A goal that we always have at Senda, is to offer products that are as good as any other similar options in the market, with the added value of Fair Trade, and the opportunity for customers to Share the Game with others.
In order to ensure that, we work with hundreds of coaches and players to test our products, and get feedback. Recently, we had the great opportunity to do product testing with Sam Cronin, who is the starting Center Midfielder for the San Jose Earthquakes, as well as Quakes trialist Josh Suggs, and former CAL Captain Tony Salciccia. During a beautiful South Bay afternoon we tested our top of the line Senda Volta, along with the Nike Seitiro, and the Adidas Prime Match balls. Our goal was to check where our Volta Premier Match ball stands , compared to the two most popular brands with the best leagues in the World.
For testing, we looked at 3 main indicators: performance during crossings, performance during shots, and finally overall touch and feel of the ball.
Test 1: Crossings
When making a series of long distance crosses for Sam, Josh and Tony enjoyed the responsiveness and precision of the Volta, which surpassed that of the Adidas Prime, and matched that of the Nike Seitero. In terms of long crossings, the Volta flies well in the air and it does not “shake,” like the Adidas ball does.
The Adidas Prime uses the same thermo-bonded technology as the Jabulani (official match ball for 2010 South Africa World Cup) which was a nightmare for most goalies because it moves a lot when it flies long distances, for examples in in crosses and free kicks. The Prime improved in this aspect, but it still curves in rather unpredictable ways, unlike the Volta and Seitiro models.
Test 2: Shots
When it comes to striking the ball, the Volta felt a little bit harder than the Seitiro and Prime. Players said that this did not mean that it was more difficult or uncomfortable, just a ball characteristic that you notice after using all three balls. The harder outer surface can benefit players with strong shots when they strike the ball, offering more immediate power. Some players who don’t like harder balls might not like this aspect, and this comes down to personal preference.
The Adidas Prime is the ball that travels the most out of the three, but it can be quiet inaccurate because it gets more power only if a player strikes the ball “just right.” That it is not always easy after winning a 50/50 ball, hitting a ball at high speed, or in other game scenarios, and players preferred a ball that offered consistency in different scenarios, and not just clean shots.
Test 3: Touch
In terms of touch the Senda Volta is little bit harder than the Seitero and Prime, both which have a “spongy” feeling. The top-of-the-line Japanese synthetic leather used in the Volta resembles more the older Match balls used in the late 90′s, compared to the newer synthetic materials developed by Nike and Adidas.
“With a lot of balls, it takes a long time to get used to them,” Suggs commented. “With the Volta one gets to know the ball rather fast, and it provides a consistent response in different game-like scenarios”
Although it was the first time that all 3 players where introduced to the Volta, they did not feel any inconsistencias with the ball, and they felt that it was up there with the Nike Seitero, and above the Adidas Prime when it came to overall touch, shooting, and making/receiving crosses.
From our end, after talking with Sam, Tony and Josh, and asking for their honest feedback, we feel that we have succeeded in making a top of the line ball that’s as good, if not better, than that of the two market leaders in soccer. That makes us proud. Very proud!
Meanwhile, we will continue to research the latest cover materials available for different types of match balls, to make sure that Senda is taking advantage of the latest technologies available to make the best performing product.
But whatever new materials are developed using technology, they have to be tested and approved on the field, where the magic happens. Technology, for technology’s sake is not the answer. The final word should come from players and coaches on the fields, and not just from the labs. Right now, it seems like we are in good hands with a Volta Match ball, that has some of the traditional characteristics one finds in Japanese cordley leather, which is one of the best on the World.
The story to make the best posible Match ball leveraging technology and embracing Fair Trade continues, and we will keep you posted!