This year, the ball shouldn’t have that kind of impact on which team wins the World Cup. In wind tunnel tests, Goff found that Telstar 18 has a very similar aerodynamic profile to the 2014 Brazuca ball, which flew without the wobbles of the Jabulani. The Jabulani was the first ball to have six seams and despite having a roughened surface, it was too smooth, says Goff. When the Brazuca was released, it had 68 percent more seams than the Jabulani to help change the airflow around the ball. The Telstar 18 is even more improved. Instead of transitioning to laminar flow in the middle of free kicks, Goff found that the Telstar 18 goes through its drag crisis at a lower speed of 38 miles an hour.
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Match balls are constructed specifically for competition and the sport's high-level training. These balls feature higher quality materials and must conform to regulation standards of your league. Training and recreational soccer balls are designed to handle extended use on a variety of playing surfaces, often featuring a PVA casing for enhanced durability.
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In 2010, the infamous Jabulani balls for the World Cup in South Africa transitioned from turbulent to laminar flow between 50 and 45 miles per hour, right at the speed for corner and free kicks. The transition between these different types of flow causes even more drag on the ball, which caused the Jabulani to wobble in the air and drop in ways that players weren’t expecting.