Growth: Weed problems on athletic fields can be nipped in the bud by implementing a total weed management program. Athletic Management, 6, (3), 28).

artificial_turf_chart.gif (168273 bytes)

Chart courtesy of FieldTurf, Inc.

Bleacher Seating Materials








synthetics (plastic)

Bleacher Guidelines

  1. Bleachers must meet ADA guidelines,

  2. Have railings at the sides and top,

  3. Enclose area under each row of bleachers to keep children from falling through,

  4. Enclose the structure to be able to use the area under the bleachers for storage and prevent children go from climbing under them, and

  5. Provide aisles with railings for easier access.

bleachers.jpg (31571 bytes)


Lighting is usually controversial issue for most recreation and sport fields. It increases the initial cost but offer opportunities to increase the use of the field and generate more revenue. Residents near a proposed field need to be included in the planning process to reduce political conflicts.

Multipurpose sport fields are more complicated, but more cost effective, to light than single purpose fields. However, most new field construction combine activities to maximize the use and minimize the acreage needed. There should be no shadows, glare, or irregular bright patches on the playing field. All lighting poles must be located outside the playing area.

Planning for Lighting should include:

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bullet"Determine the layout of the field and all its potential uses. The most common multipurpose fields combine football with soccer, or football or soccer with softball" (Rogers, 1996, p. 51).
bulletDetermine the quantity (level) as well as the quality needed (Rogers, 1996). The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) publishes the Sports and Recreational Area Lighting guidelines.
bulletDetermine the type of lamp desired (Rogers, 1996). Figure 11.3 (textbook, page 113) shows comparisons of typical lighting systems.
bulletDetermine the number of luminaire assemblies (luminaire assemblies consist of lamp reflector, ballast mounting, crossarm and mounting hardware and poles required to light the playing surfaces while avoiding spill and glare (Rogers, 1996).
bulletDecide on the type of poles to be used: wood, concrete, and steel are the standard options. Each has advantages and disadvantages.
bulletConsider all aspects of safety. The lighting system must comply with the National Electric Code as well as state and local codes and use luminaire assemblies that have the Underwriters Laboratory approval (Rogers, 1996).
bulletEstablish switching controls that allow for maximum flexibility and maximum efficiency.
bulletRecalling that some activities require more lighting than others, switches should afford higher and lower levels of illumination. 'Switching capacity becomes even more important with overlapping fields" (Rogers, 1996, p. 54).


Lighting levels (No Standards Exist, Only Recommended Practices, Guidelines, Etc.). 

Lighting level - An easy way to understand lighting levels is consider it the amount of light falling on a surface. It is measured in either footcandles or lux (1 footcandle N 10 lux).

IESNA - Illuminating Engineering Society of North America. This group has established recommended criteria for various types of illumination for given uses. IESNA is generally regarded as _reference for defining lighting design parameters.

IESNA RP-6-01 - Recommended Practice 6-01 for Sports and Recreational Area Lighting. Since the project inception, IESNA RP-6-01 has been the design parameter used for the Thorpe field lighting.

Class of Play & Facilities - "In general, as the skill level is elevated, players and spectators require a better and more sophisticated luminous environment. A correlation exists between the size of a facility arid the level of play. e.g., a higher skill level attracts a greater number of spectators. As the number of spectators increases their distance from the playing surface increases and their need for increased illuminance to see players and tasks requires the values to increase. Accordingly, facilities should be designed to satisfy the most talented players and accommodate the greatest potential spectator capacity." IESNA RP-6-01

To determine illumination levels IESNA groups facilities into one of four Classes based upon the skill levels of players and the anticipated number of spectators.


