Tennis Evolution: How Rule Changes May Help the Sport Remain Relevant
It is not at all uncommon for sports to evolve over time. Sometimes this happens to accommodate changes in technology, requests from players and owners, or a need to deliver what the public now wants from a sport. The latter reason is behind some proposed tennis rule changes announced recently.
The longest professional tennis match took place in 2010. John Isner and Nicholas Mahut battled it out over the course of three days before the former finally triumphed. In all, the contest lasted a staggering 11 hours and 5 minutes.
However, as the Wall Street Journal reported, the actual tennis playing accounted for less than two hours of that time.
With attention spans shortening and so many entertainment options available, there is concern that both current and potential viewers may not watch professional tennis as we know it. The proposed solution? Speed things up.
Association of Tennis Professionals President Chris Kermode feels these suggested changes are, "not only about the next generation of players, but also about the next generation of fans."
"We will be sure to safeguard the integrity of our product when assessing if any changes should eventually be carried forward onto regular ATP World Tour events in the future," he says.
Here are the proposed rule alterations:
The number of seeds would drop from 32 to 16. The idea here is to make the early matches more exciting due to the higher caliber of players. Viewers would become hooked from the beginning and then keep watching right through the championship.
First to six game sets would drop to first to four, with a tiebreaker resolving a 3-3 deadlock. Also, a sudden death deuce point (allowing the receiver to choose their court side) would replace so-called advantage scoring. Sets would be best of five.
Reduced Starting Time
Once the second player steps onto the court, the match must begin in five minutes, down from the previous ten.
Already tested at the U.S. Open qualifying and the Next Gen ATP Finals, this would ensure players adhere to the 25-second rule between serves. The clock would also time the warm-up, set breaks, and medical timeouts.
A no-let rule for serving.
Player and Coach Communication
While communication would still be possible between players and coaches at certain points during the match, the latter could no longer step onto the court.
Electronic Line Calling
There would be only the chair umpire on the court. An electronic line calling system would signal unsuccessful serves and when the ball is out, replacing its human equivalent.
Increased Spectator Freedom
Elimination of the rule restricting spectators from coming or going during a match.
Kermode stated that these alterations should not alienate the current fanbase. A shorter format and faster pace may well stop people from changing channels, but that remains to be seen. If these come to pass, it will certainly be interesting to gauge player reactions, particularly veterans who made their reputations via the traditional form of play.
Changing demographics are also clearly a factor. As the veterans who reliably drew viewers enter retirement, executives hope to attract a younger demographic to the sport. The thinking is that a swifter game, and not just exciting personalities, is key to making that change.
Indoor sport facilities, whether they be air supported or brick and mortar, all have one thing in common: artificial turf.
Grass doesn’t grow inside—unless you have a very sophisticated setup—so artificial grass is the closest you can get.
Turf technology, though, has come a long way to reproducing the actual feel of real grass, so much so that many outdoor fields have opted for artificial over real grass.
But there are still differences between artificial turf and the real thing, so you’ll need to consider these before kitting yourself up for the winter indoor season. Traditional soccer cleats can do damage and without a surface that grows and repairs itself, this is an issue for any indoor sport field maintenance crew.
The shoes you wear on turf need to be gentle on the surface, but still give you the support and balance needed to compete, so here are some tips on picking out the best shoes to play your indoor sport.
1. Buy Actual Turf Shoes
This tip is pretty obvious, but a lot of players still think that their regular sneakers will do just fine on artificial turf. The reality is that actual turf shoes are designed to give you the most grip and manoeuverability on artificial turf surfaces.
Outdoor cleats shouldn’t be worn (and are likely not allowed) on artificial turf as the aggressive spikes can create holes or tears in the turf which then need to be repaired.
Turf shoes will typically have short rubber spikes, instead of cleat spikes, that are grouped closer together. These will bite into the surface and give you the traction you need, without damaging the turf.
Try out a few pairs before buying though, as too much grip can be a bad thing as well. A small amount of slide isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and depending on the sport, you might want to be able to slide around. Like for slide tackling the ball in soccer.
3. Proper fit
As with any shoe, making sure it fits properly is important for comfort and function. Make sure they fit right when you buy them and keep in mind that you won’t need to use thicker socks to keep your feet warm. Playing inside means the temperature won’t be an issue when deciding which footwear to buy and you won’t need to consider any added insulation.
