The game was played on natural turf (grass) but nowadays it is predominantly played on an artificial turf. The transition onto artificial pitches came during the 1970s and was made mandatory for major competitions in 1976. however at this time few players had seen or played on synthetic pitches.
Although it is still permissible to play on natural turf all national competitions and international matches must be played on an artificial surface. Elite-level competitions, such as the Olympic Games and World Cup, require a water-based playing surface. However, due to water conservation efforts, this is not seen as a long-term sustainable option and alternative elite surfaces that do not require water are being researched.
• Unfilled or water-based - artificial fibres that are densely packed for stabilisation, requires irrigation or watering to avoid pitch wear
• Dressed or sand-dressed - artificial fibres can be less densely packed and sand supports the fibres for part of the pile depth
• Filled or sand-filled - artificial fibres can be longer and less densely packed and sand supports the fibres for 100% of the pile depth