With the 2012 London Olympics around the corner, the world is buzzing with stories about our favorite teams and athletes. Their stats, diets, and athletic training regimens are analyzed as we observe in awe at how any human being can become so well attuned to a physical endeavor. While credit certainly goes wholly to the athlete for their commitment as well as physical and mental strength, there is much to say about the facilities in which these Olympic-level athletes train and compete.
If you have ever competed athletically you’ve probably noticed that good communication and focus are important factors in training and in competition, and changes in noise level and speech intelligibility can greatly influence these factors.
Imagine trying to carry out a training exercise when you can’t understand what your coach is yelling at you from across the gym, or playing a high stakes game of football when you can’t make out your quarterback’s signals.
Or what if the quiet, acoustically treated gymnasium you’ve been rigorously training in for months is replaced by a non-treated one in competition? Yells from the crowd, the sound of hundreds of pairs of feet stomping up and down bleachers and inclement weather on the metal roof all collect and reverberate off hard surfaces. All this noise can produce anxiety or confusion in an athlete and make it difficult for them to focus and perform their best.
Almost all facilities equipped for large capacity athletic events use a sound system to amplify announcements. While this helps with hearing the message, it does nothing to make it more intelligible. The amplified instruction will reverberate like all other noise being made in the room. Some professional teams even go so far as to use large sound systems and direct highly amplified noise at the team during training to prepare them for noisier conditions at away games.
Preparing for the worst is a good strategy, but with proper acoustical treatment, athletic facilities could stop the noise problem at its source. Instead of over-amplifying noise that needs to be heard, background noise could be cut in a few different ways:
- Acoustical Wall Panels: These are one of the most common acoustical treatments. They are attached to large bare areas of wall to eliminate sound reverberating off the hard, parallel surfaces.
- Acoustical Baffles: Acoustic baffles are like panels, but they are suspended vertically from the ceiling. These are a great solution for facilities who have little wall space or have a ceiling that causes reverberation. They also have more surface area exposed than wall panels, allowing for greater sound absorption from multiple angles.
- Acoustical Banners: Banners are great for very large spaces and harsh acoustical environments like Olympic sized swimming pools and large auditoriums.
- Damping Compound: Damping compound like Green Glue can be applied to the underside of metal bleachers or ceilings to reduce vibration and noise from footfall or weather.
So, there are many options available for acoustical treatment. Gymnasiums, arenas, and other facilities where training and athletic events are held can use these acoustical products to keep the overall noise level down, reducing reverberation and thereby making it easier to hear and understand messages. Athletes will also be able to focus more easily in the acoustically treated environment.
Do you have any other noise issues in your athletic facility that haven’t been addressed here? Let us know in the comments section or browse our case studies and full list of acoustical products!
You now know what makes an athletic facility Olympic level and that is noise control. Athletes at the Olympics are able to focus, and teams can communicate better when the overall noise level from crowds and other factors are kept low. Here is a list of courts, gymnasiums, multipurpose rooms and pools that we have acoustically treated with acoustic wall panels, baffles, and banners. Feel free to watch the videos and browse case studies to learn for yourself why an acoustically treated athletic facility is superior to a non-treated one.
Like most school gymnasiums, Moody Middle School in Richmond, Va. had a noise (reverberation) problem. When the gymnasium was full of students the public-address system was inaudible and it was next to impossible to distinguish one conversation from another. read more
The gymnasium had been designed with a perforated metal ceiling to help reduce the reverberation time throughout the larger areas of the community center. But because of the hard-surfaced side and end walls, there was still a problem of excessive reverberation and flutter echo. read more
The 1,450 square foot room was all hard, bare surfaces, as is common with gymnasiums. “It is a pretty large room,” said KJ Kim, KCPC associate, “and with all hard surfaces we were having trouble with reverb”. read more