Monday, January 2, 2012

Is today's balls the best possible for Floorball?

Lets push the ball a bit... in terms of design ideas.
The initial Floorball ball was first developed for baseball practice. But soon some improvements came along and several designs have been seen over the last decades to create the very best possible Floorball - ball. The most significant development is the dimples, or similar surface designs, it looks almost like a golfball and maybe also - the enhanced hole design in the last ball from Unihoc - could be worth to be mentioned too.

But all these designs rest upon some kind of a fixed rule book that say that the ball must have this many holes of this specific size, the ball must weigh this much and so forth? Or does it not?

This is what the rule book for Floorball state posted at the IFF:
406 Ball
1) The ball shall be approved by the IFF and marked accordingly.
The ball surface shall be single coloured in a non-fluorescent colour. Neither the inside colour of the
ball can be fluorescent

Hm. There is further a lower technical document that more precisely defines how the ball must look like. But it seems not set 100% in stone that the Floorball ball must look exactly as it does, beside of the colors as mentioned of above in the main posted rule. It sounds like the certification itself is maybe more crucial as compared to the technical design?
Well, there is a more specific technical document that precisely determines how the ball must look like to be certified:

This is from the Swedish National technical testing institute SP: Let us quote
"2.2.1 Ball Weight 
The ball is to weight 23 ± 1 grams. SP's Certification Rules for IFF-marking of Floorball Equipment – SPCR 011 – January 2010  ©.  15
2.2.2 Ball Dimensions 
The ball is to be designed with dimensions according to appendix 11. 
The dimensions must conform to the standard. 
a) ball diameter 72 ± 1 mm 
b) hole diameter 10 ± 1 mm 
c) the hole's internal placement at joint no requirement 
d) the hole's internal placement over joint c/2 ± 2 mm 
2.2.3 Ball Surface Fineness 
The ball's surface is to be even, negative embossed pattern up to 0.5 mm are allowed, but the surface 
and negative embossed pattern fineness is to be between Ra 1—5 μm. Any protruding unevenness 
over 0.5 mm from the surface of the ball should not be present at the joint.  
2.2.4 Number of Holes 
The ball is to have 26 holes. 
2.2.5 Breaking Stress 
The ball's material is to tolerate a breaking stress of 6.0 N/mm2
 as a minimum, and 1.5 N/mm2
over the joint. 
2.2.6 Rebound 
The ball's rebound is to be 650 ± 50 mm"

So what it is then that make all balls to have no holes that goes across the seem/joint? Well most likely this is a design feature to make the ball as though and sturdy as possible. But why are all holes always designed in a symmetric pattern with 5 main holes on top of the half of the ball and a round ring of the other holes among the seem/joint on each half of the ball? The funny consequence of this is that the ball is symmetric from a few angles but not all and is that the very best possible design?
When will we see asymmetrical holes? Is that better? Different numbers of holes? Holes of different size? Or rules that defines air-resistance or "air-grip"? What about the surface design of the inside of the ball - does it have some important properties?
What control the rules for the best possible Floorball ball? Tradition? Or rather the most important question must be - what is the possibly best ball design available for the very perfect Floorball ball? Is this to still rely on a basic set of rules - based maybe upon an old practice design for baseball balls? May the current rules obstruct new and better development? Or does it not? How does the best ball look like? Does it have 26 holes and is it heavier or lighter as compared to todays balls? Can 26 holes be placed on one side of the ball? Should a ball fly faster, slower or with more curvature? Can this be done better - or maybe the balls we have today are just good enough? And we should just let it be - like it is?
It is no doubt that the stick development has been more pronounced as the ball design over the last decades and it seems like we have more questions than answers here.

Is today's ball the very best possible for Floorball? And who drives this - the rules or the function? What is next?

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Research suggest that eye-injuries are more common in Floorball as compared to Tennis, but less common as compared to Squash (similar to Racquetball).
To minimize this risk of injury Floorballcentral recommend: Use certified protective eye-wear (mandated in many European areas for the youth). Do not lay down on the court. Follow the rules strict on stick height.

Also if you get addicted to this sport - do not blame us!