4. Avoid wearing them Outside (If You Can)
While turf shoes might also work well on grass, you may want to avoid wearing them on other hard outdoor surfaces.
Being mostly rubber, you’ll likely wear out the small rubber spikes faster, making them not work as well when you’re back playing on turf.
If you’re going to be playing sports indoors this winter, don’t forget to use the proper gear. Especially if you’re competitive and want to gain an edge, having the proper shoes just might do it.
Indoor sports fields and artificial turf are a great option for playing sports during the winter, but unless you have the right equipment, you might not enjoy the experience as well as you could!
Early in the decision to build an air dome, a common question is, “Is this a good spot for a dome?” Odds are that, yes, you can build an air dome there, and yes, we’ve most likely already done it before.
Whether it be a lone bubble in the middle of an empty field, or a dome squeezed into the heart of a city, domes are remarkably adaptable. Because of the simplicity of the design, it’s actually a lot easier to get a dome into some places than to build something out of steel and bricks.
Dome in the Suburbs
Air supported structures are appealing when you’re looking to build something big. And the best place to build something big is where you have a lot of space. The problem though, is that building something large like an indoor sports complex, can be a challenge.
Big buildings typically need lots of materials, lots of time, and lots of money. This isn’t true for an air supported structure, though. Domes don’t need near as many materials to build. After the foundation is built, the fabric for an air dome takes up very little room at all. This makes them ideal for transporting long distances.
Dome in the City
Modern cities are so jam-packed that it’s hard to fit in anything new, especially when it’s something as big as an air dome. That doesn’t mean we haven’t done it, though.
Air domes work remarkably well in areas that you typically wouldn’t be able to use for very much else. For example, cities need a lot of space for the number of people that flock to them at specific times of year, so why not use that space for a temporary structure when the space isn’t needed?
Parks and sports fields in cities get plenty of use in the summer, but usually those spaces remain unused for the winter. Seasonal domes in cities make perfect sense to make use of precious space throughout the year.
The Farley Group have also squeezed domes into unique spaces that wouldn’t otherwise be used for very much. For example, on top of buildings or under bridges.
New York is one of the biggest cities in the world, so when looking for places to build indoor sport facilities, Farley air domes fit right in. We have completed rooftop installations and even a dome that sits under the Queensboro Bridge, the Roosevelt Island Racquet club.
By thinking outside the box, air supported structures can bring indoor sport to even the most crowded of spaces. And being a non-permanent structure, it leaves flexibility for any reason that you might need.
Still not sure if an air dome can work for you? Have a look through some of the other domes we’ve completed over the years, or better yet, contact us today to find out if we can provide a solution that you might not have ever thought of!
Not sure if it’s worth the investment for an air structure? If you’re mulling it over, or even just wondering why it would be a good idea, here are 5 reasons to install a bubble over your sports field.
1. Cost Effective
For price per square foot of usable space, air domes are one of the best bangs for your buck. Fewer materials and a simplified building process means that you spend a fraction of the cost of a similar size brick and mortar sports facility.
If all you need is a big indoor space to play indoor sports, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more cost-effective solution. For a quick overview of dome pricing, check out our white paper on the topic.
2. Temporary or Permanent
Once the grade beam is in place, installing or taking down an air dome can be done on an as needed basis. Many fields convert to indoor facilities for the winter, and switch back to outdoor fields for the summer.
It’s the best of both worlds.
3. Fully Customizable
Because we need to build each dome to fit the space and requirements of different locations and sports, every dome package is fully customizable. Whether it’s a dome for tennis, or it needs to cover an entire football field, The Farley Group can build it to your needs.
The dome itself can even be customized with logos, colors, signs, or advertisements. Whatever you want to see on the side of the dome, we’ve got you covered!
4. Infinite Uses
Unlike other types of construction, domes can create massive clear span spaces that aren’t obstructed by things like supporting walls or poles. This means you end up with wide open room to do anything that you could think of.
A dome covered soccer field could be used for any number of field sports like field hockey, football, lacrosse, or even dodgeball.
And you might even have some outside-the-box uses such as paintballing or a party space you can fill with games and bouncy castles. Pretty much anything you can do outside can easily translate into a dome!
