Nike Flight; a game-changing new soccer ball from the swoosh has arrived! There is no doubt about it, this is a ball with a very unique visual design. But, that revolutionary design is set to address issues of inconsistent aerodynamics. Incorporating Nike’s new AerowSculpt technology, the ball delivers a measurable benefit of 30% truer flight than its Nike predecessor.
So, what is it that makes this new Nike Flight ball so special?
Eight Years of Research!
Nike has been working on this project since 2012, when the Nike Equipment Innovation Lab started an eight-year investigation into improving consistency of ball flight. Through that time, insights from players were addressed in three important stages: Explore, Recreate and Innovate.
EXPLORE – For the Nike Flight ball, the Explore phase utilized several tracking systems to measure ball flight of different types of kicks through-out game play. This helped the Lab to understand what conditions the ball experiences during play, and allowed engineers to link quantifiable measurements to elite players.
RECREATE – Within the Recreate phase, the Lab replicated the kick types observed on pitch, and utilized a robotic leg to replicate a variety of kicks observed in a repeatable and quantifiable way. This process allowed the ability to measure small differences in performance between balls and gather a suite of quantifiable tests to innovate against.
INNOVATE – Within the controlled environment, the Lab was able to test innovative ideas around aerodynamics, constructions and materials. Testing of the Nike Flight ball covered 68 different iterations over thousands of hours in the Lab. Additionally, over 800 professional athletes participated in field testing validation before a final version was reached.
“Everything done at the Lab is rooted in science. Here, we are able to detect small differences in performance that may not be perceivable to most athletes, but when those small differences are iterated upon 68 times, the result is a noticeable leap in performance.” – Kieran Ronan, Nike Senior Director for Global Equipment.
How to Improve Ball Flight Consistency!
1. In order to reduce wobble, and thus create more predictable and consistent flight, the Nike Innovation Equipment Lab engineered a solution that promotes air movement around the ball rather than gripping its surface. The performance-based design introduces Nike AerowSculpt, a new proprietary aerodynamic technology.
“The construction started with a square shaped Aerotrack groove. Over the course of the 68 iterations, we modified the shape of the groove, added sculpted chevrons, and explored multiple features throughout to deliver one geometric pattern that helps promote a more stable flight,” explains Ronan.
2. The panel configuration also influences how the ball flies. Nike Flight carries a fuse-welded four panel construction with 40% fewer stiff seams than a traditional 12 panel ball. This construction enables a prominent sweet spot for superior touch and performance.
3. An additional design element comes in the re-purposing of Nike ACC (All Conditions Control) 3D ink. Introduced in 2014, ACC helps ensure optimal grip in wet or dry conditions. The Nike Flight ball uses the 3D ink layout to strategically print “micro flaps” along Nike AerowSculpt, dragging off of aerospace principles and further optimizing aerodynamic stability.
The new Nike Flight ball officially drops today, June 29th. We have one in testing right now and will have a more detailed take available later today!
Find the Nike Flight ball available right now at soccer.com.