Relationships between football properties and player perceptions
This thesis details the investigation of relationships between football players’ perceptions and the properties of footballs. Through continuous investment in the sport, a highly competitive market for footballs has emerged. In order to improve performance characteristics and differentiate from competitors, there have been radical changes to the materials and constructions used in footballs in recent years, resulting in players commenting on football behaviour in scientific studies and the media alike. Whilst it is evident that players regularly perceive differences between footballs, it is unknown what ball properties relate to different perceptions.
To explore the vast landscape between consumer and product, a theoretical framework was used facilitating a structured approach to research. After reviewing product development frameworks, a novel human-product interaction framework incorporating perception was developed. The framework headings were populated for players’ perceptions of weight and hardness, both of which are more commonly reported in literature.
A series of experiments was carried out evaluating the relationships between players’ perceptions of weight and hardness, and football properties. Players’ perceivable difference thresholds in respect to ball properties were first investigated, prior to evaluating the contribution of multiple ball properties towards perceived weight and hardness for several match relevant player-ball interactions. Multiple linear regression models were derived, suggesting the influence of several ball properties towards players’ perceptions. The regression models were then evaluated through prediction of weight and hardness of a second set of footballs differing in construction and materials. Universal equations for weight and hardness were developed through an optimisation exercise, with the aim of facilitating improved development of future football products. A combination of mass and stiffness metrics corresponded well to perceived weight, whilst several measures of stiffness corresponded well to perceived hardness. A final experiment was performed investigating the contribution of the human senses towards human perception of weight for two separate ball sets, demonstrating a means for designers to better understand how the consumer formulates a perception of a footballs.
- Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering