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Soccer Soccer Ball Information

Soccer Ball Testing and Approvals

“There can be no game of football without a ball and the better the ball, the better the game.”

Video:

Teamgeist Roundness Circum Soccer Ball Testing and Approvals

Many soccer balls have various organization “approvals” imprinted on them.  Such as the FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) These approvals assure that the ball will perform according to the organizations’ specifications. The testing procedures and designations offer many benefits to those who buy soccer balls (footballs) including guaranteed quality, value for money and better playing performance.

In the past, many balls made by different manufactures varied in quality when used in matches. Now soccer balls with the organization’s official approval logo imprinted on them, adhere to a higher standard of quality and are more consistent in how they perform during matches.

Manufacturer’s usually pay a licensing fee to use the official “approval” logos on the balls. Each licensed manufacturer or brand name can state in their marketing campaigns that the balls are approved for use in matches sanctioned by the approval organization. The FIFA approval mark assures that the balls have been tested for proper ball trajectory, shape, balance, bounce, water absorption and velocity at a independent laboratory. Only the pressure of the ball need to be checked by the referee. The referee can be assured that the ball meets the size and weight requirements stated in the organization’s soccer rules or laws. For more information on the soccer ball laws or rules, click here.  

For additional information on the FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) approval requirements including ball testing specifications, click here

For additional information on the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) authentication mark including ball testing requirements,  click here

1 FIFA Magazine, Footballs, more than just stitched leather – FIFA – The Mark of Quality 28-Feb-1998

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Soccer Soccer Ball Information

Soccer Ball Design

red and white soccer ball Soccer Ball Design

Soccer balls vary in design and construction. In this section of Soccer Ball World, the construction and design of the soccer ball is described.  This includes the various materials used, types, sizes and weights of soccer balls. The following topics are reviewed:

  • Construction of the Ball – The various parts of the soccer ball are explained. Typical materials used on the different parts of a soccer ball and how they are put together are also detailed. 
  • Types – The different types of soccer balls are detailed. Use this section to also learn about the typical materials that are used on the different types of soccer balls. This will help you determine what soccer ball is best for your application and skill level.  
  • Sizes and Weights – The various sizes of the soccer ball are shown and explained.  Different age groups use different ball sizes and weights. Determine what size of ball is right for your game or buying needs.

Find out about the latest designs and top balls from various brand names in the Developments section.


Ball Construction

The four main components of a soccer ball are the cover, the stitching, the lining and the bladder.  Understanding these components and their options will help you in choosing the perfect ball to meet your playing and quality needs.

Construction Ball Soccer Ball Design
Roteiro Tech Drawing Soccer Ball Design

For information on how the ball is put together, click here.Elements of Soccer Balls and Materials used in Production

  • Surface, Casing or Cover 
  • Stitching
  • Internal Linings (Polyester or Cotton)
  • Bladder (Latex or Butyl)

Covers

The surface of soccer balls or coverings are made up from synthetic leather and not full grain leather (as used in the past) because leather has a tendency to absorb water causing the ball to become very heavy. Synthetic leather is typically made from PU (polyurethane)
and PVC (poly vinyl chloride). 
There are many variations of synthetic leather used in the construction of soccer balls. They range from AI-2000, Japanese Teijin Cordley, Microfiber, English Porvair, Korean Ducksung, Leather Art Pakistan Synthetic Leather, and PVC (poly vinyl chloride). Best soccer balls used in competition and by professionals are produced by using AI-2000, Cordley, Ducksung, Mircofiber or other types of PU synthetic leather. Promotional soccer balls or practice balls are usually constructed with Polyvinyl Chloride(PVC) or rubber (molded or stitched) covers. 

Some indoor soccer ball covers are made with a felt material similar to what is used on a tennis ball.

Panels

  • The number of panels — the different segments that make up the outside covering of the ball — varies for each design.
  • A 32-panel ball is the most common and is the type used in most professional matches. The soccer ball  is essentially a Buckminster Ball consisting of 20 hexagonal (six sided) and 12 pentagonal (five sided) surfaces. Also known as a truncated icosahedron except that it is more spherical, because the panels bulge due to the pressure of the air inside.
Trunc Icosa Soccer Ball Design

When they are sewn together and inflated they make a near perfect sphere. For more information on the Buckminster ball and the history of the soccer ball, click here.

