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Today, adidas presented the Official Ball for the UEFA EURO 2012: the “Tango 12”. It took us approximately two years from first technical concepts through to design development and extensive testing to production start.

Every time we prepare ourselves for a big tournament we go back to our labs and our test centres to come up with the best ball possible based on our strong track record in research and development. The ball for the UEFA EURO 2012 is no exception.

And every time we bring out a new ball there is also some controversy – is the ball flying straight, is it too light, too small? – just to mention some of the questions we are always getting.

Testing is key for enhancement

And I can tell you one thing for sure: No, it is neither too light, nor too small because it always passes a rigorous testing and it exceeds all FIFA Approved Standards (which have been developed by EMPA, an independent research institute).

However, we also set our own standards which are even stricter than FIFA’s are. We test all different aspects such as the roundness of the ball, its weight and whether it absorbs water and therewith changes its playing characteristics throughout a game (by the way: no, it doesn’t). Another test we do is about accuracy.

adidas' robotic leg

Test, test, test! adidas' robotic leg

There is a robotic leg in our test centre in Herzogenaurach which hits the ball again and again on a goal distance of 22 metres. With this robotic leg you can reproduce any shot as often as you want. Its execution will always be exactly the same – leg and foot angles will not vary by any degree. With the robotic leg and high-speed cameras we are able to analyse the ball’s exact flight characteristics. In our tests, the Tango 12 always hit its target with a maximal deviation of 20 cm. This is very accurate, considering a ball’s own circumference of approx. 20 cm.

You will find all ball characteristics we are testing and the respective results in the infographic below (click on the image to enlarge).

Infographic: testing of the adidas Tango 12

Infographic: Testing of the adidas Tango 12

Here is a video which explains the lab testing in more detail.

Finding the balance by listening

David Villa with the adidas Tango 12

David Villa and the Tango 12

Quantitative lab testing and meeting the FIFA Approved Standards is important. But meeting our own objective of providing athletes with the best possible equipment and thus enabling them to achieve their peak performance demands even more. This goal requires that we listen to the experiences and preferences of all the athletes out there and evaluate this data adequately. What is a player’s first impression, playing the ball? Does the athlete like its bounce? What can we change in order to keep up with the increase in the overall pace of the game? These and other questions bring us closer to our goal to perfectly balance the key characteristics of a ball – according to the athlete’s valuable input.

Therefore we always do qualitative player testing with athletes of all skill levels, too. These tests are conducted by a mix of outfield players and goalkeepers, federations and clubs from both elite and grass roots football.

The players’ feedback was always extremely positive.

All in all, the Tango 12 is the most and best tested ball in the history of adidas.

I am very proud of the results we achieved and the way we enhanced the ball’s balance. Now I am looking forward to seeing it officially on the field, kicked by athletes such as Lionel Messi and Bastian Schweinsteiger as well as by Sunday league players around the globe. It will further boost my team’s motivation to give everything we’ve got in order to find ways to further enhance one of the products we are currently working on: the Official Ball for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.

Now it’s on you: Get out there and test it yourself.