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Keep your Eye on the Ball

It is soccer time! Everywhere you look, soccer balls are kicked, thrown and enjoyed by young and old. But, have you ever wondered, why a soccer ball is a specific colour? Why it has stripes, blocks or circles on? VISION investigates, and points out what makes them visually special.

Firstly, there are so many different soccer balls on the market; the professional match ball, the match ball, the practice ball, the indoor ball, the futsal ball and lastly the promotional ball. Yes, I know that most of these balls are dynamically designed to fly exceptionally true, and that they have passed the highest ratings, but why the particular colour or design?


Let’s start with the most important ball for 2010 – the official World Cup match ball, called the JABULANI. JABULANI means “celebrations” or “come to bring happiness to everyone”.
There are eleven colours used on the JABULANI, surprisingly it is also the eleventh Adidas World Cup ball. These 11 colours represent also the 11 players in every team and the 11 official languages of South Africa.

The colourful four triangle-shapes with the white background lend the ball a unique appearance in African spirit. This design and colours fixates the player’s eyes on the ball while rotating and moving over the field. The white background makes it easy for you, as supporter, to notice against the green field. The design creates a visual signal that keeps your eyes focused on the ball, while Bafana Bafana scores another goal (hopes). Isn’t that just Ayoba!!

This is an exceptional ball in quality and design, and Adidas even claims that it has surpassed its own Teamgeist ball from 2006 World Cup, in constructing the roundest and most accurate ball ever played.

To make it more exciting – the final match is played by a special design – the white and gold Jo’bulani.


Then there is the Nike Total 90 Hi-Vis soccer ball, developed with leading sports-vision scientists, and designed to aid soccer players in low light conditions especially in the winter months. According to our investigation, this is the very first soccer ball, where a vision-scientist helped with the development of a soccer ball. They studied arrangement, contrast and effects of different colours. Different designs, artificial light and field backgrounds, were also looked at.

They determined that yellow is the most visible casing colour to the human eye in lower light conditions and have combined this with the optimum contrasting colour, dark blue. According to the Nike scientists, “The Hi-Vis represents a significant visual contrast and will help players to maintain visual effectiveness and attain optimum performance levels”
It is the most visible ball in the world. The design and colours makes it easier for players to identify, focus and react to the ball. Players are forced to see the ball easier against green grass, blazing floodlights and packed stand, and so do the spectators.

The asymmetrical high-contrast graphic creates a "flicker effect", which allows players to read the speed and spin from any angle, catching peripheral vision and engaging central vision quickly.

According to tests done, the ball forces quicker reactions from players and keepers and is 350 per cent brighter than a traditional white ball.


The white and blue Nike T90 Ascente Hi-Vis is the Official Ball of the English Premier League. It creates the same “flicker” effect as the blue and purple Hi-Vis ball, but the white color is easier to pick-up in normal light conditions.


Nike and (RED) ™ designed a ball to fight HIV/AIDS through education and medication. Nike will contribute 100% of its profits from the sales of (Nike) RED Limited Edition Soccer Balls to the Global Fund and to support soccer-based programs to help fight AIDS in Africa.

Not only is this ball helping for a great cause, but it is also designed with vision in mind. It has eye-catching graphics to bring your focus back to centre, to catch peripheral vision and engage central vision, with a durable, streamlined design.


Finally, did you know that the very first soccer ball was made by Charles Goodyear in 1836? Imagine playing with this brown ball against a green or brown field, and even worse in low light conditions. Thank goodness for technology and inventions. I am sure the “modern” soccer ball causes much more exciting soccer moments than ever before! Enjoy the 2010 World Cup, and keep your Eye on the Ball!!

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