Monday, June 14, 2010

world cup thoughts, part 2

The new ball: It's pretty obvious after watching several games that players are struggling a bit with the ball, which raises an obvious question: why introduce a new ball for every World Cup? The canonical answer is always that the new ball travels more unpredictably through the air, and will result in more spectacular goals from distance. But the actual result is that the players aren't used to the ball, and that goes for goalkeepers and attacking players. In this World Cup, the new ball seems to bounce unnaturally high, and travel a lot farther than any player predicts. I don't think I've seen a single free kick on target yet. A new ball takes getting used to, and even if players have been training with a new type of ball for a month, they'll still be working with implicit memories they've built up through years and years of playing. They train day after day for years to perfect their technique with a standard type of ball (with small variations). Introducing something new just before a massive tournament is a recipe for throwing them off.

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