The quick answer to the question of where wall pads are needed is everywhere in a gym or recreation area. I am sure at this point everyone is thinking that is a very self-serving answer from a wall pad manufacturer, but I think if you read on, you will see why my answer is spot-on.
Despite many conversations and initiatives over the last decade about the need for stronger rule requirements, governing bodies like the NFHS, AAU and NCAA fail to make any firm requirements for the need for wall pads. However all indicate that due to the extreme physical nature of basketball, volleyball and other sports, a fair amount of clearance is required around courts. For Basketball, most sanctioning bodies use wording similar to that found in latest NFHS rule book that reads “There shall be at least 3 feet (and preferably 10 feet) of unobstructed space outside boundaries” which is intended to allow athletes to slow down before hitting obstructions.
Volleyball rules require greater buffer zones, but since the volleyball court normally sits inside the basketball court, basketball competition usually presents the greatest potential for contact with obstructions.
With the speed, size and athleticism of today’s competitors, 3 feet is not enough space for an athlete to stop, slow down or brace for an impact with a rigid surface. At a minimum, all hard surfaces that are within 10’ of the playing surface as well as any outside corners should be padded. And make sure you don’t forget the practice or cross courts because injuries can and do happen in preparation, just like in competition. Wall pads should be mounted on these surfaces in accordance with ASTM standard F-2440-11 which indicates a pad should be mounted no more than 4” above the playing surface.
There are several cases of participants being severely injured or even losing their lives during games, practices or other activities. Many of these incidents have resulted in lengthy litigation and/or significant settlements that impacted all involved in the use and design of the recreation space. Owners, contractors, architects and specifiers need to do the right things to protect athletes and, as a byproduct, provide themselves some protection and insulation from claims by including wall padding and sufficient buffer zones around game and practice courts.
There are lots of different styles of wall pads from many different manufacturers. Look for a future post on choosing wall pads for your project or if you have need for a current project, contact Draper or your local Draper Gymnasium Equipment Dealer for assistance.