New Adidas Ball a Gift for World Cup Goalkeepers

Michael Giberson

Adidas has generated a lot of talk and press over its new Teamgeist soccer ball design, which has been on display at this year’s World Cup. A FIFA story on the public introduction of the ball in December 2005 said it would be “loved by goalscorers, feared by goalkeepers? and “offers a guarantee of goals and excitement at the forthcoming FIFA World Cup.? The Washington Post story on the ball’s design carried the theme:

Teamgeist … sparked controversy from the first practice. German goalie Jens Lehmann was among the first to complain; the ball’s surface is coated with polyurethane, making it “slippery” for goalkeepers. But English team captain (and paid Adidas spokesplayer) David Beckham has said he likes the ball, which offers a bigger sweet spot for kickers.

The ball also was quietly introduced into Major League Soccer at the beginning of the year. DC United goalkeeper Troy Perkins concurred with Lehmann that Teamgeist Berlin is “a nightmare, an absolute nightmare.”

Another story from just before the start of the World Cup quoted “Dr Ken Bray, a sports scientists at the University of Bath and author of the new popular science book How to Score – Science and the Beautiful Game? explaining just how the ball’s aerodynamic properties will trouble goalkeepers. Bray said, “With the world’s best players in Germany this summer, there are bound to be plenty of spectacular scoring free kicks.?

Adidas teamgiest.jpgBut the numbers generated by the 62 games played so far suggest little effect on overall performance. There have been 1458 shots taken in the 2006 tournament so far, of which 674 have been on target (46.2 percent). Goalkeepers have recorded 474 saves, amounting to just over 70 percent of shots on target.

Compare those numbers to the results through the 64 games of the 2002 World Cup: a total of 1423 shots, of which 689 were on target (48.4 percent). Goalkeepers made 451 saves, which constitutes about 65 percent of shots on target.

Average goals per game are down as well, dropping to 2.23 goals in 2006 so far compared to 2.51 per game in 2002. (The current record low of 2.21 goals per game was set in 1990.) Instead of becoming a goal-scoring frenzy, FIFA President Sepp Blatter worries that this year’s World Cup might end up as the lowest scoring ever.

So comparing the games played with the new ball to the games played in 2002:

  • players have taken 1.25 more shots per game on average,
  • fewer of the shots have been on target, and
  • goalkeepers have saved more of the shots that were on target.

Doesn’t exactly sound like a goalkeeper’s nightmare.

Two more games to play—Saturday’s Germany-Portugal consolation match and Sunday’s France-Italy final. Will announcers and reporters repeat more of the hype that has helped the company sell 15 million Teamgeist balls, or will some journalist out there report actual data?

UPDATE: Data from Major League Soccer is consistent with the “small gift to goalkeepers” view of the new Adidas ball. This year with the new ball MLS games have averaged 2.59 goals (data through July 4), whereas last year the league showed an average of 2.87 goals per game.

MORE: I just found a June 30 story by Mark Liegler of The San Diego Union-Tribune that beat me to this conclusion: “New soccer ball a net loss for goal scoring.”


9 thoughts on “New Adidas Ball a Gift for World Cup Goalkeepers

  1. p90x

    Before you start hunting for a gym or a fitness training center that offers 24 hour fitness personal training program, you should first consult your doctor about the kind of exercise that you should engage in, especially if you have some pre- existing …

  2. p90x

    Before you start hunting for a gym or a fitness training center that offers 24 hour fitness personal training program, you should first consult your doctor about the kind of exercise that you should engage in, especially if you have some pre- existing …

  3. p90x

    Before you start hunting for a gym or a fitness training center that offers 24 hour fitness personal training program, you should first consult your doctor about the kind of exercise that you should engage in, especially if you have some pre- existing …

Comments are closed.