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Why Do Soccer Balls Have Pentagons? 3 Primary Reasons

Why Do Soccer Balls Have Pentagons? 3 Primary Reasons

Soccer balls are more complex today than they were 50 years ago and also more friendly to soccer players than their predecessors—some of which weren’t even water-resistant.

Previously, leather soccer balls had 18 sections; 6 panels containing three strips respectively held together by stitches.

White soccer balls gained fame in the year 1951 before the 1960s when black and white soccer balls made up of hexagons and pentagons became eminent.

Soccer ball manufacturers after many centuries of designing soccer balls in numerous patterns found out that balls designed with leather pentagon and hexagon patterns create a seamless sphere that retains its form in the soccer field.

This design was nicknamed the “buckyball” by soccer fans and it remains the most popular soccer ball design to date. The buckyball was first used professionally at the 1970 World Cup Finals in Mexico.

Adidas, its initial manufacturer, named it Telstar. The major reason why it has black and white patterns was that its original designers wanted it to be visible to viewers on black and white televisions which was the norm in that era.

The Telstar, a copy of the originally 32-panel design by Denish visionary Eigil Nielsen is made up of 20 regular hexagonal and 12 regular pentagonal panels arranged in a truncated icosahedron.

The 32-panel soccer ball has an optimum roundness which guarantees straight flight and a meticulous bounce rate.

Why do soccer balls have pentagons?

Since soccer became one of the most followed sports in the world, soccer ball manufacturers increased drastically in number, each with their ball patterns and unique designs. This has made it difficult for consumers to easily make choices when buying soccer balls.

Big sports brands like Puma, Nike, and Adidas are all in a tight race to create the perfect soccer ball which will generate more sales than their competitors. The competition wasn’t this tight in the past when soccer balls had only the iconic black and white design.

The white hexagons and black pentagons on the black and white soccer balls are strategically important because they fit together perfectly to form a seamlessly spherical shape.

A soccer player is taking a corner

Most drawings and images associated with soccer balls online are represented in the 32-panel design even though there are many other designs of soccer balls in use.

We will be looking at some of the reasons why soccer balls have pentagons on them.

Easy visibility on black and white TV sets  

For the first three decades of the invention of the television, Cinema maintained the monopoly over moving colored images. Images were either displayed in black and white or orange due to the neon gas in the lamps used in manufacturing the first TV sets.

A black and white TV-The memory of many generations

Black and white images are a bit fuzzy and sometimes difficult to comprehend, unlike colored televisions which display detailed images preventing viewers from straining their eyes.

The first full soccer match that aired live on television was the FA Cup Final between Huddersfield and Preston North End on 30th April 1938 in England.

Before the release of the Telstar soccer balls by Adidas in 1970, soccer match viewers at home usually found it very difficult and demanding to figure out where the soccer ball was at certain intervals during a match because everything was displayed in two basic colors only.

Designers of the Telstar soccer ball solved a major problem that plagued soccer fans for many decades by introducing a ball with black pentagon and white hexagon designs, therefore, making them very visible and easier to follow on dual-colored TV sets.

A soccer ball with some white hexagons and black pentagons on the floor

For optimum roundness and perfect flight  

Before the 32-panel soccer ball was invented by Eigil Nielsen in 1962, it remained impossible to create a perfectly round ball using only 18 panels, which was the specification used in constructing soccer balls earlier.

Before then, the prevailing problem bugging soccer ball designers was how to produce a soccer ball that would be reliable, predictable, and have the perfect bounce rate. The 32-panel soccer ball fuses 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons so well that it creates a perfect spherical shape.

A soccer ball with some orange hexagons and black pentagons

A soccer ball that has an optimum level of roundness is crucial for obtaining a reliable aerodynamic and smooth flight.

Soccer balls can be safely tested for optimal roundness and flight in a research facility using a wind tunnel. A perfectly spherical soccer ball retains a steady speed over a longer period even when it meets resistance at a later point in the air.

Soccer players play better with optimally round soccer balls because they provide stable and more predictable flights during a soccer match. Optimally round soccer balls are easier to control using the foot and hardly deviate from a trajectory.

Last update on 2023-11-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Makes tracking ball movement easier

Since soccer balls can take non-circular shapes while in motion, they need to have a mean color that wouldn’t fade away while the soccer ball accelerates. Black pentagon patterns on the ball make it visible even when the ball is traveling at a very high speed.

a soccer ball is flying in the air

Most sports balls are designed in such a way that they must be trackable by the referee, commentators, players, and coaches to enable them to detect the actual position or direction of the ball at any given time.

Sports balls are usually coated with dark colors to enable them to retain proper visibility like we earlier stated. The more speed an object travels with, the less visible that object becomes; let’s take fan blades, for example, the faster a fan’s blade rotates, the less visible it becomes.

If soccer balls only came in white or other light colors, players would randomly be struck by balls because tracking balls would be very difficult during a match and the goalkeeper likewise will concede a lot of goals especially if the match is played on a sunny day.

WILSON Traditional Soccer Ball - Size 4, Black/White
  • WILSON Traditional Soccer Ball - Size 4, Black/White
  • Synthetic leather cover for increased durability
  • Butyl rubber bladder for excellent air and shape retention

Last update on 2023-11-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Soccer balls have evolved largely since the days of inflated pig’s bladders coated with leather. Although modern-day soccer balls are thermally bonded, the Telstar stitched soccer balls are still in vogue in some parts of the world.

Maybe soccer players and fans alike can’t just get over their unique pentagonal and hexagonal patterned design.