NCAA Football

Wilson builds Omega NCAA Football with a higher spin rate

Wilson builds Omega NCAA Football with a higher spin rate

The spin rate on the new Wilson Omega football, already in use at Auburn University, increases from 3% to 8%. This equates to 40-60 RPM when the quarterback throws, helping the ball travel higher, increase velocity, increase distance and increase accuracy.

It took science.

Studying the properties of various balls throughout Wilson’s line, from the official NFL ball on down, Wilson Labs engineers examined each ball’s moment of inertia and how the weight distributed around the ball relates to its resistance to spin. “When we throw these balls, we see a big difference in spin speed,” says Daniel Hair, research and development manager at Wilson Labs. “Can we use that to build the ball in a new way? That’s how Omega was born.”

To increase spin speed, engineers needed to place more weight near the center of the pivot while reducing weight on the outside, all without changing the specifications required by the game’s controls. To do this for Omega, the team settled on a new formula for a liner that was just as strong, but not as dense, to take the weight from the outside and move it to the middle.

“A good analogy for how you can compare Omega to other things is a figure skater starting to spin,” Herr says. “The figure skater’s weight stays the same, she extends her arms, spins pretty slowly, and when she brings her arms closer to her body, she speeds up—faster, faster, faster—that’s what we did. We took a ball with a bunch of weight on the outside, of normal construction, spinning at a given speed. We took that ball and pulled some of that weight to the middle. It spins faster and faster.”

“It was version after version,” Hare says of the process, “what types of materials do we put in there? Do we put other structures inside the ball to create a stronger cage? Different types of meshes, threads, fabrics?”

Chris Kale, a process engineer at Wilson’s Football Factory in Ada, Ohio, came up with the idea that by welding a flexible, heavy tag to the shaft of the ball, he could distribute the weight just right. “This is the most weight we can carry to feel comfortable,” says Herr, “without compromising the durability or performance of the ball.”

After spending years developing a new formulation for the structure of the ball, Wilson took the opportunity to update many elements to create the new Omega, including fast leather, an updated stitch pattern and metal stamping for better visibility and improved durability. .

Using NCAA schools, including Auburn, to help conduct the test, Haire says players and equipment managers immediately noticed a difference in how soft the ball felt thanks to the modified liner, which increases compliance and flexibility. “There’s a little more in the hands,” he says. “People say that Omega feels less airy just by touching them. You don’t even have to throw the ball to feel the difference, which is great.”

Still at a set pressure of 13 psi, a softer feel is paired with renewed skin. The Omega features the same Horween-made leather used in all NFL balls and the popular Wilson GST ball, but “double-baked”. The fast break-in design includes more wax and stickiness due to additional processing. “The skin is a little darker, and after a quick break, it gets into a play-ready ball a lot quicker,” says Herr. “It feels a lot softer and provides better grip and better ball security overall.”

Although new to the general ball line, this quick-break skin was available on the Wilson custom ball market, already used by most teams in the Canadian Football League.

The Omega stitching builds on the GST Prime design, which added “additional touch points for the defender” via stitching on the upper half of the ball. Omega includes double stitching for a wider platform and a smoother transition.

The metal stamp on the Omega, the same technology used on the NFL Shield game balls, creates a durable option for improved visibility on the Omega’s darker leather.

In blind playtesting, especially in the prototype stage, Haire says the Auburn team gravitated toward the Omega, and the data showed an increase in spin speed and RPM. The quarterbacks didn’t notice a difference in how they threw the ball, although they did notice the ball getting lighter over time. “If they’re used to ditching Omega and going back to the original, that’s a big difference,” he says.

Launched into NCAA specifications on November 17th, Omega technology will soon be available in the Wilson family of soccer balls. “This is the first major step toward doing that,” says Hare. “We’re excited about it, and it’s going to roll out across the market.” He expects to see the Omega version in the GST lineup and potentially push the technology into the professional leagues.

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