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. 2014 May 29;4:5068.
doi: 10.1038/srep05068.

Effect of Panel Shape of Soccer Ball on Its Flight Characteristics

Free PMC article

Effect of Panel Shape of Soccer Ball on Its Flight Characteristics

Sungchan Hong et al. Sci Rep. .
Free PMC article


Soccer balls are typically constructed from 32 pentagonal and hexagonal panels. Recently, however, newer balls named Cafusa, Teamgeist 2, and Jabulani were respectively produced from 32, 14, and 8 panels with shapes and designs dramatically different from those of conventional balls. The newest type of ball, named Brazuca, was produced from six panels and will be used in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. There have, however, been few studies on the aerodynamic properties of balls constructed from different numbers and shapes of panels. Hence, we used wind tunnel tests and a kick-robot to examine the relationship between the panel shape and orientation of modern soccer balls and their aerodynamic and flight characteristics. We observed a correlation between the wind tunnel test results and the actual ball trajectories, and also clarified how the panel characteristics affected the flight of the ball, which enabled prediction of the trajectory.


Figure 1
Figure 1. Photograph of the wind tunnel test setup.
Figure 2
Figure 2. Soccer balls used for the test and their panel orientations.
(a, b) Adidas Brazuca: small dimple and six panels, (c, d) Adidas Cafusa: small grip texture and 32 modified panels, (e, f) Adidas Jabulani: small ridges or protrusions and eight panels, (g, h) Adidas Teamgeist 2: small protuberances and 14 panels; (i, j) Molten Vantaggio (conventional soccer ball): smooth surface and 32 pentagonal and hexagonal panels. (Photo by S.H.).
Figure 3
Figure 3. Variation of the drag coefficient with the type of ball and panel orientation: (a) Brazuca, (b) Cafusa, (c) Jabulani, (d) Teamgeist 2, (e) conventional ball.
Figure 4
Figure 4. Scatter plots of the side and lift forces of the balls and SDs of the respective forces for each flow velocity (after 9 s).
As the flow velocity increased from 20 m·s−1 (a–j) to 30 m·s−1 (a-1– j-1), the irregular fluctuations of the side and lift forces increased. The SD of the side (k) and lift (l) forces increased with increasing flow velocity.
Figure 5
Figure 5. Correlation between the growth rate of the SD of the side and lift forces with increasing flow velocity and the extended total distance of the panel bond.
Figure 6
Figure 6. Amplitude with respect to unsteady aerodynamic forces (blue line: side force, red line: lift force) of soccer balls derived using FFT at flow speed of 30 m·s−1.
(a, b) Brazuca, (c, d) Cafusa, (e, f) Jabulani, (g, h) Teamgeist 2, and (i, j) conventional ball.
Figure 7
Figure 7. Comparison of the flight characteristics (points of impact) of the different balls for different panel orientations (initial launch velocity of 30 m·s−1 and angle of 15°).
(a) Brazuca, (b) Cafusa, (c) Jabulani, (d) Teamgeist 2, (e) conventional ball.
Figure 8
Figure 8. Correlations between the standard deviations of the wind tunnel tests and the kick robot tests.

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