  • Other traditional designs are 18 and 26-panel constructions, used in various professional leagues, including Major League Soccer (until 2002), Scottish and English leagues. 
  • Fewer panels generally means the ball can be curved more when kicked because of less stability to the cover. For more information on how a soccer ball curves when kicked, click Here

Panels can be either stitched, glued or thermally molded together:

  • Stitched
    • The highest quality balls are stitched with a polyester or similar thread. 5-ply twisted polyester cord is the material of choice in stitching together a soccer ball. Hand sewn balls have tighter and stronger seams. Kevlar® reinforced polyester stitching is also used on some balls. 
    • High-end balls are hand-stitched, while most mid-priced balls are machine-stitched.
  • Glued
    • Lower-end, practice balls generally have the panels glued together onto the lining.
    • These offer a harder feel and are generally less expensive than stitched balls.
  • Thermally Molded – The new World Cup 2010 Jabulani Ball and the Roteiro ball have panels that are thermally molded together. 

The last stitch

Many enquiries have been made about how the last stitch is made. Check out the following video:

Linings

Material thickness plays a vital part in the quality of hand-sewn soccer balls. Multiple layers of lining are placed between the cover and the bladder. These layers are composed of polyester and/or cotton bonded (laminated) together to give the ball strength, structure and bounce. Professional soccer balls usually have four or more layers of lining. Promotional or practice balls are often constructed with less layers of lining. The lining helps the ball retain it’s shape and bounce over the life of the ball.

Many soccer balls include a foam layer for added cushioning and ball control.

Bladders

The bladder in a soccer ball holds the air. Bladders are usually made from latex or butyl. Compared to latex bladders, butyl bladders retain air for longer periods of time. Latex bladders tend to provide better surface tension. However; butyl bladders offer the excellent combination of contact quality and air retention. Futsal ball bladders are filled with foam to limit the bouncing capability of the ball since they are used on a hard flooring.

Most balls use butyl valves for air retention, with higher end balls using a silicone-treated valve for superior performance.  Silicone treated valves are used on some balls for smooth insertion of the inflating needle and added protection from air loss. When you first receive a ball, a good idea is to put a few drops of silicon oil in the valve.  This will provide easier needle insertion and better air retention.

Natural Latex Rubber bladders offer the softest feel and response, but do not provide the best air retention. Micro pores slowly let air escape. Balls with natural rubber bladders need to be re-inflated (at least once a week) more often than balls with butyl bladders (stay properly inflated for weeks at a time). Some balls use carbon-latex bladders in which the carbon powder helps to close many of the micro pores. Latex bladders are used in balls because of the following characteristics:

A- It gives proper bounce.
B- It feels softer.
C- Same angle re-bounce characteristics.

Butyl bladders offer an excellent combination of feel and air retention and can be found in most middle to upper priced balls.

PU – Some manufacturers use bladders made from polyurethane.

How Most Hand Stitched Soccer Ball Parts are Put Together

Inside of Ball Soccer Ball Design

The first stage is to roll out the material to be used for the outing casing of the ball. The casing is usually made from several layers of synthetic foam-filled leaves (panels), which are glued (laminated) together to produce a tough, smooth exterior.

The leaves are cut into the exact amount needed to make one ball. Then the panels are pre-printed with any brand names and graphics before being cut. All logos would be printed at this point in the process. Printing is typically accomplished by silk-screening onto the cover material. After printing, the material may have another layer of clear urethane (or another proprietary material) applied over the printing for protection.

The number of individual panels required are then cut out, and holes are pre-punched in preparation for stitching. The stitching is performed by turning the ball inside out, so none of the stitches show on the outside. A different type of needle is used to complete the stitching of each panel, which effectively makes the final knot ‘disappear’.

