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The World Cup 2006 - Watch out for the New Soccer Ball

June 9th, 2006

The World Cup 2006 - Watch out for the New Soccer Ball

World Cup Official ball

The World Cup 2006 is about to begin today, but watch out for the new soccer ball being used for the first time for the World Cup.  The new ball has only 14 panels with fewer seams compared to the traditional soccer ball that has either 26 or 32 panels in a hexagon pattern.

Scientists say that this change is going to “bamboozle goalkeepers” during the game this year.  The reason they believe that the new soccer ball will cause problems is that its design resembles the aerodynamics of a baseball.  The new soccer ball when hit with a slow spin will make it more likely to give an unpredictable trajectory when kicked in the air. 


"With a very low spin rate, which occasionally happens in soccer, the panel pattern can have a big influence on the trajectory of the ball and make it more unpredictable for a goalkeeper," said Dr Ken Bray, a sports scientist at the University of Bath and who is also the author of the new popular science book called “How to score – science and the beautiful game.”

Bray continued to explain why it will be difficult for the soccer players this year.  "In baseball, pitchers often throw a 'curve ball' which is similar to a swerving free kick and the rotating seam disrupts the air flow around the ball in much the same way as a soccer ball does.  Occasionally though, pitchers will throw a 'knuckleball' which bobs about randomly in flight and is very disconcerting for batters. It happens because pitchers throw the ball with very little spin and as the ball rotates lazily in the air, the seam disrupts the air flow around the ball at certain points on the surface, causing an unpredictable deflection. With the world's best players in Germany this summer, there are bound to be plenty of spectacular scoring free kicks. But watch the slow motion replays to spot the rare occasions where the ball produces little or no rotation and where goalkeepers will frantically attempt to keep up with the ball's chaotic flight path."


The new soccer ball has already been criticized by England goal keeper Paul Robinson and also goalkeeper Jens Lehmann for it being light-weight and unpredictable.  The new soccer ball has been used in World Cup practice sessions.  It sounds like it could be an interesting game this year.  World Cup 2006 will be broadcast on ESPN.

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Nicole Wilson
Best Syndication

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