Using a wind tunnel, Goff has researched the flight properties of the Telstar 18, drawing its drag curve to discover where the ball might dip and swerve in the air, similar to the knuckleball free kicks favored by Cristiano Ronaldo “Even if aerodynamically the Telstar 18 isn’t that different from the Brazuca, it’s still going to wobble a little bit differently because the panel shapes are different,” Goff says.
Everything becomes scaled down for smaller soccer players compared to the adult game. Kids play on small fields nowhere near the size of a full regulation field 100 or more yards long, with as few as three players compared to 11 for grownups. Even in a league, parents may serve as referees, games may last only 20 minutes and scores more than likely won't be kept. In keeping with this small world, kids' soccer balls are also smaller.
At the World Cup level, these tiny changes in a ball’s aerodynamics can legitimately impact a team’s performance, so the intense scrutiny of the World Cup ball is perhaps to be expected. “You could argue that it’s the most important piece of equipment in the most popular sport in the world,” says John Eric Goff, Professor of Physics at University of Lynchburg.
“Had I seen the drag curve for Jabulani prior to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa I would have been calling FIFA and Adidas saying please don’t use this ball,” Goff says. The fact that the Jabulani became unpredictable and beach-ball-like during these long passes really helped Spain win in 2010, Goff says. The Spanish team relied almost entirely on short precise passes, without long kicks that became unstable with the Jabulani ball. “That was the perfect example of a team that really fit the style of play for that ball,” Goff says.
“We found that the grooves and pimples on the Telstar 18 ball are very orderly and a little bit flat,” says Alam. The pimples that texture the surface of the ball are not as raised as on the Brazuca, and the seams are narrower and shallower than they have been in the past. All of the elements of the ball—the increased seam length, the more regular pimple pattern, orderly pimple and seam shape—add up to a more symmetrical, balanced ball, Alam says. “We expect this ball to have better flight stability.” And since all 11 stadiums in Russia are at the same altitude, Alam says the ball should play the same way across all matches.
This 12-oz. ball works for players between 8 and 12 years old and has a circumference of 26 inches, larger than a size 3 and smaller than the size 5. This age group tends to play on a field of about 30 to 50 yards, writes Deborah W. Crisfield in "The Everything Kids' Soccer Book," with a goal size of around 6 feet high and 18 feet long. Again, the scale for the U12s falls between that of the U8s and that of the older age brackets for the No. 4 ball and the game as a whole. Some leagues may limit the No. 4 ball to U10s instead of U12s, so check league rules before making a purchase.
Controlling the game is everything. From touch, shape, and movement, to flight of the ball, the construction of your soccer ball can impact how well you command the pitch. Competitive soccer players usually have different types of soccer balls for training, match day or just to kick around. See the options below for choosing the right adidas soccer ball for your favorite type of play.