The stitched ball is then reversed, the bladder inserted and inflated. One stitcher can usually do four balls in one day. 

Check out how the 2010 Official World Cup Jabulani ball is produced.   

Then another process begins for those soccer balls seeking either NFHS Authentication, FIFA Approved, FIFA Inspected or International Matchball Standard (IMS) status. That process is the independent laboratory testing required to achieve one of these hallmarks. For a more detailed look at the approval types and testing procedures, click here.

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Soccer Soccer Ball Information

Soccer Ball Care

soccer ball puppy Soccer Ball Care

“Love your ball, be the ball, sleep with the ball.”  

quoted from one of my crazy soccer coaches

As with any product that you buy, taking good care of your soccer ball will prolong it’s life. 

There is nothing complicated about taking care of a soccer ball. Just use common sense. 

Do not stand or sit on your soccer balls. Do not kick your good match soccer balls excessively hard against a wall. They can become warped and your ball will wobble when kicked.

Buy a good quality ball using Soccer Ball World as your buying guide and take good care of it. Your soccer balls will then have a long life. 


Cleaning

Remove excessive dirt from the ball after use.  Use a damp cloth to wipe the ball clean.  If needed, use some mild soap or some type of synthetic leather cleaner to remove excessive dirt or stains from the ball.  Be careful when using detergents to clean the ball. Never use harsh detergents. Outer coverings and stitching on some balls may be adversely affected by concentrated cleaners. 

Reframe from excessively spraying soccer balls with high pressure water spay.  Water may penetrate into the ball. 

Do not play with a wet ball during freezing temperatures. The water on the ball could freeze and cause injuries.


Playing Surface

Play on turf, grass or smooth surfaces . Rough surfaces such as gravel, asphalt or concrete can be very abusive to a typical soccer ball. Premature excessive wear and cuts on the outer cover will occur due to abrasion when the ball bounces or skips across rough surfaces. 


Use Proper Air Pressure

Do not over or under pressurize a ball. Use the manufactures recommended air pressure that is printed on most balls. Most soccer balls have a pressure rating of 6 to 8 lbs. or 0.6 or 0.8 BAR. It is recommended that you use a pressure gauge to measure the exact amount of pressure in a ball after inflating and before use. 

BAR or PSI or LBS?

Some soccer balls have recommended pressure values indicated in BAR while others have the values indicated in PSI or LBS.  To convert the pressure values, use the following formulas:

To convert BAR (KGS) to PSI (Lbs.):

Answer = 14.5037 X The amount of BAR(KGS)

For example: A soccer ball has a recommended pressure of 0.6 BAR labeled on it.  To convert BAR in Pounds Per Square Inch (PSI), multiply 0.6 times 14.5037. The answer is 8.7 PSI or Lbs.

To convert PSI (Lbs.) to BAR(KGS):

Answer = .068948 X The amount of PSI(Lbs.)

For example: A soccer ball has a recommended pressure of 7.9 Lbs. (PSI) labeled on it.  To convert Pounds Per Square Inch (PSI) into BAR, multiply 7.9 times .068948. The answer is 0.545 BAR.

Inflating a Soccer Ball 

Soccer balls lose air pressure over time. Sometimes over a few days (soccer balls that use butyl bladders keep air pressure longer than balls that use latex bladders). Be sure to check the pressure frequently to make sure the ball is properly inflated.  Therefore, invest in a good ball pump, have a supply of inflation needles and use a low pressure gauge to measure for proper inflation. 

Before you first inflate a soccer ball, place a couple drops of silicone oil or silicone lubricant spray or glycerin oil into the valve. You can purchase one of the oils or spray at your local hardware store. Using one of the lubricants will improve the life of the valve and lubricate the valve for easy insertion of the inflation needle.  

Always moisten the inflation needle before you insert it into the valve. Preferably, use some silicon oil to moisten the needle.  However; some people use spit…yuk, but that is not recommended. 

Manufacturers recommend that you reduce the air pressure in your match balls after a game to reduce the amount of stress on the ball seams or stitching.  Be sure to inflate the ball back to proper pressure before the match.