Class I     Competition play before a large group > 5,000 - 10,000


Class II    Competition play with facilities for up to 5,000 spectators


Class III   Competition play with some spectator facilities


Class IV   Competition or recreational play only (no provisions for spectators)

Illuminance Criteria - Recommended illuminance levels per RP-6-01

Coefficient of
Coefficient of
Class I 150 100 < 1.3:1 < 1.7:1 < 0.07 < 0.13
Class II 100 70 < 1.5:1 < 2.0:1 < 0.10 < 0.17
Class III 50 30 < 2.0:1 < 2.5:1 < 0.17 < 0.21
Class IV 30 20 < 2.5:1 < 3.0:1 < 0.21 < 0.25

Uniformity (Horizontal) - "Uniformity is a measure of relationships of illuminance over an area. It is particularly important for high speed sports on a large playing field, such as baseball, football, ice hockey and tennis. Poor uniformity, especially shadows, may distort the visual perception of tasks both in speed and in position, thus affecting player performance." IESNA RP-6-01

Uniformity ratio and the coefficient of variation are both methods to express uniformity and to evaluate an installation.

Most recreation agencies use Class III or Class IV lighting levels for their sport facilities.

Illumination Levels:

Baseball & softball = 20 foot-candles (outfield) and 30 foot-candles (infield)

Soccer, rugby, football, lacrosse = 30 foot-candles

Orientation of Fields

Baseball & softball fields should be oriented with the axis (line between home plate to second base) determine the suns position at sunrise, early morning, late afternoon, and sunset. The orientation of the field should avoid the catcher or pitcher from facing directly into the early morning or late afternoon sun.

Soccer, rugby, football, lacrosse fields should be oriented north to south.


Youth fields need a four foot fence, interscholastic fields need an eight foot fence.

drain.jpg (23152 bytes) Drainage

The ability of a field to drain quickly reduces the number of games that have to be cancelled due to wet fields. Playing on wet turf will destroy the sod and increase the replacement costs. Playing field should be crowned (1/4" per foot towards the sideline drainage area) to allow runoff.

Three Types of Irrigation Systems
bulletunderground with sprinkler heads throughout the field,
bulletunderground with sprinkler heads on the perimeter of the field, or
bulletabove ground with portable piping and sprinkler heads or hoses.

The planners of the irrigation system need to consider the following elements:

(1) The safety of the participant (i.e., perimeter or within-field sprinkler layout ,
(2) Types of sprinkler heads,
(3) The watering pattern layout (i.e., the number of overlapping zones based on the available water pressure, to reach all areas of the field evenly),
(4) The source wells with a pumping system or government private water company),
(5) A timing system,
(6) A plan for winterizing in clod climates,
(7) Tie-ins for drinking fountains and hose bibs, and
(8) The possibility of a liquid fertilization option. (Mittelstaedt, 1999)

sprinkler.jpg (22611 bytes)

Sports Fields for Special Needs Participants - Miracle Field
The Miracle Field is not only a baseball field, but it includes an entire environment suited for special needs youth and ball players. The field itself has a rubberized synthetic turf allowing wheelchairs and walkers to glide unrestricted in addition to the accessible dugouts and bleachers. The environment encompasses a control center with wheelchair and walker accessible restrooms & water fountains, an all accessible press box, a special needs accessible playground, and a pavilion for family and community fellowship.

Field Dimensions
10,568 sq. feet = playing field

15,102 sq. feet = field including dugouts and foul areas

Baseline: 50 feet

Home Plate line to fence at center field: 115 feet or 125 feet

Baseline to dugout: 21 feet

Pitcher’s mound to home plate: 33 feet

Maximum Field Size – 125 feet (Home plate to center field fence). Any larger field will not allow these children the opportunity of hitting the ball over the fence.

Field Turf
The Miracle League teams play on a custom-designed, synthetic rubberized Turf field that accommodates wheelchairs and other assertive devices while helping to prevent injuries.