5. Domes are Cool
Last but not least, one of the best reasons to build an air dome is for the wow-factor. Seeing an air dome inflate for the first time is an impressive thing and is sure to amaze even the most difficult to impress people.
Stepping inside of a dome for the first time is an experience in and of itself. With large domes, it often seems counterintuitive to see such a large indoor space.
So, if you’re unsure of whether a dome might be right for you and one of the above reasons spoke to you, feel free to drop us a line or keep researching our site. We’ve created one of the most informational air dome sites right here, so read on if you’d like to learn more.
Air supported domes provide climate-controlled comfort all-year-round, allowing users to play any sport they like at any time. Of course, this means the playing surfaces have no access to rain or sunlight and, therefore, must be artificial.
However, this does not mean indoor grounds are maintenance-free. Artificial turf requires its own form of special care that also applies when it is used inside domes.
You have probably seen paths worn into parks and other areas where people and bicycles have crossed repeatedly over the same spot. Artificial turf can similarly wear if there is too much repetitive activity, such as training drills where the participant is running back and forth on the field. Proper planning and scheduling ensures these drills do not always take place in the same area of the dome.
2. Regular Inspections
A worn or uneven playing surface can negatively impact almost any kind of sport, so artificial turf requires regular inspections to maintain the integrity and safety of the playing field. Such close observation of the surface can also detect any potential problems before they reach a point where the users’ enjoyment suffers.
While there is no need to worry about leaves, sticks, or other debris, indoor turf still requires periodic cleaning and grooming to maintain a clean, flat surface free of obstructions. Mother Nature cleanses outdoor fields with rain; indoor surfaces need human attention to deal with things that should not be there. Good old-fashioned soap and water will remove things such as soda and coffee stains, alcohol, chocolate, ice cream, and paint. Cleaning solvents can usually handle any tougher stains that remain.
If chewing gum is ground into the surface, it is not just a matter of removing “grass” — those areas require special attention. Freon aerosol spray will help loosen the gum, which then becomes easy to remove without causing damage.
Unlike its outdoor counterpart, it is important to remove stray organic matter from indoor turf to prevent moss growth.
Artificial grass is shipped in large, heavy rolls that cause the turf to become flattened out. Grooming, in this case, does not involve mowing, but rather going over the surface with a power broom. This helps make the turf look robust and like natural grass. During the course of regular use, the turf can again become flat, requiring occasional extra passes with the broom.
There is also equipment available that adds rakes (for leveling the infill) and rotating tines (for aerating, which loosens the infill), providing the best all-around maintenance routine. The amount of times these operations occur each year varies according to manufacturer recommendation. Using a handheld spring-tine rake on the surface can also help level the infill material.
Grooming that takes place at the start of the season often occurs before the bubble goes up simply because it allows the groundskeepers a bit more room to do their job.
Cleaning is also important for health reasons. While certain microbes decompose without issue on real grass, the same does not occur on artificial turf. Commercial cleaners for this purpose are available, though a bleach mixture can also be just as effective. Apply either of these options using a pressurized spray.
The Role of a General Contractor or Construction Manager in a Dome Project
Wondering why you’ll need a contractor for your dome project?
If you’re in the early stages of planning the construction of a dome, the process is no different from a traditional construction project. Even though domes go up faster and cost less than most structures, they still require careful planning, precise work, and proper permitting, like any real estate development project. For these tasks, an experienced contractor simply cannot be replaced.
When it comes to building a dome, The Farley Group works closely with your local general contractor or construction manager to get the job done as efficiently as possible. These professionals typically oversee all aspects of construction, and often take the lead on the planning and permitting phases as well.
Hiring a general contractor or construction manager, we know from experience, is the best way to accomplish the site work efficiently. Each project involves numerous steps and specialized work. It’s more than most of our customers can take on themselves, especially without prior construction experience. The task of coordinating the various sub-contractors is always best left to an experienced, professional general contractor.
Here are some of the responsibilities of a contractor in the dome construction process:
Approvals and Permitting
Contractors help get the project off the ground. They lend their experience working under your local by-laws and building codes to help you plan the project, sort out zoning issues, and obtain the necessary building permits. Once these issues are dealt with, the site preparation and construction can begin.
