This was one of the few soccer balls that came our way that didn’t come inflated out of the box. How well the ball is inflated will depend on the long-term viability of the butyl bladder in this ball. When properly inflated with the correct needle, the air can be held for weeks, or even months, at a time. Compared to latex bladders, which need to be inflated about once per week on average, this Nike soccer ball offers a minimal maintenance experience. As a practice and play ball, the Nike Pitch Premier League Soccer Ball offers players a number of options that can help them improve their skills.
“I kind of feel sympathy for the players and especially the goalkeepers that have to get used to a new ball,” Goff says. So far the Telstar 18 has received criticism from a few goalkeepers that played with it starting in November, unhappy with how it moves in the air and the way the surface feels. Goalkeepers, unlike every other player on the pitch, have to predict where the ball will go in order to block it, while also not having the freedom to run around the field to adjust as the ball flies. That means goalies often have the most complaints about a new design. “Every time there’s a World Cup and a new ball the goalkeepers complain, because they’ve been given a new ball,” says Goff.
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.
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Latex bladders are used in high-quality balls. These kind of bladders are soft and provide good feeling. They offer better response and bounce than Butyl bladders, but the downside of this kind of bladder is they don’t hold the air for too long. As a result, they require filling more frequently. Air escapes due to micropores on the cover, but nowadays some balls are constructed with carbon latex bladder to help to close these micropores. As a result, the balls can hold air for a longer period.
This ball truly lives up to its name as a “glider,” having a stable flight path when shot and a nice feel when passed. The surface is relatively grippy, which is great for goalkeepers looking to practice their catches. Because the ball isn’t as slippery as some other replicas, you can shoot it with a bit more swerve, and dribbling and skill moves are a bit easier.
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