The science behind JABULANI, the 2010 official match ball (including video)

The science behind JABULANI, the 2010 official match ball (including video)
Date:31 May 2010 Tags:, , , , ,

In isiZulu, Jabulani means to celebrate. So who will be doing the celebrating when the official 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa ball, the Adidas Jabulani, flies through the air – strikers or ‘keepers? Whatever the outcome, the official match ball blends a South African-inspired design and radical new technology.

Its newly developed “Grip’n’Groove” profile allows stable flight and exceptional grip under all conditions. Its eight all-new thermally bonded 3D panels are, for the first time, spherically moulded, providing greater roundness and dimensional accuracy than ever before. (Watch the video showing how this latest piece of soccer engineering is made.)

The name
The name Jabulani originates from isiZulu, one of South Africa’s 11 official languages, which is spoken by almost 1 in 4 of the population. Literally translated, Jabulani means “to celebrate”. Football is a passion that unites the world. The name of the new match ball appropriately pays tribute to the passionate football celebration international fans will enjoy in South Africa.

The design
Eleven different colours are used in the Adidas Jabulani, the eleventh Adidas World Cup ball (see below: World Cup soccer balls dating back to 1970). These 11 colours represent the 11 players in every team, the 11 official languages of South Africa and the 11 South African tribes that make the country one of the most ethnologically diverse countries on the African continent. The colourful design brings together the tremendous diversity of the country in harmonious unity. Four triangle-shaped design elements on a white background lend the ball a unique appearance in African spirit. And, like the outer facade of Johannesburg’s Soccer City Stadium, individual design elements also capture the colourfulness of South Africa.

3D panel shapes
The Match Ball for the 2010 FIFA World Cup features a completely new, ground-breaking technology. Eight 3D spherically formed EVA and TPU panels are moulded together, enveloping the inner carcass. The result is an energetic unit combined with supreme roundness. After the first tests, players from all over the world were enthusiastic about the new ball, predicting a goalscoring boom: Michael Ballack:
Petr Cech:
Frank Lampard:
Kaká:

Grip’n’Groove profile
Aero grooves create the clearly visible profile on the ball’s surface. The Grip’n’Groove profile circling the entire ball is designed to be optimally aerodynamic. Integrated grooves enhance flight characteristics, contributing to what has been called the most stable and most accurate Adidas ball ever. The ground-breaking performance features of the Jabulani have been confirmed in comprehensive comparison tests at Loughborough University in England, and countless checks in the wind tunnel and the Adidas football laboratory in Scheinfeld, Germany.
Since the introduction of the “goose bumps” surface for the last European Championship ball, the microtexture of the new ball’s outer skin has also been given a visible facelift. The Jabulani has a futuristic texture with impressive grip, giving players control over the ball under all weather conditions.

Here is a comparison of the FIFA soccer ball standards and the Jabulani stats (source: Popular Science)
* Circumference: FIFA Standard: 68,5-69,5 cm; Jabulani: 69,0 +/- 0,2.
* Roundness: Diameter is measured in 16 different locations. FIFA Standard: max 1,5 per cent difference; Jabulani: max 1,0 per cent difference.
* Water absorption: A ball is pressed and rotated in water 250 times: FIFA Standard: max 10 per cent weight increase; Jabulani: 0 per cent weight increase.
* Weight: FIFA standard: 420-445 g; Jabulani: 440 +/- 0,2 grams.
* Uniform rebound: The only dynamic FIFA test, the ball is dropped ten times on a steel plate from two metres. The difference from the lowest to the highest bounce can be no more than 10 cm; Jabulani bounced in a range from 143 to 149 cm.
* Loss of pressure: Air pressure measured three days after inflation. FIFA Standard: 20 per cent max loss; Jabulani: 10 per cent max loss.

Adidas involves world-class athletes in the development and testing of its products. For the Adidas Jabulani, Adidas partners AC Milan, FC Bayern München, the Orlando Pirates and Ajax Cape Town tested the ball in 2008, contributing to improvements in the surface structure and material composition.

Adidas has committed itself to using innovative technology to extend its world-leading position in football production and strengthen its position as in high-performance sporting goods for professionals and amateurs alike. With that in mind, the company intends unveiling more innovations in match ball production for future UEFA, FIFA and CAF competitions. In fact, the Adidas innovation team is already hard at work on a design for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.

Related material:
* Video: Jabulani – a unique look into the complex manufacturing steps to create the ball
* Article: Making the World Cup go ’round