Contractors are also needed to coordinate other local professionals that you’ll need for your project, like architects and engineers. Each municipality has their own unique process, and having the right team of professionals will keep your schedule on track during the planning and permitting phase.
Towards the end of construction, these professionals, including your contractor, also coordinate with the local building authority for required inspections and final approvals for occupancy of your facility.
You need more than an empty space to build a dome. Before construction begins, your contractor will handle the excavation and balancing of the building site, along with any site remediation necessary to ensure the land is safe to build on.
Once all permits and approvals are in place, construction on site can begin. Your general contractor or construction manager will oversee all site work, including the concrete grade beam anchoring system for the dome, the sub-base for the interior surface, and the concrete pads for the dome’s entry/exit points and mechanical equipment.
Our domes use complex mechanical systems to maintain a comfortable climate and adequate air pressure inside the structure. Contractors work with skilled subcontractors to ensure safe and reliable electrical service and distribution (including wiring for the dome’s mechanical controls), gas service and plumbing, and the final connections to energize the dome’s mechanical and lighting systems.
Contractors also handle the peripheral infrastructure for sewer and storm water management, and the installation of the parking lot and parking lot lighting. And, of course, if your facility plans also include a clubhouse building, your contractor will oversee its construction as well.
Why Use a General Contractor and/or a Construction Manager?
There’s a lot more to building an air-supported dome than simply putting it in place and inflating it with air. When you look at all the steps involved, it’s clear why we partner with experienced professionals. Constructing a dome, especially with large fieldhouse facilities, is a real development project.
Throughout the process, The Farley Group is here to help along the way. We collaborate with everyone involved in the project to ensure all parties are on the same page to build exactly what you’re looking for.
Why Indoor Tennis Season is the Best Time to Get a New Racquet
As the outdoor tennis season winds to a close, it’s time to move your tennis training indoors. It might also be time to look at getting some new gear. If you need to get a new racquet, now might be the perfect time to do so.
Can’t tell if you need a new racquet, though? Some of the tell-tale signs that it’s time to get a new one are:Why Indoor Tennis Season is the Best Time to Get a New Racquet
Dents and Damage—If your racket bounces off the ground enough times, there might be enough damage to the structural integrity that it might be better to get a new one than wait until it fails during a game.
Falling apart—When pieces start to fall off, it’s likely time to get a new one
Doesn’t feel right—It doesn’t always have to be the racket’s fault. Perhaps your game has changed or you feel you’ve outgrown your racquet. A racquet should match your style and if the one you’re using isn’t up to the task, you should get a new one.
Also keep in mind that your old racquet might just need to be re-strung. A good quality racquet can be restrung a good number of times before you have to move on. A good rule of thumb for how often to restring your racquet is to take the number of times you play per week, and that’s the number of times you should restring in a year. Of course, if you play hard and for long periods of time, you might want to double or even triple that.
Depending on your level of play though, you might be changing racquets every year, and if so here are a few tips to help you choose a racquet.
Get the Right Grip Size
Tennis racquet grips range in size from 4” to 5 5/8”. You probably already have an idea if a thinner or wider grip size feels right for you, but be sure to try out a slightly smaller or larger grip size. You might find a new preference.
Choose the Right Length
The standard racquet is 27” long but if you’re looking to add more power to your swing, you may want to go to a longer racquet. Of course, if you already have a preference, stick to what you know. Some players know the feel of exactly how much power to put in to get the shot they want, changing your racquet could throw this off.
Look for Signs of a Quality Racquet
Racquets come in all different shapes, sizes and materials as no racquet is perfect for everyone. Because of this, it’s hard to just point at a racquet and say, “that’s the best one that you should buy.”
A few signs of a quality racquet that you should look out for are that the racquet is strung with high quality strings, the brand is something you can recognize, and the racquet feels balanced in the hand.
There are plenty of other signs of a poor-quality racquet, but those should be obvious when you pick it up.
What it comes down to at the end of the day is that you should pick a racquet that fits your playing style and works well for you. Keep this in mind when you’re choosing a new racquet for this season of indoor tennis training. If you like your new racquet, you’ll be all set for next summer’s outdoor season!
