The ball might have been good for kicking, but the stitching as well as the fact that the leather would absorb water meant that they were very uncomfortable to head! One little known fact about the importance of the football involves the World Cup final of In order to make things as fair as possible, the Argentinian ball was used for the first-half and the Uruguayan one was used in the second-half.
Argentina were up at half-time, only for Uruguay to run out winners by the end of the game. Would the result have been different had the Argentinian ball been used for the full ninety minutes? In the wake of the Second World War, material began to be used in between the outer leather facade and the bladder inside.
Obviously this offered a degree of cushioning and also ensured that the ball could maintain its shape easier. Initially this was because of the introduction of floodlights, with a decision taken to white-wash the leather in order to allow the ball to be more visible from the crowd. Then, when it snowed, an orange ball was used for the first time.
Different countries tended to play with differently sized balls, causing all sorts of problems when it came to international football matches. The balls themselves underwent numerous developments before that, of course. This new type of ball was officially used for the first time at the World Cup in Mexico, when an Adidas Telstar ball was introduced.
It was also the first ball to feature alternating white and black panels, with the hope being that the darker colour would allow players to see any swerve taking affect on the ball. Four years later, when the tournament returned to Mexico, polyurethane balls were used for the first time. Blue replaced black as the secondary colour, with a small amount of red also added in order to ensure that the tricolore of red, white and blue was present.
When the tournament was held in Japan and Korea in , any pretence of holding on to the traditional colours was abandoned in favour of a golden-coloured ball that began a complete shift in the way that balls were designed.
The first major shift in the design of the ball rather than the colouring of it came about in , when Adidas introduced the Teamgeist. This ball had fourteen panels rather than the traditional thirty-two, meaning that more control was given to the players and that the ball was closer to be completely spherical than ever before. The panels were also moulded together rather than stitched, a design process that would be continued with the Jabulani ball that was used in South Africa in That featured just eight panels and was one of the most controversial balls in World Cup history.
Nevertheless, from the moment that the first synthetic balls were introduced in the s and synthetic leather completely replace regular leather in the s, the way football is played changed in its entirety. The design of footballs continues to change and develop, with the delicate balance between a ball that is light but firm, spherical and with an easily predicted flight-path a difficult one to find. Designers will continue to find ways to make the balls the most important but under-appreciated part of the game.
One of the questions posed in the introduction but not yet answered is regarding the size of a football. Professional leagues around the world use a Size 5 ball, the measurements of which we told you about earlier. That is also the size of the ball used in the World Cup and other major tournaments. In essence, the Size 5 is the ball that should be used for those playing proper football who are aged fourteen and up. The different type of football being played also dictates some information about the ball.
Typically, five-a-side games are played with a standard football if the game is taking place outdoors. Also Size 5, training balls tend to be made from slightly more durable material than balls used for official matches.
The only occasion you will use a smaller ball for matches is when playing futsal, which uses a size 4 ball that weighs the same as a size 5 ball. Beyond that, you want to decide is how close to the footballs used by pros you want to go. An official FIFA-approved match ball will costs a lot more than any other ball, and although it will be made from the best materials and an absolute joy to play with, it might not be as durable as a training ball, which are built to last at the cost of some playability.
Within the premium match ball bracket there is also a fair bit of variation — there are some more durable options that will be cheaper than the absolute top-end balls used in the World Cup or Champions League. There are also specialist balls for different types of football, such as indoor balls, which are less bouncy than an outdoor ball and have a felt surface, and beach balls, which have a softer cover for playing barefoot.
Astroturf surfaces tend to differ greatly but in general, you can use a regular football on them. Synthetic leather is used to make the very finest footballs, which offer the best feel and control for players. Polyurethane PU is a durable material that is used for premium match balls and also to make most training balls, though some cheaper ones use PVC.
You also need to consider what the bladder inside is made of. Latex is used in premium balls to provide a softer feel, but latex bladders require frequent inflation. Cheaper balls use heavier materials like butyl that might not feel quite as good on the foot, but will stay inflated for months at a time.
A brilliant everyday football, the Nike Strike Pro has a textured, machine-stitched outer surface that treads the line perfectly between feeling great on the foot and durability. The Strike Pro comes in a huge variety of designs, including balls linked to European leagues and top players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar, but all of the Nike Strike balls feature bold graphics designed to help you track the ball as it pings around the pitch.
If you want a ball that plays almost as well as a match ball and is robust enough to last you many months of kickabouts, the Strike is your best bet. Thanks to Nike's new Aerosculpt technology, the ball is more stable in flight, with moulded grooves disrupting airflow across it and reducing drag.
Like its predecessor, the Nike Merlin, the Flight features four fused panels to create a large sweet spot and incorporates the company's All Conditions Control technology, making it easier to keep under your spell regardless of the weather.
Buy now from Nike. It's not always possible to get down to the park and not everyone has a back garden big enough to kick around in. That's where the Vigoreux Chastep Foam ball comes in. This 8in football is bouncy, soft and lightweight, making it perfect for a bit of passing practice in the hallway or keepy uppies in the kitchen.
Playing with it isn't recommended around priceless family heirlooms or expensive household tech but used responsibly and ideally, under parental supervision, this ball is great for kids making their first steps towards potential football stardom. It can handle constant use on pretty much any surface and in any weather, such is its durability, and it retains air like an absolute champ. All three boast excellent durability but the outer surfaces tend to improve as you go up the line, with the Max offering a nicely textured PU outer for increased control.
The PU outer is resilient and has a textured surface to enhance ball control, while the laminated power bladder inside the ball is designed to keep your shots straight and true as they fly towards to the top corner, or indeed out for a throw-in, depending on how precise your shots tend to be. If you want to splash out a bit more, there's the Delta Max , which features outer material made of a microfibre PU that is more durable and better protected against scuffs and scratches than that used on the Delta.
The company says the stars are the star this time around, with the signature silhouettes from the UCL logo splashed across the ball in an eye-catching blue.
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