Wilson Innovation Keeps All Eyes on the Ball
WilsonLABS collaborated with AVP pros to create Wilson’s newest beach volleyball, the OPTX AVP. Here’s why this is a big deal.
Every sport presents specific challenges, and Wilson’s goal as a sports equipment manufacturer and innovator is to identify and address them. From finding and expanding tennis racket sweet spots to measuring velocity and spin on a football throw, everything we do seeks to improve the games and assist the athletes playing them.
For over 20 years, Wilson has researched and innovated state-of-the-art game volleyballs with the athlete as the main priority. The OPTX AVP beach volleyball is the newest ball to address the specific needs of beach players: touch, durability, and visibility.
Beach Volleyball is a Big Deal
Professional beach volleyball players make the sport look fun: running and diving on the sand in the sun and getting a great workout while doing it. But the reality is that it is a strenuous and demanding sport that requires immense skill and athleticism. The ball is the key element that can make or break how an athlete performs on the sand, whether they are serving, setting, or digging.
Not long after the establishment of the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP), Wilson began sponsoring the organization and providing the official game balls for their annual tournaments. In 2016, WilsonLABS designed a breakthrough ball for these players that featured hand construction, 18 panels of a new microfiber composite leather cover, and a new rubber bladder for increased rebound and air retention. They also designed the ball’s exterior for increased visibility.
Improving the Game
This ball served the AVP well, but as the game progresses, the ball must, too. WilsonLABS, in our search for continuous improvement, began working with our 8-member advisory staff to devise an even better professional tournament ball. We decided to concentrate on overcoming the most significant variable of playing volleyball on a beach: visibility.
Beach volleyball players play in the bright sun, with sunglasses, on light sand next to a million different colors in the crowd, and on advertising boards. We figured out that it’s not enough to just make these balls visible, and decided that the ball’s design and color scheme might be able to change the sport for the better. With enough research and testing, we could create a whole new experience for these players. So, in 2019, we introduced the new OPTX AVP ball.
Wilson LABS’ Spin Doctors
Professional volleyball players have to track a fast-moving ball in the bright sun. Wilson concentrated on the human eye’s capabilities to reimagine this new ball. Using player insights, our engineers focused on color variance, pattern design, and the visibility spectrum. Here’s how they work:
Gone are the two-color graphics of the previous balls. This ball features four colors in the red to yellow spectrum, plus black to give the players better spin visibility. We even patented it as Visual Spin Technology or VST™.
Our engineers tested and analyzed a variety of patterns and graphic combinations that revealed how the human eye can better detect spin of a volleyball. They then used this data to optimize spin visibility in several environments and orientations to optimize the ball’s design.
This final, but equally important, characteristic is the colors themselves. A variety wasn’t enough—we chose colors that would stand out against sand, sky, water, and crowds to ensure that players could read spin and track the ball efficiently.
Combining these areas gives beach volleyball players an extra edge so that they can concentrate on the game more and worry about the ball less. The result is a cutting-edge ball suitable for the most competitive players. Here’s a video showing how the OPTX AVP’s patterns and colors work together to help players read the game more accurately.
Here are a few rave reviews from professional beach volleyball players who swear by Wilson’s AVP balls:
“With Wilson, you can always trust that it will be true to touch. Other balls on the market react differently in various situations, whereas the Wilson ball is always consistent. This ball allows us to focus more on competing without worrying about the ball.” – Irene Pollock
“I play Wilson because I can control it better than any other ball. This control gives players the ability to play creatively. This extra touch on the ball enhances our ability to use the entire court, which makes for some amazing rallies.“ – Stafford Slick
“The Wilson is the best ball in all of beach volleyball. From the touch and ability to carve the ball to the overall feel and durability, it has been my favorite ball to play with for over 15 years.” – Casey Patterson
“From beginners to professionals, the Wilson ball is the gold standard for beach volleyball. This ball allows players to carve it, get a good grip on a hand set, has the right feel to get a good bounce on it.” – Tri Bourne
“You can trust that the ball is going to move in the wind, move off of a serve and a hit how exactly should whereas other game balls don’t allow that. It allows us to really focus on our technique and home in on our skills we practice every day.” – Kelly Reeves
Wilson strives to innovate sports equipment ranging from golf clubs to baseball gloves to volleyballs. Our goal is to create the best experience in the world for all players to enjoy. Follow us on Instagram @wilsonvolleyball to see more beach volleyball players and content.