How Long Does It Take to Build a Dome? The Timeline for Constructing an Air-Supported Structure
Thinking about a dome but not sure on the timing? While domes are not necessarily permanent structures and are quicker to construct than other building types, you can’t simply decide on a whim to put one up just anywhere.
Domes require significant site preparation and infrastructure and are subject to applicable building codes and permitting, as laid out by your local building authorities. The construction process might be quicker overall, but the planning and approvals can take just as long.
1. The Approvals Process
The approvals process can take several months, and possibly even a year, before your general contractor can begin site work and The Farley Group can begin fabricating your dome. It typically involves receiving site plan approval, sorting out any zoning issues (including any necessary variances), and the application and issuing of building permits.
For best results, we collaborate with your local team of professionals that know the area and its requirements. This is a proven way of speeding up the process and cutting through red tape.
Site construction typically begins in late spring or early summer for the project to be completed by the fall, so it is a good idea to start the approvals process as early as 12 months before.
2. Site Preparation
Just as with any kind of building, the site chosen for the dome almost always undergoes some initial preparation. This typically involves clearing of any debris, removal of old structures or foliage, and balancing of the land. Environmental remediation may also be required before new construction can begin. The site preparation process can be short or involved, depending upon the amount of work and the degree of difficulty. Of course, if your dome is going to be constructed over an existing field, bank of tennis courts, or a pool, then this phase of the project will be minimal.
3. Site Construction
Before we can erect the dome, it is necessary to lay the required groundwork. All site construction is contracted locally with a general contractor or construction manager and is performed by their sub-contractors. Most important here is the construction of the concrete grade beam, which is the anchoring system for the air-supported structure, along with concrete pads for peripheral components like entrances/exits, and the dome’s mechanical equipment.
This phase of the project also includes excavation and the preparation of the sub-base for the dome’s interior surface, plus installation of the electrical/gas infrastructure. The timeline here can vary from 4-6 weeks for smaller dome projects and up to 3 or 4 months for larger ones. Delays in this stage usually result from the installation/commission of utility services by the utility companies.
It is common for dome projects to simultaneously have the entrance/clubhouse building under construction. It is also during this stage that other site improvements occur. These can include adding sewer/storm water management infrastructure, creation of the parking lot and laneway, and installation of lighting for those areas.
4. The Interior Surface
Depending on the phasing of the project, completion of the interior surface could occur before or after installation of the dome. That interior surface can take 1-4 weeks, depending on the type of surface and size of the dome.
5. Installation of the Dome Package
Installation can occur following completion of work on the site. This installation process takes anywhere from just a few days for very small domes to a few weeks for large ones. The dome itself arrives to the site in sections that are rolled up into large bundles for shipping. These bundles are then strategically placed so they can be unrolled, spread out, and connected to one another and to the grade beam anchoring system around the whole perimeter of the dome’s footprint.
Once the dome is secured in place, it’s just a matter of inflation. Filling the dome with air and watching it rise is one of the most exciting parts and usually gathers a decent crowd because you can blink and miss it! The powerful inflation system can fill the dome from flat to full in just a few short hours.
After the dome is inflated and stabilized, the entry and exit components are installed and connected, along with the interior lighting system, the dome’s insulation material, and any other finishing touches that are required.
The facility must then pass final inspections before your building authority grants an occupancy permit. This will include not only the dome itself, but also the entrance building (if applicable) and any other aspects of the project that relate to the safety of the facility.
Overall, the typical dome construction timeline spans several months from breaking ground to being ready for public use. So, if you’re doing the math, you can see why it’s important to start planning early. While a dome can go up relatively quickly, there’s plenty of room for delays. Because building a dome is a team effort, a slowdown in one aspect of the project can bring the whole process to a standstill. This is where planning and experience make the difference as to whether a dome is ready or not for the season!
No athlete can be the best unless they have a solid plan, and put that plan into action. After all, you need to be in peak condition to perform well, regardless of the specific sport. So what commitments does every great athlete make? Well, there are five core commitments—drop one and be ready for your performance to drop as well.
Eating fast food, chips, candy, and other junk foods might taste good at first, but it does no favours to your body. This is why great athletes make the commitment to maintain a balanced and healthy diet. This includes lots of leafy greens, protein, and whole grains.
