Product Review: KAP7 Size #5 Water Polo Ball

Monique Verrier
Water Polo Planet
08/01/11

The Water Polo Planet Product Review Team brings another look into a new product on the market, the KAP7 water polo ball (Size #5).  Monique Verrier, and her club, had the opportunity to give this ball a test drive, and this represents her findings.

IT ALL STARTED…: A couple of months ago, my club joined American Water Polo and, as part of the deal, AWP sent us a brand spanking new ball by KAP7 (Size #5).    We’ve been a Mikasa club for a long time, years upon years in fact, and in that time we had a few other brand balls that were throwbacks from prior experiments in thrift that were crackly and flat but none of those ever made it to the field any more.  The first couple of weeks is like true water polo love when the latest game ball seems almost waterproof and begs to stick to your fingers.  Everyone wants to pass with that ball.  Everyone wants to shoot that ball. 

OUT OF THE BOX: No matter the brand, it’s always kind of exciting when coach inflates a new game ball.  We marveled at the outrageous orange color with stand out stripes and the unusual grip of the KAP7 ball.   The performance and life expectations for the KAP7 ball were no different than anything else that we have tried.  We inspected it with curiosity then tossed it unceremoniously in the ball box and proceeded into our warm up swim without further adieu.   In the water, it was different than the others.  The grip was tacky with a little more give than the Mikasa balls and the odd color made it easily distinguishable from the rest of our equipment.

PERFORMANCE:  That first day started the short journey of a month or so when, inexorably, all new balls  seem to become indistinguishable from the others in the ball bag.   It was thrown in with a dozen other balls for warm up but, as soon as I grasped it in the water, I could tell that it was a radical departure from any other water polo ball I had ever held.  The grip was both springy and tacky.  As a female player on a co-ed team playing with men's size ball, I found my small hands could actually hold the KAP7 ball well enough to allow some range of motion in my wrist.  It opened up new faking and shooting options to me that I had, hitherto for, only jealously watched my teammates execute.  With the better grip, I could use my wrist more to increase the speed of my shot, the effectiveness of my pump fakes, and enhance my ability for standard catching and throwing.  Passing action is pretty much the same as with any other ball, as the ball does not seem to fly any differently.  With it being the same size and weight, it pretty much travels through the air the same way.  Getting through the air, or what it took for me to pass the ball, was a little easier with the added control offered by the grip.  I thought shooting action would be the same, and it is for almost all the shots, however, when it comes to skip shots, this ball is a bit different.  With the deep grooves and slightly softer feel, it skips more easily, however, this comes with a cost.  The deep grooves of the ball offer a different skip dynamic and angle,  so it takes some time and work to be familiar enough with the ball to predict the action.  In terms of the longevity of grip, what we found matched what was promised.  While the KAP7 ball did lose its tackiness after about a month, just like any new ball does, it didn’t lose its grip.  I think that is due to the slight give of the rubber which allows a secure fingertip grasp and a soft touch for good control, all outcomes which were promised by KAP7 representatives.

FROM THE SOURCE:  I spoke to KAP7 representatives of the USA, and according to Brad Schumacher, who developed the ball with his partner Wolf Wigo, the grip of the KAP7 ball is achieved through deep grooves and a lot of buffing.  Their objective was to create a high quality ball with the best grip on the market that would sustain its excellent grip for more than six months.  Additionally, KAP7 offers a wide range of colors for this ball, with some being super bright so it is easy to find the ball with lower light conditions or when there is a lot of glare.  Currently, the KAP7 Size #5 ball, in several specific colors, is approved for NFHS competition.  It is also approved for American Water Polo competition.  KAP7 lists their ball direct at $29.95.

IN CONCLUSION: All and all, KAP7 makes a great ball.  The initial tackiness and enhanced grip the ball offers - especially after the surface tackiness wears away - is a great bonus for this ball both in practice as well as in scrimmage.  It does have its own characteristics when it comes to skip-shots but these can be predicted given a little bit of time and effort in working with the ball.  This ball is extremely suitable for youth and co-ed programs as the grip allows smaller hands to grasp it.  Keep in mind that KAP7 is marketing this as a competition ball, which it is approved for in NFHS and AWP, and is priced accordingly, putting it in the same range as similar marketed products out there.  And with NFHS and AWP, KAP7 has worked their way into the competition arena as an approved competition ball.  It is possible that this ball could make it into the mainstream game of NCAA/USAWP/FINA approval, but not at this time.  That isn’t to say things won’t change in the very near future.  If your program does operate within the realms of NFHS and/or AWP, by all means go for the KAP7 Ball.  Especially at the high school age group, where player size can vary dramatically, the grip on this ball can help the overall quality of the team's ball handling fundamentals.  KAP7 makes a good product, and we on the Water Polo Planet Product Review Team hope that it is only a matter of time before KAP7 becomes a regulation ball for ALL levels of water polo action.

Edited by “Coach Dave” Maynard