What Happens When Soccer Balls Are Perfectly Round?

The ball used in 2010 World Cup rendered many players confused due to its unpredictable swerving. There were reports from certain players that they didn’t know where the ‘ball was headed after all’. The outfield players had other woes to deal with, as the lack of imperfections and total roundness of the ball made it difficult to control.

For thousands of years, human beings have invariably enjoyed kicking things around. The experience of kicking an object is even more fun when the thing is round or spherical in shape. That’s why it comes as no surprise why we invented the game of soccer (known as football in many countries).

At first glance, soccer balls appear to be perfectly spherical or round in shape. However, one has to look very close to ascertain the roundness of the ball. There are several reasons why soccer balls are not perfectly round in their shape.

Nevertheless, in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which was held in South Africa, the ball that was used was the ’roundest’ ball ever used in the history of FIFA World Cups. Needless to say, it made a definite difference, some of which were not desirable to many teams.


Recommended Video for you:

If you wish to buy/license this video, please write to us at admin@scienceabc.com.

The Case of Jabulani

Every four years, before the FIFA World Cup, the official ball is ‘launched’ on the market, i.e., the ball that will be used throughout the tournament is released to the world. Usually, these balls are given an official name as well. The one they used for the 2010 World Cup was named Jabulani, which means ‘to celebrate’ in isiZulu (one of South Africa’s 11 national languages). It was Adidas’s 11th edition of balls used in World Cups.

Now, let’s take a look at the features of the ball.

jabulani_ball diagram

Jabulani

Jabulani weighs 439 grams and has a circumference of 69 centimeters (27.1 inches). This ball boasts a newly designed “Grip ‘n Groove” surface, which would offer a better grip on the ball and excellent stability while in flight due to its highly favorable aerodynamic properties. The lack of panels on the ball and the internal stitching made it the roundest ball ever used in FIFA World Cups. Adidas claimed that Jabulani was the most accurate and stable ball that it had ever made to that point.

Experiences of Players with Jabulani

Since soccer is the most watched sport in the world, it is only fair that the ball used in the most important tournament of the game gets a lot of attention, including scientific analysis. For Jabulani, the world’s views were mixed. Some commended the makers of the ball for its exceptional stability in flight, while others were not so happy, as the ball was ‘too round.’

The general public had plenty to say about the ball, but the players of the game also had some difficulty in dealing with the new kind of ball. It was seen that the perfect roundness of the ball rendered many players confused due to its unpredictable swerving. There were reports from certain players that they didn’t know where the ‘ball was headed after all.’ The outfield players had other woes to deal with, as the lack of any imperfections and the total roundness of the ball made it difficult to control and it was a challenge to put a spin on the ball.

p45es

Goalies had other experiences that were far from ideal. They argued that the ball appeared to slow down in midair or balloon up suddenly, making it difficult to ascertain the trajectory of the ball.

While some may say that these were random excuses of under-performing of players, the fact that it was ‘the roundest ball’ ever is something that clearly gives some credibility to the numerous complaints and comments.

Even after facing a great deal of criticism for its new design of Jabulani, there seemed to be some confusion about the ball that would be ideal for World Cups. However, it will come as no surprise if they didn’t use perfectly round balls in subsequent World Cups. Remember, feedback is a good thing!

Suggested Reading

Was this article helpful?
YesNo
Help us make this article better
Scientific discovery can be unexpected and full of chance surprises. Take your own here and learn something new and perhaps surprising!

Follow ScienceABC on Social Media:

About the Author

Ashish is a Science graduate (Bachelor of Science) from Punjabi University (India). He spearheads the content and editorial wing of ScienceABC and manages its official Youtube channel. He’s a Harry Potter fan and tries, in vain, to use spells and charms (Accio! [insert object name]) in real life to get things done. He totally gets why JRR Tolkien would create, from scratch, a language spoken by elves, and tries to bring the same passion in everything he does. A big admirer of Richard Feynman and Nikola Tesla, he obsesses over how thoroughly science dictates every aspect of life… in this universe, at least.

.
Science ABC YouTube Videos

  1. Neutron Stars Explained in Simple Words for LaymenNeutron Stars Explained in Simple Words for Laymen
  2. How Robert J. Oppenheimer became the ‘Father of the Atomic Bomb’How Robert J. Oppenheimer became the ‘Father of the Atomic Bomb’
  3. Higgs Boson (The God Particle) and Higgs Field Explained in Simple WordsHiggs Boson (The God Particle) and Higgs Field Explained in Simple Words
  4. Slowing or Reversing Aging: Can We Live for 180 years?Slowing or Reversing Aging: Can We Live for 180 years?
  5. Detectives Use this Simple Technique to Find Your Fingerprints (Even AFTER You Have Wiped Them Off)!Detectives Use this Simple Technique to Find Your Fingerprints (Even AFTER You Have Wiped Them Off)!
  6. Why is a Circle 360 Degrees, Why Not a Simpler Number, like 100?Why is a Circle 360 Degrees, Why Not a Simpler Number, like 100?
  7. Quantum Mechanics Explained in Ridiculously Simple WordsQuantum Mechanics Explained in Ridiculously Simple Words
  8. Do Fish Get Thirsty and Do They Need to Drink Water?Do Fish Get Thirsty and Do They Need to Drink Water?