How Soccer Balls Are Made
As you watch your favorite soccer players on the field, you may wonder how soccer balls are made. The materials and design of soccer balls can change based on their intended use. While a soccer ball for use in a professional match will be made to a different standard than a ball made for recreational or training use, the basic construction of soccer balls remains the same.
Soccer balls are made with three main parts: an inner bladder, layers of lining, and an outer cover. The bladder is the innermost layer, and is the part of the soccer ball that holds the air. It can be made from different materials, but the most common are natural latex or butyl rubber and each has its pros and cons. While latex is the most responsive and bounces best, it doesn't hold air well since it has tiny pores which the air leaks from. Balls with a latex bladder will need frequent refilling. Butyl rubber, on the other hand holds air well without leaking, and is the most frequent choice for midrange price soccer balls.
Outside of the bladder, you'll find several layers of lining made of polyester or cotton material. These layers function as a padding that gives the ball more strength and helps it retain its shape. High end, professional soccer balls often have four or more layers of lining.
Finally, we come to the outer cover of the soccer ball. The covers were originally made from leather, which would often absorb moisture, causing the ball to become too heavy. Instead, today's modern soccer balls use a synthetic leather to avoid this problem. Typically, the cover will consist of 32 panels (twenty six-sided and twelve five-sided). In professional, high-end soccer balls, the panels are sewn together by hand but balls for recreational use are often machine sewn or glued together.
The different materials and techniques used in making a soccer ball all affect the way it bounces and curves in play. There are strict regulations that determine how soccer balls are made for professional tournaments. If you're choosing a soccer ball for yourself, keep these different materials in mind to help you choose the best ball for your tastes.