With the introduction of the Nike Flight ball came a lot of interest from fans wanting to know if they should purchase a ball or not. Straight up, I originally put together this post based on my initial experience with the ball, knocking it around for an hour in a rather large soccer field.
But earlier tonight, I was able to use it with some friends in a pick-up game. And a lot of things changed. Using it in a “game” completely blew my mind. I went questioning its performance, to completely understanding what Nike were talking about. With that in mind, I’ve kept my original thoughts on the ball and added some edits. Why?
- I’m not afraid to admit I was wrong – and in many respects I was!
- I’m hoping by giving you both viewpoints, it gives a better understanding of what the ball is all about.
So, my original thoughts/comments/post is listed below with a correction part listed below each section that reflects my thoughts after using it in a 90 minute pick-up game!
The Nike Flight ball is available at soccer.com.
Does Aerowsculpt Technology = More or Less Swerve?
The most common question and area of confusion lies around the swerve that you get with the ball. Some are wondering if it will swerve in oblivion like the Jabulani, and others are questioning if it just flies straight as an arrow.
Well, from my experience it is neither. Simply put, the concept behind the ball is to make it’s flight path more natural. Nike’s goal was to create a ball that goes where you want it to go. Personally, I feel like that is the goal of every ball. By using the grooved design, air is supposed to move more fluidly around the ball, allowing it to cut through the air without unnecessary drag and more uniformly.
When striking the ball and watching its flight path, it definitely arcs on a more direct path than other balls. For example, when I was striking the Nike Ordem, it seems to follow an arc but drops down more toward the end of a shot. With the Nike Flight, I found it followed the trajectory right until the end. So, before it hit the ground, it was still arcing 45degrees down rather than 75degrees like the Ordem.
CORRECTION: Straight up, this ball is so much sweeter than your average ball to strike. What I learned is that the harder you hit it, the more you can manipulate its flight. In other words, a short pass will not swerve as much as a firmly hit strike. This kind of follows my original thoughts. But, I definitely found that in a game like situation, it acts a lot differently than I expected.
There isn’t a perfect way to test/review how a ball moves in the air. It is more about feel from striking on repetition.
My take from the Nike Flight is that it more naturally follows a complete flight path, like the entire arc before dropping. Second ball is the Nike Ordem. pic.twitter.com/RVEonFAVJc
— Bryan Byrne (@SoccerCleats101) June 30, 2020
How Does It Feel To Strike?
When you are taking small touches on the ball, you can definitely sense there is more definition. So, you sort of feel the full curvature and grooves that exist on the surface. It doesn’t affect performance, or impact what you do on the ball. When striking it hard, you definitely can’t feel a texture difference. What you do get is a lot of ping, and I’d imagine a little more accuracy considering the concept of the Aerowsculpt design.
CORRECTION: Ok, so the common response I got from friends while playing in the pick-up game was that it feels heavy to strike, but it pings off your foot way more than you expect. It is a counterintuitive feeling, not what you would expect. So, as you strike the ball, you feel more of the impact, but the responsiveness as it leaves your foot is so much more rewarding!
Comparing the Flight Match vs Flight Club Ball
For those wondering what the difference is, well first thing would be the price. The Flight Match drops in at $159.99, while the Flight Club ball is listed at $39.99. Obviously, that is a substantial difference and one that requires proper differentiation between both. Is the match ball really that much better?
Well, as you would expect, the real difference lies in the technology found in each. And if you want the real deal, then the match ball and its 4 fused panels is the way to go. The Flight Club features a more traditional 12-panel design with tighter seam. In terms of actual materials, surely they aren’t that different? Well, in actuality they are. The match ball is 37% synthetic leather, 33% rubber, 20% Polyester and 10% cotton while the club ball is 60% rubber, 15% Polyurethane, 13% Polyester and 12% EVA. So, you are getting a very different ball. What they do have in common is the Aerowsculpt technology (or grooved design), which means they have similarity in flight and obviously visually.
CORRECTION: Not much to add here as I haven’t tested the Club version.
Final Take and Review
In reality, it takes a lot of time and effort to differentiate the Flight from the likes of the Merlin and the Ordem. Something I’m assuming Nike achieved using a lot of pro players over an extended period of time. What I can tell you is that it is a really fun ball to strike. A lot of fun! We used it in a kick around game tonight and the feedback from friends was very similar.
Do I buy into the fact it took 8 years of development to create this ball? Or that 8 years was needed? Not really to be honest. In fact, I found that previous Nike balls were just as fun to kick around and play matches with. But, there is definitely a special feel to this ball, the fact it is different to anything else on the market makes it a lot more intriguing.
Would I buy it? Considering it will be the next EPL and La Liga game ball, yes I would add it to the wish list of balls. And as stated, I had a lot of fun striking shots with it!
CORRECTION: I really, really, REALLY like this ball a lot more than I expected. I don’t by the whole 8 year thing to develop a ball, but my opinion is that this ball is clearly better than previous Nike releases. I spent 15 minutes post game with my buddy Ryan Harrison striking long passes, and it was a lot of fun. We quickly established that the ball flies so much longer and smoother in the air than other balls. And we also used other balls to compare. The ball flies so much longer than you expect (I can 100% confirm this from experience) and it really pops off your foot. Again, the ball feels slightly heavy to strike, but it just leaves your foot with so much energy and on a real natural flight path.
Final note for keepers. Our keeper, Mike, found that it was super easy to catch on straight shots where there was little spin. His opinion was that it proved easier to catch and hold. The added grooves helped with natural grip. But, when you add some spin, especially back spin, it feels a little more unreliable to catch and hold. So, it will have positives and negatives for keepers.
Is It Worth Buying?
This section comes from post testing, and obviously I would really like to have used it in a game for full experience. With the current climate, that just isn’t a reality! So……Initially, I was kind of like “if you are interested in it, then definitely considering buying it.” After play testing, I am all in!!! There is something very different about this ball and I have no doubt those of you that decide to buy one will enjoy what it has to offer.
If you are interested, the Nike Flight ball is available at soccer.com.