Reference: & Miracle Field (sports field for special needs youth)



Sports Field Space Requirements

Baseball/Softball Field Design Considerations

Field specifications will vary depending on the type and level of the users. Various organizations have rule books with this information. These include:

Amateur Softball Association

Miracle Field (sports field for special needs youth)

National Federation of High School Activities Association

National Collegiate Athletic Association

National Association of Intercollegiate Athletic

National Junior College Athletic Association

Softball USA

Independent Softball Association

International Senior Softball Association

National Softball Association

National Association for Girls and Women's Sports

Little League Association

Baseball/Softball Field Considerations

bulletTypes of bases (modified stationary, release-type, throw-down, specialized)
bulletTypes of Home Plate (buried, staked, anchored, throw-down)
bulletSkinned infield: begin outfield 20' behind infield bases
bulletClay most common infield surface (skinned)
bulletNatural turf for infield/outfield should be Tifway II Bermuda grass and overseeded with Topflite perennial ryegrass (Mittelstaedt, 1999, p.322)
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Backstop Designs

Purposes of the backstop are:
bulletkeeping the ball in the playing field
bulletprotecting spectators/and players
bulletprotecting adjacent areas form pop-up or foul balls.

Common Backstop Designs
bullet3 12' panels 18' to 20 ' high
bullet1 1/2" galvanized wire mesh
bulletside panels flare 30 degrees with the center panel
bulletfencing gradually tapers down to 8' behind the players bench
bullettop of backstop has 3 panels 4' to 6' by 12' attached to the upright panels at a 45 degree angle and covered with 1 1/2" wire mesh.

When designing the backstop, the planners should consider the following:

(1) using small mesh to discourage people from climbing the structure;
(2) ensuring the parking and traffic areas are not close;
(3) installing a double mesh to prevent fingers, faces, and other body parts of spectators from being crushed by errant balls or thrown bats;
(4) keeping the mesh free from any barbs or penetrating parts to ensure safety for players and spectators;
(5) ensuring the distance between home plate and the backstop is not less than 25 feet but preferably 60 feet to ensure player safety;
(6) using ground materials of either turf with an appropriate warning track composed of clay or crushed granite (M-10) or crushed brick, or no turf with either clay or crushed granite (M-10) or crushed brick; and
(7) ensuring the height of the backstop is at least 18 feet, preferably 20 feet, with a four- to six-foot overhang at the top with a 45' angle.  (Mittelstaedt, 1999, p.326)


Skatepark liability: Modern skateparks are better designed, bigger and safer than the skateparks of the 1970's and 1980's. Insurance companies do not view contemporary skateparks  as high risk for government agencies. Depending on state laws libility concerns may be reduced by operating unsupervised skateparks. A "skate at your own risk" policy. Nationally, skateboarding is one of the safest outdoor recreation activities.

General Planning Criteria

bulletLocation: Choice of location should be based on the following items:
  1. potential usage
  2. size of site
  3. access to public transportation
  4. site drainage
  5. availability of public utilities
  6. noise levels
  7. nuisance abatement
  8. spectator seating
  9. emergency access

1970's remodeled swimming pool turned skate park

bulletSafety: Appropriate design features will reduce injuries and include:
  1. safe spectator areas
  2. minimum maintenance site
  3. clear sight lines
  4. protective netting or barriers to prevent serious falls and flying skateboards
  5. safety lighting
  6. emergency access
  7. environmental elements (wind, sun, rain, snow, lightning etc.)
  8. shaded areas
  9. drinking fountains and rest rooms
bulletOther Considerations
  1. night lighting
  2. inline skates or BMX use
  3. noise and light spillover to neighbors
  4. north to south orientation


Types of Materials Used in Skateparks

bulletWood: Least expensive but requires high maintenance (masonite, plywood, skatelite, or birch)
bulletSteel: More expensive than wood but skate features are bolted on a flat concrete pad.
bulletConcrete: May be in-ground or above ground. Most expensive and permanent features. Low maintenance.

Skatepark Features/Obstacles

bullet Benches and Tables
bullet Bank Ramps
bullet Bauer Boxes, Ollie Boxes, Manual Pads
bullet Launch Ramps
bullet Pyramids
bullet Quarter Pipes
bullet Rails, Rail Slides, Bank Rails
bullet Roll-Ins
bullet Spine Ramps

Source: sk8parks International

Skatepark Design

Related Web Sites:

sk8parks International: Skate park designs.

Tony Hawk Foundation: Helping fund public skate parks nationwide.

Public Skatepark Development Guide


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