There are two distinctly different types of tripod head, with some unique variations to support alterative needs within the photographic community.
Ball heads offer high speed and manoeuvrability, ideal for photographers shooting portraits, sport, or wildlife. However they can however be a bit haphazard if you are after precise movements for macro or landscape photography.
To support these applications the conventional three-way head is the preferred choice, restricting movements to one plane at a time.
Finally if your photography is highly varied and you cover multiple genres manufacturers offer heads with pistol type mechanisms these offer improved control over the ball head whilst maintaining the desirable speed and manoeuvrability.