As always with Nike balls, the Merlin has an excellent feel, particularly when passing. The ball is also great for shooting due to Nike’s 4-panel construction, 360-degree sweet spot technology and the soft polyurethane outer material. It won’t deviate too much in the air due to the thermally-bonded pentagonal panel layout, so it’s perfect for training as well as games.
The ultimate determination is how a soccer ball feels and performs for you on contact. A good soccer ball will not only be tough enough to hold up to your fast and furious play, it will feature a soft casing for comfortable heading, and durable stitching (if stitched). It should handle well, and have good response. Most good soccer game balls feature a poly-urethane (PU) casing. Most leagues prefer 32-panel designs for its performance value. Also check for a warranty. Your new soccer ball should come with a manufacturer's warranty against defects and damage caused by normal play.
Built for durability, recreation balls are made of soft synthetic materials for play on nearly any field. Typically, these balls are slightly heavier for beginner’s slower play, yet, competitors of all skill levels use these balls for practice and recreation on hard turf fields due to their resilience. Machine-stitching is the most stand-out visual difference between match balls and training balls and it offers a consistent touch for any player.
Over time, many soccer balls tend to go out-of-round, especially if they are well-used. The Glider is designed to maintain its shape without losing air thanks to the firmness and consistency of the butyl bladder. Under regular use, we found that the air pressure was consistent enough that we didn’t need to add more air to the ball. If you play in organized soccer, then having consistency from the practice ball to the game ball is very important for skill development. The machine-stitched panels offer that experience for most players, even though the ball has the standard panel design.
Although the length of kick may end up being a little shorter, the changes make the Telstar 18 more balanced, says Alam. On other balls, Alam and his team have found that there is a difference in how the ball flies based on where it’s kicked in relation to the seams. His tests have found that the Telstar 18 ball doesn’t have as much variation. The total length of seam of the Telstar 18 is 14.1 feet, 3.28 feet more than on the Brazuca. With the longer seam, and more symmetric panels, no matter how the ball is turned there is the same amount of seam exposed. “The other two balls were not like that, they were significantly different,” he says.
It is a common misconception but, believe it or not, soccer was not actually invented in England. Although the sport, known across the pond as football, was revolutionized by the country in the mid-19th century, records actually trace its origin back over 2,000 years to ancient China. Called “association football” when it was played by the British 200 years ago, the terms “football” and “soccer” were both eventually derived from abbreviations of the longer name over time.