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Why Do Soccer Balls Lose Air?

Why Do Soccer Balls Lose Air?

Certainly, most soccer fans can’t function properly without soccer. Some fans can even give you ten exceptional reasons why they can’t cope in a world without soccer.

As exciting as soccer is, soccer fans don’t pay much attention to soccer balls as compared to the game even though soccer might not generate much excitement without quality soccer balls.

Many devoted soccer fans can’t effortlessly mention one company that manufactures soccer balls, the material used in their production, how they are manufactured, talk more of how to fix broken soccer balls.

The shape, structure, and design of soccer balls make it possible for soccer to be played virtually anywhere by anybody.

According to Britannica, an average soccer ball should measure between 27 – 27.5 inches (68 – 70 cm) in circumference and weigh 14.5 – 16 ounces (410 – 450 grams).

Soccer balls can be found in the most remote parts of the planet as long as soccer fans are living there. D. Tighe quotes that in 2020, the U.S.A recorded revenues amounting to about 133.4 million dollars from soccer balls sales even though Americans are not too enthusiastic about soccer.

But have you ever wondered why you keep an inflated ball and after a few weeks, it stops feeling turgid as you left it—even when you are sure that it is not punctured.

In this article, we shall take a close look at the world of soccer balls and help you understand why they lose air and slowly deteriorate.

Why do soccer balls lose air?

Soccer balls lose air over days or weeks depending on a number of factors. In modern times soccer balls exist in different varieties depending on their unique purpose and the surfaces they would be played upon.

several different types of soccer pitches

Using a soccer ball meant for one purpose or surface on another can cause it to lose air or deteriorate faster. Below is a list and brief descriptions of types of soccer balls.

  • Matchday Soccer Balls: These balls are of a high-performance range and suitable for diverse playing surfaces. They conform to the official weight, size, and texture regulations, suitable for all age groups. They cost more than ordinary training balls.
  • Professional/Premium Match Soccer Balls: These soccer balls are developed for top professional clubs to enhance player’s abilities and skills. They are FIFA-approved and designed for increased accuracy, speed, and control. They are water-resistant, more durable, and have higher air retention ability. They work perfectly on both natural and artificial surfaces but they are very expensive.
  • Turf Balls: They are specifically designed for use on synthetic grass surfaces. Turf balls are very affordable but damage faster when used on a natural pitch.
  • Recreational/Practice/Training Soccer Balls: These balls are highly durable and tough, designed for prolonged use. They can be used by players on all levels even though they are made of robust materials. They are less expensive than matchday balls.
  • Indoor Soccer Balls: They measure the same size as the outdoor soccer balls but are designed with less bounce and rebound capabilities. This makes them easy to control on indoor arenas and small courts.
  • Promotional Balls: These balls are designed for advertisement purposes mainly to promote big brands, events, and organizations.
  • Futsal Soccer Balls: They are slightly smaller in size from soccer balls and their bladder is filled with foam. This makes them heavier with less bounce but more suitable for hard surfaces.

Although FIFA specified balls are of higher quality and strength compared to other regular balls – they also lose air and deteriorate eventually.

Soccer balls lose pressure as time passes because they are not completely airtight. Over time, air escapes from the valve and inner bladder of balls.

Improper handling of soccer balls like playing them on coarse surfaces can increase air loss and decrease their lifespan. Over inflating the ball above stipulated pressure can also increase air loss.

Let’s take a closer look at these reasons to help you understand better.

The leak from the valve

an ancient soccer ball with a valve

Soccer balls have a valve opening which is the channel through which air is pumped into them. For a soccer ball to function effectively, the right amount of air must be pumped into it.

The position of the soccer valve is usually marked with a tiny black hole on the surface of the ball which is very easy to locate.

Since valves allow air in, they are also capable of allowing air to escape from the soccer ball mostly when much pressure is applied to the ball or during a deliberate deflation.

On closing a soccer ball’s air valve, a hole lies perpendicular to the passageway and its job is to prevent air from entering or exiting the ball.

Valves are manufactured from different materials mostly silicon and butyl. Silicone and butyl valves perform different purposes.

Butyl valves perform better in air retention while silicon valves protect the ball from losing much air during inflation.

