Nike have unveiled their new football which will be used in the Premier League next season, but it may take some getting used to.
The new ‘Flight’ will be used for the 2020-21 campaign and features ridges not too dissimilar to a golf ball on its surface as part of a radical new design.
According to Nike, the concept is to stop the unpredictable motion of the ball once it has been kicked, which is potentially bad news for free-kick takers whose technique is based around the wobble of the ball in mid-air to confuse goalkeepers.
Nike’s new ball is not focused on stopping free-kick takers though. It could in fact help dead ball specialists who opt for precision and accuracy.
They claim the Flight is more consistent when kicked thus reducing the chances of long balls going to waste, set-pieces going astray or even shots from missing the target.
If a ball is completely smooth, it is gripped by the air, creating a significant wake and causing frequent changes in direction.
This was a severe complaint from as recent as the 2010 World Cup and the infamous Jabulani match ball, that was boasted as the ’roundest ever’ but was soon criticised for its unpredictable motion.
Following eight years of experiments, which started two years after the World Cup in South Africa, Nike conclude that using their new AerowSculpt technology the Flight has 30 per cent more accuracy than their predecessor the Merlin, which is currently in use in the Premier League this term.
‘Everything done at the Lab is rooted in science,’ says Kieran Ronan, Nike Senior Director for Global Equipment.
‘Here, we are able to detect small differences in performance that may not be perceivable to most athletes, but when those small differences are iterated upon 68 times, the result is a noticeable leap in performance.
‘The construction started with a square-shaped Aerotrack groove. Over the course of the 68 iterations, we modified the shape of the groove, added sculpted chevrons and explored multiple features throughout to deliver one geometric pattern that helps promote a more stable flight.’