Why do certain soccer balls have different panel patterns on them? Is there controversy between each style? Which leagues and or tournaments use each style?

For example, see the pictures below...

"32 panel or Telstar" - 12 Pentagons and 20 Hexagons

enter image description here

"Teamgeist Soccer Ball" - 14 curved panels

enter image description here

"Jabulani Soccer Ball" - 8 three-dimensional panels

enter image description here

  • The different panel configurations do provide slightly different aerodynamic qualities, but I don't know the science off the top of my head.
    – wax eagle
    Oct 3, 2012 at 13:19
  • Yeah that's what I was thinking, but I wonder how it actually works. And some ball designs are shunned from what I have heard.
    – Zack
    Oct 3, 2012 at 13:48

2 Answers 2


Why do certain soccer balls have different panel patterns on them?

As technology advances, a soccer ball that holds its shape, provides true flight, and reduces air resistance is typically preferred. Many different designs (including those pictured above) strive to achieve such.

1950 World Cup Soccer Ball.

1950 World Cup Soccer Ball

Soccer balls during that era were made of irregular, large, flat, and simple panels. This affected its ability to hold its shape. Soccer balls today utilize more curved, complex panels. A mathematical look on the topology of soccer balls can be found here for reference.

Is there controversy between each style?

The "Teamgeist" soccer ball pictured above was used in the 2006 World Cup. Brazil, winners of the 2002 World Cup, had a tough time getting used to the ball. The main criticisms were that the ball was too light, favored ball-strikers over goal keepers, curved a lot in the air, and performed differently in rain. (1)

"Teamgeist" (Team Spirit) balls will produce unprecedented performances. -adidas, manufacturer of Teamgeist soccer balls

"I still haven't been able to find the best way to strike this ball. It's very light, the way they are doing it is completely different from before. It seems like it's made of plastic." -Roberto Carlos, defender for Brazil

"It gains a lot of velocity when it's raining." -Rogerio Ceni, goalkeeper for Brazil.

The "Jabulani" soccer ball pictured above was used in the 2010 World Cup. The criticisms were similar to the "Teamgeist." However, it's ball flight in air was unpredictable. (2) A "knuckle-ball" effect had also been reported. NASA did a study on said report. (3)

Which leagues and or tournaments use each style?

2006 World Cup - "Teamgeist"

2010 World Cup - "Jabulani"

FIFA covers guidelines soccer balls must adhere to in their rulebook:

Law 2, The Ball

Qualities and measurements

The ball is:

  • Spherical
  • Made of leather or other suitable material
  • Of a circumference of not more than 70 cm (28 ins) and not less than 68 cm (27 ins)
  • Of a pressure equal to 0.6 - 1.1 atmosphere (600 - 1,100 g/cm2) at sea level (8.5 lbs/sq in - 15.6 lbs/sq in)
  • 1
    +1: btw interesting that there is a huge range in terms of regulation pressure of the ball.
    – posdef
    Oct 4, 2012 at 14:48
  • @posdef another source i read talked about how a ball would react in higher elevation....so I can imagine that being the reason for deviation.
    – user527
    Oct 4, 2012 at 14:50
  • no expert in physics, but I guess it makes sense... I just thought it would make a bigger difference on the pitch, especially in exteremly wet/dry conditions.
    – posdef
    Oct 4, 2012 at 16:55

A soccerball that is designed with an icosahedron in mind will spread the impact force more equally over all seams, and theorethically last longer while maintaining the same form.

  • 1
    Sounds interesting, but can you give some references or explain more in detail?
    – Don_Biglia
    Sep 9, 2015 at 6:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.