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How much do we Rely on Rubber in Sport?

Rubber is one of the safest, longest-lasting and best-performing floor surfaces for sports facilities. As well as having rubber floor matting in sports halls, we also rely on rubber for many modern sporting activities to ensure the game functions properly.

Sports such as gymnastics, karate, judo and weight training couldn't take place safely without this durable and comfortable floor surface, while basketballs, volleyballs, badminton shuttlecocks and tennis balls all rely on rubber in the manufacturing process.

Rubber sports products

© Andrey Popov / Adobe Stock


Rubber sports flooring

Rubber flooring offers shock absorption and natural resilience, to help prevent sports injuries. It's one of the most resilient materials in existence and feels comfortable and soft underfoot. When the rubber flooring is very thick, it will feel softer to the touch and may have extra cushioning, such as cork, fabric or foam rubber backing.

When it comes to sports such as martial arts and gymnastics, where the impact level on the floor is high, rubber flooring is a must. It will help to combat fatigue and injuries to the feet and ankles. It is created to absorb even the heaviest impact, while reducing leg exertion and muscle stress.


Before rubber matting

Before the invention of rubber floor mats, woollen yarn was often used to make mats. In the early 19th century, a new type of floor covering used waste products from weaving looms. Leftover lengths of yarn, known as thrums, were attached to a woven base of sturdy material, such as straw.

This was known as rug hooking and became a popular way of making floor mats in England. By the start of the 20th century, new materials were being used to make floor mats. These included canvas, straw, a type of hessian called burlap and jute.

When the Industrial Revolution was at its height, floor coverings were produced from rubber. Vulcanisation further refined how rubber mats were made.


Sporting revolution

Rubber floor coverings revolutionised not only competitive sports, but also non-competitive sports, such as aerobics, which the public enjoy to keep fit and healthy. The benefits of rubber flooring make it suitable for many different types of sports.

When it comes to weight training, a weight-lifting platform must be stable and comfortable to provide effective support. Rubber flooring is sturdy and dense enough to hold the extra weight and resilient enough to provide cushioning and bounce-back in the event of dropped weights.

Rubber mats resist traction and lacerations, so they are ideal for fitness centres. They can withstand the foot-traffic and the weight of the gym equipment. Resilient, they can continually provide high performance, helping to protect against accidents and injuries.


Shock absorption

Rubber flooring is also used for jogging tracks, as it is durable enough not to be torn or punctured by running spikes. Ideal for aerobic exercises which involve powerful, fast movements that include a hard impact on landing, it enables greater shock-absorption and cushioning, while providing good grip for multiple changes in direction.

Rubber is the number one choice for sports centres. It is also a popular choice for ice rinks in the bench areas, where people must be able to walk around safely while wearing skates. As a general floor covering at multi-purpose sports facilities, it is the standard material for athletics facilities such as basketball courts, indoor soccer pitches, volleyball courts and many other sports.

It is used for indoor track events, gymnasiums, yoga and Pilates studios, tennis courts, children's playgrounds and general leisure areas.


Sporting equipment

Most basketballs have an inflatable rubber bladder, which is wrapped in layers of fibre and covered with a surface made of leather or rubber. As with almost all inflatable balls, there's a small opening that allows the pressure to be altered. Volleyballs usually consist of 18 rectangular panels of leather or synthetic leather, wrapped around a rubber bladder. Volleyball training balls are also made from rubber.

Badminton shuttlecocks rely on rubber for their unique motion. Consisting of several feathers, or a synthetic alternative, fixed on to a rounded rubber base, the unique shape makes a shuttlecock aerodynamically stable. Regardless of how it's struck, it will turn around and fly rubber-end first, remaining in this orientation until it's struck again.

Tennis balls are filled with air, with a surface made from a felt-covered rubber compound. Before rubber was invented, tennis balls were made from leather, stuffed with wool. Earlier versions were made from animal fur, stuffed with sand, chalk, sawdust, or earth. The invention of rubber revolutionised the sport of tennis, with the first vulcanised air-filled rubber balls being invented in Germany.

I think it’s fair to say that without the invention of rubber, many of today's sports and leisure activities wouldn't be possible!

Coruba's range of high quality studio and gym rubber matting promote safety in many sporting environments. Give us a call on 01702 560194 for more details.

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