Soccer Balls

Everything you wanted to know about soccer balls

Soccer balls have come a long way from being actual pig bladders in the 1800’s to lightweight waterproof balls that are seen today.

Soccer ball, world map

Many people still wonder as to what really is inside the soccer ball.

Let's uncover this secret and unearth the mystery of the soccer ball.

As well as sizing, there are four main components that make a football.

They are —

Cover : Stitching : Lining : Bladder

1. Size of Soccer Balls:

A standard sized 5 soccer ball’s circumference is 68–71 cm (27”–28”) and weighs 400–453 g (14–16 oz). It is inflated to a pressure of 600-1, 100 gm/cm2 (8.5-15.6 pounds per square inch).

Smaller balls are used for younger players and training, such as:

  • Soccer ball size 4 for 8 to 12 year old players, has a circumference of 66 cm (26”) and weighs around 370 g (13 oz).
  • Soccer ball size 3 for kids under 8 years, has a circumference of (61 cm (24”) and weighs around 340 g (12 oz).
  • Soccer ball size 2 is sometimes used for fun games of soccer for pre-schoolers and the very early club years. It is also useful for drills and skills practice for all kids. It is 56 cm (22 in) round and lightweight at around 280 g (10 oz).
  • There is a small size 1 soccer ball, but it is only for advertising and giveaway promotions.

2. Cover of Soccer Balls:

Earlier soccer balls were made with full grain leather which made the balls heavier. Soccer ball, retro leather with stitching However, today all soccer balls are made with synthetic leather that makes them light. The earlier balls got even heavier as they absorbed water, however, synthetic leather balls are waterproof and are typically made with either PU (polyurethane) or PVC (poly vinyl chloride) or both.

For indoor soccer the balls are made with felt material. This is similar to what tennis balls are made of.

The cover is made of a set of panels, and these panels differ depending on the design.

The most common set of panels is the 32-panel ball. This is the black and white patch ball that we’ve most commonly seen for the last two decades and is still in use in many places.

However, with advances in technology the new soccer balls like the one that was used for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, have fewer panels. This enhances the player’s performance as it means that the ball can curve more when kicked in the right manner.

Other panel designs include 18 and 26 panel designs that were used for Major League Soccer and other professional soccer leagues until 2002.

3. Stitching of Soccer Balls:

A soccer ball is held together by 642 stitches. Today, all the high quality soccer balls use polyester or a similar thread material to stitch the panels together. These balls can either be stitched manually or by machines.

Hand stitched soccer balls are of a better quality and cost more than the machine stitched soccer balls.

Another method used is to glue the panels together; these are of the lowest quality and are only used for practicing.

The recent FIFA World Cup 2006 official ball was not stitched by any of the methods mentioned above. These latest design balls were thermally molded and are of the finest quality soccer balls in the market today.

4. Soccer Ball Lining:

Ever wondered how the soccer ball manages to maintain its shape after being kicked around so much? Well, all credit goes to the lining which helps in retaining the balls spherical shape. Between the cover and the bladder a multi-layered lining is placed.

These linings can be of a variety of materials depending on the quality of the ball. Commonly used materials are polyester or/and cotton. However, the finest quality soccer balls today use foam as lining and it also cushions the ball for better control.

5. Bladder of Soccer Ball:

This is the heart of the soccer ball. The bladder holds all the air and is commonly made with butyl or latex.

Butyl bladders are more commonly seen in high quality soccer balls as they retain air and provide a better feel.

Soccer ball, World map

HOME page: Soccer Playing Guide

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