If you want to make the same kind of commitment, but don’t know where to start, we highly recommend consulting a registered dietician or nutritionist. In fact, most professional athletes consult one on a regular basis to ensure their diet stays on the right track for all their health and fitness needs.
Beyond practicing the sport itself, all great athletes make sure they exercise on a regular basis to build muscle as well as maintain their general fitness level. This often means regular jogs, lifting weights, cardio exercises, and other physical activities. This ensures they can maintain their fitness in a variety of ways, which is essential to ensure certain muscles are not overworked.
In addition, regular exercise is often the best way for an athlete to stay in shape if they engage in a team sport like hockey or soccer, both of which need other people to practice specific skills.
Practice Year Round
Speaking of practicing their chosen sport, great athletes always make the commitment to practice their sport year-round. But what if they weather is not cooperating? What happens if the soccer field is covered in snow or the swimming pool needs to close? What about muddy tennis courts?
Turning an outdoor sports field into an indoor facility is possible with an air dome. Domes create the perfect space to practice soccer throughout the winter on a field, safe from the snow. The rain cannot make the tennis courts muddy if the dome protects them.
Proper Recovery and Rest
Of course, even great athletes cannot exercise and practice all the time without the risk of injuring themselves. Though they may be able to do more than the average individual, even an athlete can overwork their body and put it at risk for pulled muscles, shin splints, sprained joints, or worse. Thus, great athletes should commit to proper recovery and rest.
What does this mean? Rest may shift depending on the person, but it means taking a break during the workout (including drinking lots of water), and taking a day off from exercise completely every so often. This is a significant help to preventing injuries.
Proper recovery also means that, in the event an injury does occur, the athlete takes the time necessary for the injury to heal completely before diving back in. After diving back in, of course, it means taking things slower and then ramping back up to prevent the injury from coming around again so soon.
Consult Health Professionals
Whether it’s for dietary needs, general health, a sports injury specialist, or anything else health or medical related, great athletes know the benefit of consulting health and medical professionals to help make sure they have the right resources so their bodies remain fit and healthy. This all leads to top performance when they play their sport.
What’s the Difference Between an Air-Inflated Structure and an Air-Supported Structure?
Here at The Farley Group, we create air-supported structures. But as with any unique type of structure, the terminology can be confusing. If you’re a stickler for language, you might be interested to know that there is actually a difference between an air-inflated structure and an air-supported structure.
Yes, technically they should mean the same thing, but the English language tends to not play by the rules. Just look at the word “colonel,” if you need an example of English’s oddities.
So, if they’re not the same thing, what are they?
Air-inflated structures (a.k.a., inflatable buildings) create space by inflating beams, arches, ceilings and walls, whereas it’s the entire structure that traps the air with an air-supported structure.
Still confused? Well as an example, think about an inflated bouncy play castle. That would technically be an air-inflated structure. The air is trapped within the membranes of the walls themselves and the space to be occupied by people is open to the outside atmosphere.
An air-supported structure traps the air in the usable space of the structure, which means that the interior has a slightly higher air pressure than outside.
Air-inflated structures, therefore, don’t need controlled entrance and exit points as air-supported structures do. The air should stay trapped between the membranes without the need for airlocks.
While the two types of air structures both have benefits, there are reasons why you would pick one over the other.
Air-supported structures are better suited for large structures, like those needed for indoor sports or to cover large areas. The Farley Group’s air-supported structures are created for things like soccer fields, large swimming pools, tennis facilities, and multisport facilities where large clear-span space is necessary.
Air-supported structures are also better able to withstand the forces of nature than inflatable buildings. A concrete grade beam is part of the foundation and is needed not just to help seal the air in, but to give added strength and support to anchor a dome in place. Also, the air pressure in an air-supported structure can be modulated to fit the needs of whatever the weather is doing. This adaptability makes it possible to better prepare and still be confident that the dome will withstand the test of time.
Air-inflated structures are better purposed for smaller, portable uses. They typically don’t have a foundation so they can be set up and taken down anywhere. Typically, where you might use a tent, you could use an air-inflated building instead.
While air inflated buildings share some of the same principles, they are quite different from air-supported structures. Each type of structure has its own purpose, as well, so it’s difficult to compare the two. Because the two are so different, though, it’s important to get the terminology right!