When the 2014 FIFA World Cup gets started on June 12 in Brazil, the world's greatest soccer players will be booting around one of the most advanced balls ever created for the sport — and the science proves it.
Called Brazuca, it was developed by Adidas. Here's what makes it unique:
- It has six polyurethane panels that are bonded to keep the ball the same weight and roundness in even the thickest of rain (it's the first time a ball has had so few panels)
- The never-before-seen panel shape revolutionizes the game by producing faster flight speed and maintaining true roundness
- The bladder of the Brazuca ball is made of latex and provides the desired rebound
- The ball is textured and feels more like the Adidas' Finale 13, the official UEFA Champions League ball, than the Adidas Jabulani used in South Africa four years ago
- The adidas Brazuca ball, in a bold white/night blue/multicolor colorway befitting Brazil, is the most colorful ever for a FIFA World Cup
Typically, soccer balls are made from 32 pentagonal and hexagonal panels. Recently, however, newer balls have featured 14 and 8 panel designs. But with this six-panel design, the ball is expected to exhibit optimal aerodynamic continuity and flight speed.
To prove it, Japanese researcher Sungchan Hong used wind tunnel tests and a kick-robot to examine the relationship between the panel shape and orientation of modern footballs and their aerodynamic and flight characteristics. The results now appear in Nature: Scientific Reports. Tim Newcomb from Popular Mechanics summarizes it nicely:
This all sounds great — but wind tunnels and kick-robots are one thing, actual game-play is another. I'm fully expecting the players to complain about it like they usually do.
<Effect of panel shape of soccer ball on its flight characteristics >, published in June, 2014 on <Nature Scientific Report>