Nike has announced that its new official match ball, The ‘flight ball’ will be used for the 2020-21 premier league season with the sportswear giants pledging that its strange grooved design will help it fly “30% truer” than its predecessor, the Merlin.
Merlin had “Nike Aerowtrack grooves specifically engineered on the ball to ensure a more consistent flight path,” but this one takes it a step further. Way more groovy.
According to Kieran Rolan, NIKE’s senior director for global equipment “The new Flight ball now uses Aerowsculpt technology, which consists of four panels fused together, meaning 40% fewer stiff seams than a traditional 12-panel ball and a more prominent sweet spot — at least according to the accompanying blurb.
Nike AerowSculpt uses a patented technology of molding features into the surface of the ball, which are designed to improve aerodynamics and act in a similar fashion to the dimples on a golf ball.
Testing of the Nike Flight ball covered 68 different iterations over thousands of hours in the Lab. Additionally, more than 800 professional athletes participated in field testing validation before a final version was reached.
the NIKE equipment innovation lab utilized insight from players to create the final ball.the design process involved tracking the ball flight of different types of kicks, replicating the various kick types using a robotic leg, and testing the aerodynamics, construction and material of ball prototypes. after thousands of hours in the lab and 68 different iterations, the team landed on the final version that delivers a measurable benefit of 30% truer flight than its NIKE predecessor.
everything done at the lab is rooted in science, here, we are able to detect small differences in performance that may not be perceivable to most athletes, but when those small differences are iterated upon 68 times, the result is a noticeable leap in performance.
to reduce wobble and create more predictable and consistent flight, the NIKE innovation equipment lab engineered a solution that promotes air movement around the ball rather than gripping its surface. the performance-based design introduces NIKE aerowsculpt, a new proprietary aerodynamic technology. The construction started with a square-shaped aerotrack groove,’ explains ronan. ‘over the course of the 68 iterations, we modified the shape of the groove, added sculpted chevrons and explored multiple features throughout to deliver one geometric pattern that helps promote a more stable flight”, Ronan explained.