The Science Of The Soccer Ball

teamgeistBefore the 2006 World Cup in Germany, the boffins at Adidas designed the ‘world’s roundest ball’ for the world’s second biggest sporting event. It was the result of years of research, some complicated science and the hard work of a robotic kicking machine.

Adidas has been responsible for making the balls for the soccer (or football for poms) World Cup since 1970, and it’s been a constantly changing centrepiece of the game. The Telstar ball—which features the instantly recognisable pattern of 20 hexagonal and 12 pentagonal sections—was launched by Adidas back in 1970 in Mexico. In 1986, the ball was changed to use plastic instead of leather, and in 2002 for the Korean World Cup, Adidas added a ‘syntactic foam layer’ which improved accuracy.

But the 2006 ball was another step forward in the evolution of ball science altogether.

Instead of using the familiar 32 sections, Adidas made the 2006 ball—dubbed +Teamgeist—from 14 rounded panels. And instead of stitching them together, the panels on the +Teamgeist were thermally bonded (or glued) together, creating a seamless ball that’s almost entirely waterproof.

This change in design from 32 sections to 14 meant that the ball was a lot more accurate, no matter where you actually kicked the ball. At least according to Adidas, who had a robotic kicking machine test out the balls before the world cup by kicking it repeatedly against a wall.

The ball itself had a very mixed reaction during the tournament. Some players loved it, while others blamed it for their losses. Either way, it performed differently to the traditional ball thanks to its newer design.

With Adidas bringing out a new ball every World Cup, and the next tournament being held in South Africa next year, it will be fascinating to see what new and exciting developments Adidas introduces to the ball. Who would’ve though that something as simple as a football would be such a high tech marvel?

Playing With Balls is Gizmodo AU’s week-long look at the technology behind the sports we love, from the jerseys to the balls and everything in between. Go the Blues!


    The World Cup being the 2nd biggest sporting event? Lies I tell you.

      2nd biggest ?? ... damn you Unicycle Hockey World Cup

      Only the Olympics are bigger.

      the world cup is actually the largest sporting event in the world..

      then what is it?

      Sounds about right to me. But what's first? The Olympics, I'd assume.

      Also, on the soccer/football note. I believe it was the "poms" that first coined the word "soccer" as an abbreviation of Football A-SOCCiation. Trust a whingin' pom to make up a word then scorn you for using it :P

      I wonder how many of them even know what "pom" is? They seem happy to call themselves by it. Maybe we shouldn't say :D

      Next years ball should have a detanator in it. At least then they won't have to pretend to be hurt. Then I'd watch it... maybe.

    haha, that was my thought too!

    I reckon if you looked at the number of viewers across the globe, the World Cup would be the number 1 sporting event!

      POM= Prisoner Of Mother empire, so us.

    I think it was first. It's the World Game. But speaking of balls (ba ha ha) have a look at the Nike T90 Ascente. Supposedly the most advanced ball in the world, and being used by the top 3 Football (Soccer) Leagues. That's Tech.

    P.O.M : Ozzies told me "Prisoner Of her Majesty", but they still have the queen on their coins as well

    More countries compete in the world cup more people watch the world cup... how is it not the biggest?

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