Working with business

Case studies

Revolutionising the design, testing and manufacture of cutting-edge sports equipment
Revolutionising the design, testing and manufacture of cutting-edge sports equipment

Re-engineering the football

  • Revolutionising the design, testing and manufacture of cutting-edge sports equipment

Loughborough academics have been applying engineering principles to the development of sports products since the mid-1980s. Their work has attracted substantial funding and revolutionised the design, testing and manufacture of cutting-edge sports equipment.

Global sports brand adidas first approached the Sports Technology Research Group – based in the £15m Sports Technology Institute (STI) – in 2002. Since then, a number of collaborative projects have influenced the development of elite and commercially available footballs.

These innovative engineering projects have spanned design, construction and materials – resulting in footballs that meet strict FIFA performance standards, but have enhanced aesthetic and tactile appeal.

The research has resulted in novel analysis software to facilitate and expedite these design decisions, and drawn on expertise from unexpected fields such as aeronautical and automotive engineering – particularly around ball aerodynamics and flight simulation.

Over the past nine years, Loughborough expertise has underpinned the design of adidas footballs for the FIFA World Cup (2006, 2010 and 2014), the UEFA EURO Championship (2008), and the Olympic Games (2008-12).

Impact

  • WORLD CLASS 

    Loughborough research has underpinned the footballs used at international football tournaments since 2006.

  • INCREASED GLOBAL SALES 

    Sales of adidas match balls and their replicas increased 10-fold during the first eight years of the research partnership.

  • INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION 

    Members of the Group have been invited to submit articles to international journals and present at global conferences, and media coverage of their work has been widespread.