Indoor sports surfaces
Maple was the first choice material (Bookwalter, 1947) for the performance surfaces of the early dance studios and sports halls, and is still a favourite. Basketball floors, for example, are highly engineered surfaces made of three-quarter inch (19mm) thick tongue-and-groove northern hard maple laid on plywood and supported by sleepers. (Northern hard maple is produced from trees grown north of the 35th parallel, where shorter growing seasons and longer winters produce maple with a closer, more uniform grain.)
The earlier sprung floors were cushioned mechanically (some still are, principally for acrobatic and cheerleading applications). Most modern sprung floors are, however, supported by foam backing, rubber mounts or neoprene pads. Features include: an optimum amount of ‘spring’ to return energy when lifting feet; absorption of the energy of falls; appropriate traction; elimination of sideways movement; area elasticity (rather than point elasticity); appropriate colour (to enhance participation in dance or sport, and viewing of these activities); imperviousness to liquid spillages and other incidents which present dangers to dancers or sports participants. The requirements are complicated by the fact that, nowadays, relatively few sprung floors are activityspecific. Most have to cater for multi-purpose usage and have to be able to accommodate temporary seating and individual heavy objects (such as a piano or loaded mats trolley).