This past July, Nike released the T90 Tracer ball to be used in some of the top leagues around the globe for the new season, leagues that include the English Premier League, Spain’s La Liga and Italy’s Serie A. It took Nike two years of extensive research to create this new ball, working with players and teams to come up with the finished program. After a month of testing it myself in training sessions and games, I can tell you that the process was well worth it! There is something special about this ball, especially if you compare it against other top soccer balls currently on the market. Here are my thoughts on how it performs.
From what I had heard about the ball before testing, I knew there was going to be something special about it. One of the first aspects you notice about the ball is the actual design, with very unique looking graphics that circle the ball. Like the Nike Elite range, there is a strong “visual” premise behind the ball that I was eager to try out. After testing it out Atletico Madrids Sergio Aguero stated that “the T90 Tracer always feels the same no matter where I strike it. It’s responsive and easily controlled in every situation.”
Touch and Control
One of the advancements to this ball is a unique 5 layer casing and construction that improves consistency on touch. One thing that is noticeable is the feel of the ball. When you hold it your hands it has a solid feel, as it does when it touches your foot. But, the difference lies in the fact that it actually has a rebound effect off your foot. It feels really smooth on contact, great feeling overall! Initially, I took the ball out for a knock around, a little jog while dribbling and some toe-taps. Dribbling, the T90 Tracer is great as it moves easily in sync with your boot as you move.
Whats up with the Dimples?
The dimples are part of the micro-textured casing material that is designed to equal the flow of air around the ball as it moves in the air. The ball still feels smooth as you rub your hand over it, it feels like they are “micro” dimples!
Created for Accuracy
In testing, Nike have stated that the T90 Laser is the most pin-point accurate soccer ball in the world, consistently hitting a 3-foot in diameter bulls-eye while the leading competitors were only able to hit a 6 foot diameter bulls-eye. It’s tough to actually test this on your own, but from fellow player feedback (who used the ball) it is very consistent when shooting. I think this is integral to a good ball. My personal opinion on the Adidas Jabulani (even though I called it the “Tiny Dancer”) was that it failed to help players do what they wanted with the ball. It might have been a nightmare for goalkeepers, but what use is that if top players can control it when shooting or spraying long balls? This is one area that I think the T90 Tracer excels as you are able to knock it where you want with confidence.
Evidently, the circle graphic seen running around the ball does serve a useful purpose! In technical speak “the high-contrast asymmetrical graphic generated a strong visual signal, which captures peripheral vision and focuses central vision more rapidly.” And I agree! When knocking this ball around, it is quick easy to spot as you move, especially as the ball circumnavigates the field.
As seen in the English Premier League
Already this season, there have been 86 goals scored in 30 games – an average of 2.9 goals per game. That is a pretty good return, particularly after the drought of goals at this summers World Cup. And the goals being scored have been spectacular. One of the issues at the World Cup was that players couldn’t seem to keep shots on target, but that does not seem to be an issue with the T90 Tracer.
In closing, I am a huge fan of this ball and it is probably one of the best currently on the market. Companies are spending large amounts of money on developing a soccer ball that ranks amongst the highest available on the market. And with the Adidas Jabulani achieving almost cult status during the World Cup, it was important that Nike released something that rivaled. And in my opinion, the T90 Tracer exceeds the quality seen in other releases. The main difference for me is the consistency that this ball offers on the field. If you are in the market for a new match ball, this is a great option!
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