New season, new ball. The three big football leagues—England’s Premier League, Spain’s La Liga, and Italy’s Serie A—begin in just a few weeks, and Nike has developed a fancy, new ball for them that’s loaded with all types of hi-tech goodness that may pique your interest. It’s called the T90 Ascente. Goalkeepers will hate it; flashy forwards will love it.
What’s so damn special about the ball? The Nike bullet points are: “360 Sweet Spot,” “Longer Range,” “Increased Visibility,” “Higher Accuracy,” and “Greater Speed.”
Breaking those down, the “360 Sweet Spot” refers to the way the ball reacts to being kicked. Usually, footballs have a “sweet spot,” like the “meat” of a baseball bat, that you’re trained to hit for maximum speeds, accuracy, etc. Apparently the T90 Ascente doesn’t have a “sweet spot,” per se, rather that the whole ball is a sweet spot. That is, wherever you kick it, the ball will react as if you’ve kicked the sweet spot. Good news for Quaresma. (Why do sports compilation videos on YouTube always have terrible music?)
Longer range? That’s pretty obvious, right? The ball is constructed in three layers, and this somehow makes the ball travel two ball lengths longer than previous Nike footballs.
Increased visibility. You’ll notice the patterns on the ball; it sort of looks like the scanner from Half-Life 2:
Anyhow, the patterns are such that they create a “flicker” as the ball spins. That’ll be helpful on those awful, gray winter days in Liverpool.
If you actually had the ball in your hands, you’d see that its surface is textured to a degree that’s probably a little different than the last ball you kicked. Nike calls it “micro-textured,” which basically lets air flow around the ball more smoothly, creating less resistance, etc. You know, like the dimples on a golf ball.
The T90 Ascenete is also faster than previous balls, traveling at about 22.19 m/s (72.17 feet/s). Something to do with the three-layer construction.
All this talk of multi-layer construction reminds me of the great Razor Blade Wars of the past decade. “Our razor has three blades.” “Well our razor has four blades.” “Ha! Our blade has five blades!.
And, uh, if you speak Spanish, watch this video. It explains the technological wonder of the ball.
Nike has its own video, in English, that I can’t embed. (Though, if I were feeling crazy, I could probably just swipe the Flash file then upload to our CG YouTube account. No thanks.) It’s here if you’re interested.
About 15 minutes ago I wrote “Goalkeepers will hate it; flashy forwards will love it.” But now I see FC Barcelona’s goalkeeper Víctor Valdés praising the ball in that Spanish video. Figures.