‘Wob­bly’ ball to be kicked out

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Sam Dean

The “knuck­le­ball” free-kick, pop­u­larised by Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, could be­come a thing of the past as top leagues pre­pare to use a ball that sup­pos­edly does not wob­ble in the air.

The knuck­le­ball tech­nique has be­come a favoured method of shoot­ing for some top play­ers, with the “punch­ing” mo­tion caus­ing the ball to move un­pre­dictably through the air, baf­fling goal­keep­ers who can­not read its tra­jec­tory.

Sci­en­tists at Nike claim that their lat­est ball (right), which will be used in the Premier League from next sea­son, will have a more “pre­dictable and con­sis­tent” flight.

Nike said the ball was the re­sult of an eight-year in­ves­ti­ga­tion into im­prov­ing con­sis­tency of foot­ball flight.

The com­pany claims the de­sign “pro­motes air move­ment around the ball rather than grip­ping its sur­face”, there­fore re­duc­ing the wob­ble as it moves through the air. Nike said this would help to re­duce mis­placed long passes or shots that stray off tar­get. Asked in 2014 to de­scribe the knuck­le­ball, Real Madrid player Bale said: “You want to run up and hit it as flat as you can, with a bit of top­spin to get it up and over the wall. “Hope­fully the air moves the ball and it de­ceives the keeper a bit.”

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