Synthetic turf has evolved considerably since it was first introduced in 1965 under the trade name Astroturf. Astroturf never really became popular with players (except perhaps in the sport of field hockey), who found the surface exceptionally hard (compared to natural turf), altering ball bounce characteristics in unfavorable ways, and also leading to more serious sports injuries. Successive innovations have thus been aimed at making synthetic turf resemble as much as possible the softness and ball handling characteristics of natural turf. The latest generation of synthetic grass uses a combination of synthetic fiber woven into a mat with sand/rubber infill to simulate the look and feel of natural turf, which is markedly superior to the earliest generation products.
Several organizations have approved the use of synthetic turf in their respective sporting activities. These include the Federation International Football Association (FIFA), the international governing body for soccer; Federation of International Hockey (FIH) for field hockey; and the International Rugby Association. These organizations have published detailed specifications (downloadable from their websites) for what characteristics an synthetic pitch should possess, as well as detailed testing protocols. In addition, the Synthetic Turf Council (www.syntheticturfcouncil.org), a trade association of synthetic turf manufacturers, also has a set of testing guidelines for synthetic turf products that could be used for applications outside the purview of specific sports governing bodies.