What are the Different Types of Sports Flooring?

Mary Elizabeth

Sports flooring is not one thing, but a variety of approaches to floor construction or floor covering using a variety of products for a variety of athletic purposes. Sports flooring is made from a variety of natural and synthetic materials. Special flooring meets the needs in athletes in such diverse sports as basketball, tennis, track, weight lifting, and futsal, an indoor version of the sport Americans call "soccer" and Europeans call "football." Portable and permanent sports flooring solutions are available, and may be used in schools, churches, park and recreation centers, military base training facilities, athletic clubs, arenas, stadiums, and other facilities dedicated to sports, whether full-time or part-time.

A tennis floor is engineered for ball speed, good foothold and shock absorption as well as accurate ball bounce.
A tennis floor is engineered for ball speed, good foothold and shock absorption as well as accurate ball bounce.

Racket sport-specific sports flooring is available for tennis, table tennis, and badminton. You might find, for example, that a tennis floor is engineered for medium ball speed, good foothold and shock absorption, and accurate ball bounce. Some professional sports associations have very particular floor requirements. The International Table Tennis Federation is very specific about the flooring required for tournament play: it must be the table-tennis specific flooring made by Gerflor, the makers of Taraflex®, and the color must be framboise (raspberry).

An ice rink has particular flooring requirements.
An ice rink has particular flooring requirements.

School gymnasiums and other multi-purpose sports facilities present unique sports flooring needs. These floors need to be extremely durable and economical to maintain, while providing a surface on which multiple actions—such as running, walking, and jumping—are all comfortable and safe. One way to accomplish all this in one floor is with a multi-layer product such as Taraflex®. Taraflex® starts with a Cellular Xtreme Process (CXP™) foam backing, topped by a D-Max™ surface complex with PVC layers combined over a fiberglass grid. The top layer is a surface called Protecsol®, made to provide “slide” or “grip” depending on a user’s action, as well as being designed to prevent friction burn. But despite all the new materials developed, maple sports flooring is still extremely popular, too.

Some sports have very specific and distinctive flooring needs. An indoor track requires a unique type of sports flooring in order to deal with athletes wearing spikes or not. Ice rink flooring, whether permanent or portable, has unique engineering requirements, and the ice rink perimeter has its own unique flooring requirements as well. Race horses need sports flooring, too. There are specialized rubber pavers and textured equine flooring that can be used in barns, paddock areas, walkways, foaling stalls, breeding areas, and arenas. This flooring is designed to reduce injury through slip resistance, make cleaning easy, and be similar to a natural ground cover.

Table tennis table, with competition level flooring.
Table tennis table, with competition level flooring.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


Drentel - When I was high school, our basketball team scrimmaged one of the nearby churches. My teammates and I were all excited about playing the church team because we had heard they had a carpeted basketball court. None of us had ever heard of such a thing, let alone played on one. Sure enough, when we got to their gym and walked in we were confronted by a carpeted floor on which to play our game.

Initially, it was distracting. All I could think of was I am playing basketball on carpet. Once the game began and we played for a while, we forget we were playing on carpet. Of course, when you took a tumble you were quickly reminded. I could tell you some stories about carpet burn.

I don't think the carpet ever caught on in a big way as a viable sports court flooring. That's the only carpeted floor I ever played on and I haven't seen another one to this day.


Animandel - I remember those hard-rubber floors. I think they were designed to be easier on the legs, specifically the knees. Remember that spongy feel? Plank flooring has definitely make a come back for basketball courts.

Has anyone out there ever played basketball on carpet flooring?


There are so many options in sports floors these days. I can remember when wood sports flooring was all there was for basketball gyms. Then when I went to college, all the courts in the P.E. Center had rubber sports flooring. It wasn't rubber like a rubber ball, but it was a form of rubber. And, boy, did it burn when you slid across it.

Those rubber floors were really popular at one time. However, I think the removable wood floors are back in vogue. At least, my old college has them now.

Post your comments
Forgot password?