World Cup Video: Even NASA Hate The Jabulani Ball

Chris Wright

7th, July 2010


By Chris Wright

“The worst soccer ball in history” – not my words, the words of NASA no less!

This video features some fascinating tracking shots of the Jabulani World Cup ball ‘knuckling’ (something to do with asymmetric air flow) mid-flight.

You can read NASA’s full report here, although a quick summary of their various tests reads as follows…

“The Jabulani’s 440 gram weight, coupled with the high-altitude conditions in South Africa, means when at speeds of 44 mph or more the ball becomes susceptible to something called the ‘knuckle effect’ – i.e. the ball becomes unstable in the air and volatile swerving may occur.”

Isn’t progress a wonderful thing?

Posted in Videos, World Cup

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  1. Jim says:

    The weight of the ball is governed by FIFA standards for any type 5 soccer ball size. Perhaps NASA should compare older model soccer balls to this one, and perhaps they will find the same thing holds true of them also. It sounds like NASA’s statement is being over generalized by those who complain about a new ball.

  2. […] αυτό το Παγκόσμιο Κύπελλο: Πρώτον, η σπαστική μπάλα που αποδεδειγμένα με τη σφραγίδα της Nasa είναι αερόμπαλ… για την παραλία, δεύτερον, η εκπληκτική Ολλανδία που […]

  3. Luke says:

    That’s fascinating, i do feel fairly ripped off by the ball for this world cup. Good saves are now considered great saves due to that crazy sphere.

  4. Zen says:

    NASA has already stated in the video that the Jabulani’s smoother surface (read: compared to other balls) increases the knuckle effect at speeds over 44 mph. We already know the ball is smoother not in texture but in terms of the number of air channels (seams). The number of seams has been reduced by 2/3rds, and they are internal vs. external. Notice that the 3D texture does not provide air channels, but triangular peaks along the surface. Those small texture peaks will not channel and thereby create spin the way natural seams will. Seams increase the rate of spin more effectively. And a stable spin creates the curve trajectory of a sphere. So there you have it; the reason for the difference in the Jabulani’s flight beyond the 44 mph mark is due to fewer air channels along the surface of the ball compared to previous FIFA balls.

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