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Soccer Balls Explained – How Things Have Changed

Soccer balls have changed. Depending on how deep we dig, the changes can be quite remarkable. Would you want to be kicking around an inflated pig’s bladder? It wasn’t circular and the bounces were sometimes ridiculous.

When soccer started, that is what you would have had to play with. Then came the 1800’s when Charles Goodyear and vulcanized rubber came along. He created the first rubber soccer ball.

More Change!

  • It began in the late 1800’s when the first ball with an inflatable bladder was created. However, the ball was oval and more like a rugby ball. Unpredictable. Then the English football Association decided that the best soccer balls should be round to allow more predictable bounces.
  • The rules also said that the ball had to be round with an outer casing of leather or other approved materials. It should be no more than 28 inches, and no less than 27 inches in diameter.
  • The ball weight was also an issue. We are still a long way from waterproofing. At the beginning of the game the ball must be more than 14 ounces, but less than 16 ounces.

As of 2001 “The Laws of the Game” state exactly that. The major change has been what materials are used, and the panel shape.

Don’t Blow Your Inner Tube!

  • During the 1900’s inner tubes were in the middle of the ball. This inner tube was covered with a heavy brown leather. The result was a ball that bounced even better than previous balls and could stand up to the kicking that it received.
  • It was definitely better for kicking, but what about heading the ball? The leather soaked up a lot of water. This made the ball weigh more. That resulted in more head injuries.
  • As with any product’s development, the soccer ball went through many changes. Changing the leather used, and adding another inside layer helped decrease the water absorbed and helped it to maintain its shape.
  • How would you like to be watching a game with a brown ball on green grass? That is how it was until the early 1950’s. A white soccer ball was introduced so fans could follow the game better.

Fake Leather!

  • By the 1960’s a synthetic leather ball was developed. It did not get approved immediately by all in soccer because it was believed that real leather still had the better bounce and flight.
  • As the 1980’s came it brought the replacement of leather balls with synthetic leather balls. These balls did what real leather could but absorbed less water. But they acted just like leather.

Continued Change!

  • Soccer ball design has not slowed down. High tech materials and new designs continue to come from many companies. The object is:
  • Water proof.
  • Accurate in flight.
  • Soft feel.
  • Flies easily through the air.
  • Transfers the force of your kick.
  • Safe to head.

Adidas soccer ball development leads the world, but Nike, and Puma are doing their part as well.

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