When we are designing indoor sports facilities, we’re not just thinking about the dark nights and wet weather, which can spoil our enjoyment of sport, particularly in the winter months.  Strong winds can be just as disruptive.  We only have to look back a few months to be reminded of the successive storms that wreaked havoc on the sporting calendar as it was deemed unsafe to play outdoors.  Most recently it’s been the sun and heat.  The advice has been to stay in the shade but not every tennis or basketball court is shaded naturally.  The advice has also been to not exercise for fear of overheating and avoid any lengthy periods of time in direct sunlight.  So, even on bright summer days, the opportunity to play sport outside can be scuppered.  

Not so if there are indoor facilities available which can offer shelter from the rain and wind as well as shade from the sun at any time throughout the year.

We understand the benefits of being outside with plenty of fresh air and vitamin D but there are also huge benefits to our health when we are able to be active consistently no matter what the conditions outside.  From a club’s point of view, indoor facilities can boost membership, offer a more varied programme of sport and enable them to attract a team of quality coaches who can be guaranteed a job all year round.

We’ve read the warnings from SAPCA this week about the risk of asphalt playing surfaces softening in hot weather, making them unplayable.  This is particularly the case for courts in the first season after construction or resurfacing.

SAPCA explain, “If the surface shows signs of softening, play should be stopped immediately, as serious damage can result if play is continued….The general rule is that if the surface can be depressed by pushing your thumb into it, then play should stop.”

No doubt this is disappointing for clubs who will lose income at probably the busiest time of year for tennis, when the buzz of Wimbledon and the inspiration it generated is still fresh.  Players would start looking for alternative courts and may never go back to that club.  The majority of outdoor sports playing surfaces and running tracks are made using asphalt so we wonder how many have been affected by the recent heatwave.  

With a fabric-covered structure, you are not only guaranteed shade for the whole area but also a pleasant temperature and confortable environment in which to play.  This option doesn’t have to sacrifice the great outdoors either as retractable curtains are commonplace so you can get a good flow of natural ventilation.  The roofs are transparent so natural daylight floods the playing area and for the ultimate indoor/outdoor experience, telescopic roofs can be opened up to the full exposure of outside if you prefer the best of both worlds.

Scorching temperatures are expected to return and not just in the coming weeks.  Every year we are experiencing extreme weather in all guises and so there has never been a better time to invest in indoor sports facilities to future-proof your club and ensure that your members keep coming back and carry on being active.