Every four years, in the months preceding the World Cup Adidas have released a new ball. In 2006 the Teamgeist shocked the world with its thermally bonded panels which completely rid it of stitching. After some initial outcry, this ball is now regarded as one of the most succesful and intuitive balls ever. Now for the 2010 World Cup and in many leagues for the 10-11 season Adidas have released the Jabulani.
Before we get to my opinion of the ball, as well as many professionals’ opinions, here is a little about the ball. It is formed from eight thermally bonded panels rather than the 14 on the Teamgeist. On the surface are small bumps designed to enhance contact and flow through the air, a feaure Adidas calls “Grip ‘n Groove.” It is extremely water resistant, and complies with all of FIFA’s requirements.
On the worlds biggest stage, there is sure to be criticism of every aspect of the equipment. This is why the Jabulani saw so much dispute. Most of this came from goalkeepers including such prolific stars as Gianluigi Buffon, Iker Casillas, and Júlio César. However criticism also came from England’s coach, Fabio Capello, as well as Brazilian strikers Luis Fabiano and Robinho. In all the instances of criticism one thing has been clear. The stars all say the ball is unpredictable in the air.
I had the chance to use this ball even before the World Cup started. The first thing you notice when you pick up the ball are the unique panels. Unlike traditional balls the seams are nearly invisible and have no sign of stitching. The next thing I felt was the squishy surface. This is due to the five layer construction Adidas uses to enhance durability and keep water out. I was able to push my finger almost a centimeter into the ball, and let me tell you, that makes a difference when kicking the ball. The ball immediately flies away, often bouncing far and high across the ground. When the ball is rolling across the ground I found it can travel very fast while still remaining on course. However, in the air, I fear the criticism is sometimes true. When you blindly kick the ball without much attention to your form it often does dance in the air and often veers away from targets. However if you hit it correctly you can put incredible amounts of spin on the ball and have it fly true to your target. When shooting this ball does often seem to blast over the crossbar, but when you hit it true it rockets into the back of the net, especially on volleys.
I love this ball, while it may be unpredictable at times that trains you to become a better player and work around it. You can hit this ball much farther, and it is a joy to look at. Above all it was the official World Cup ball and that alone should be enough reason to own it. Even though the World Cup is over, this is still a great ball to have.
*Note* We actually tested the Jo’bulani. This is the exact same ball as the Jabulani, except it is the colorway that was used for the World Cup Final. If you noticed that from the pictures, well done!
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