How a Field Striping Machine Can Tackle Your 3 Biggest Field Prep Struggles for Spring Sports

Spring is here, so your community is itching to get outside while you scramble to prep your fields, schedule your team, hire seasonal help, and tune up your line painter

It doesn’t help that your fields have been under snow, ice, and rain all winter, forcing you and your staff to create new fields from nothing. 

Spring sports are often the best part about working in parks and rec, but they’re also one of the most challenging aspects of running a parks and rec facility. And they signal the start of a grueling stretch that won’t ease up until the fall holidays. 

Here are the three biggest struggles most parks and rec departments face when prepping their fields for spring sports and how a field striping machine could help you avoid them.

field striping machine

1. Field Volume

Parks crews are charged with caring for fields of all sizes and purposes, from a couple of multi-purpose sports fields to more than 100. And no matter the size, coming out of winter months, each field must be painted within a very tight window. 

For many departments, even in relatively small municipalities, this means painting dozens of fields across multiple parks and sports complexes. 

Those fields must be prepped ahead of time. You and your team have to organize which fields will be painted to make the best use of your land while meeting participation needs, and you’ll need to plan for who will paint each field and when.

Each sport will require multiple layouts based on age group and league. That means you must prep your team to handle multiple field markings for lacrosse, flag football, soccer, baseball, and softball, to name a few. 

Put line painting on automatic.

Stop worrying about overworked staff and overtime checks. With a robotic field striping machine, you can paint regulation fields in minutes with centimeter-specific precision. Laying the fields out on your table even makes planning faster and ends the need for surveying and staking fields.

field striping machine

2. Staff Allocation

Parks and rec departments across the country are well-acquainted with staff shortages. COVID-19 made things more challenging with shrinking budgets and hiring pools

Not only is it difficult to find seasonal staff in the spring, but most departments need help finding the knowledgeable and experienced full-time staff they need. 

Kevin Roth, vice president of research, evaluation, and technology at the National Recreation and Park Association, said, “Park and recreation leaders find themselves competing with better-funded employers that can offer higher wages and benefits. Agencies that faced sharp budget cuts during the pandemic and resulting recession are simply unable to keep up with rising labor costs. As a result, parks and recreation must entice workers with nonfinancial benefits that come with their jobs, including the ability to serve their community.”

It typically takes two or three hours for two or three people to paint a full-sized soccer field. And it’s hard enough to find two or three people who know how to paint a soccer field and nearly impossible to find the dozens it takes to cover multiple complexes in a matter of weeks. 

Crews have to work from sun up to sun down with few breaks just to paint three fields per day. That doesn’t make the recruitment process any easier. 

line painter

Get back to what you’re best at.

Your staff likes maintaining parks and playing fields. That’s why most people get into the parks and rec business. But that doesn’t mean they like spending half their year painting and repainting the same fields. A robotic field striping machine can free them up for everything else.

3. Field Maintenance

You have all your fields painted. Now what? 

You mow them, play on them, and paint them again. 

And again. And again. 

If they’re used regularly, you have to paint weekly. Hot, cold, and wet weather means more maintenance and tighter painting windows. 

Manual field painting, even with the best field striping machine, is such a time-intensive process that, by the time your team paints all of the fields, they’ll have to start right back at the beginning and paint them again. 

And because it takes so much longer to apply the initial striping, crews often find themselves repainting fields even in the best weather and during breaks in play so they won’t be forced to start from scratch when lines fade. 

Stop redoing your work.

With a robotic field striping machine, you don’t have to preserve field lines year-round, even in the weeks or months a particular field isn’t in use. Initial setup is fast and easy, and repainting crisp new lines is done in a matter of minutes.

field striping machine

The ramifications of painting fields manually

Prepping fields for the spring sports season is often an all-hands-on-deck undertaking, from the interns to the director. That means your team isn’t able to do their other essential tasks, like mowing, maintaining sports equipment and facilities, recruiting coaches, and scheduling. 

Painting is such a specialized skill set that replacing retiring staff puts a bottleneck in your entire preparation process. 

When these bottlenecks occur, the quality of your fields suffers, leaving a less-than-stellar impression to first-time and visiting parents and players who are paying customers. The simple fact is that nicer facilities drive business, and declining facilities lead to declining programs.

With team sports participation declining by 5% in the past year, the last thing parks and rec departments need is a poor first impression.

Above all, the lines are in place to help regulate the safety of each game played on them. Referee certification organizations even train their members to check field markings upon arrival every time. Providing a non-regulation playing surface can result in your teams suffering penalties and fines, or worse, injuries. 

Change the game with an automatic field striping machine

With an automated field striping machine, you can free up your crews to maintain the rest of your sports complexes while your robots create precise field markings.

TinyMobileRobots spray picture-perfect lines the first time, achieving a paint savings of 50%-60% for most users. And they can paint fields from scratch, which means your crew doesn’t have to worry about surveying and staking your fields before you get started. 

Since initial field setup is so easy, you don’t have to worry about repainting fields that aren’t in use. 

Our robots can paint a football field in under three hours and an 11 v 11 soccer field in under 30 minutes. 

If you need to resize or move a field, you can do it from your tablet. Even better, creating a new field based on an old field is a matter of copy and paste.  

The best part is that your staff can go from rushing through backbreaking work in the month leading up to Spring to taking pride in maintaining the entire sports complex while the robots handle the lines. 

After all, which department would you rather work for, the one with the perfect lines or the one with the overworked, over-stressed, and under-staffed crew?

How would a robotic solution look on your fields? Find out. 

Schedule a demo with TinyMobileRobots, and we’ll paint one of your fields with our robot. Seriously.

It’s free, totally non-binding, and honestly kind of fun. 

TinyMobileRobots don’t stop with spring sports or even grass fields. These robots can paint rugby pitches, track and field lines, tennis courts, and more, making them indispensable tools in keeping your playing surface safe and clearly marked year-round. 

Fill out our demo request, and you can put us to the test.