There is also a valve called the full port valve which is the most common type. The full port valve doesn’t restrict airflow like others but it allows little friction.

To handle the issue of a broken valve, it is best to change it completely instead of trying to repair it.

Use of a material that is not airtight in making the ball

Our research reveals that the outer surface of a soccer ball is typically made of synthetic leather instead of presumed full-grain leather.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyurethane (PU) are the chemical components of synthetic leather. Balls made from polyurethane are more durable and often used in international soccer tournaments.

Balls made with polyvinyl chloride lose air easily and are sold cheaply in markets and stores. They are mostly used by kids and teenagers for fun and practice.

Soccer balls have four main parts which include lining, stitching, cover, and bladder.

A bladder works exactly like a tire’s inner tube and is usually made from butyl or latex. It is used in keeping air confined inside the ball.

Latex bladders retain air longer than butyl bladders. Soccer balls made from latex require inflation less often than the latter.

Though latex bladders are known to provide better surface tension and contact during gameplay, butyl bladders are more reliable.

Misuse of soccer balls

Most of us aren’t overly carefree, but soccer balls lose air easily in our possession because we don’t know how to take proper care of them.

We have listed below a couple of measures you can take to avoid balls from losing much air and degrading easily.

1. Use soccer balls on surfaces it was meant for

Using soccer balls on unfriendly surfaces is one of the major reasons why soccer balls rapidly lose air. Coarse concrete and asphalt surfaces don’t do soccer balls any good apart from damaging them.

Surfaces like artificial turf and grass are the kind of terrains that help preserve balls from losing air during play. Soccer balls were designed primarily for those kinds of terrains.

a ball is lying on the soccer field

2. Keep soccer balls deflated when not in use

When you intend to take a brief or long break from playing soccer, make sure to deflate your soccer balls before storing them. Leaving balls in a deflated state when not in use helps to preserve their strength.

To easily deflate a ball, all you need to do is to place a needle (preferably the pump needle) into the valve and allow air to leak out.

a soccer ball is deflated on the field

3. Clean soccer balls after every use

It is recommended although not always necessary to clean soccer balls between every use. Cleaning the ball will help reduce deterioration and maintain the surface feel.

After a thorough cleaning with dish soap and lukewarm water, always wipe excess water with a dry towel.

4. Never stand or sit on the ball

a kid soccer player is sitting on the ball

Standing or sitting on inflated soccer balls is very dangerous so you are advised to desist from such acts if you are guilty of them. Sitting on an inflated soccer ball can damage its internal and external structure, making it less durable and effective.

5. Don’t over inflate soccer balls

For optimal ball performance, manufacturers most times indicate on balls how much air they need.

Keenly check for stated pressure levels when next you purchase a soccer ball. According to FIFA’s specifications, a size 5 ball mustn’t exceed 15.6 Pounds Per Square Inch (PSI).

How do you fix a soccer ball that loses air?  

If a soccer ball continuously loses air because of a puncture or natural pressure loss, reinflation isn’t always the solution. Reinflating a punctured soccer ball without finding and mending the hole is an absolute waste of time and energy.

Punctured soccer balls can be fixed using different methods, some methods are similar to fixing a bicycle’s flat tire. Below are a few methods you can use in fixing your balls from losing air.

Cut and Sew Method

In fixing a leaking ball, the first thing you need to do is figure out where the leak is emanating from. Although in severe instances, you may notice air escaping from the valve.

For the cut and sew method, we would need a curved needle, polyester thread, patches, light glue (preferably Bostik), round-tipped scissors, and a small flat screwdriver.

  • Step 1: Using the round-tipped scissors, lift the seam thread from the opposite corner of the inflation valve then carefully cut until the flask is open.
  • Step 2: Be careful not to damage the dowel of the ball and avoid damaging the thread holes for easy resewing.
  • Step 3: Slightly deflate the inner tube.
  • Step 4: Carefully extract the inner tube from the cover.
  • Step 5: Inflate the tube and try locating the leak hole using a bowl of water.
  • Step 6: Scrape the location of the leak hole when found using abrasive paper and apply glue, allow the glue to properly dry for about 12 hours.
  • Step 7: Attach the tube to the balloon coating at the inflation valve.
  • Step 8: Pump the ball and properly position the inner tube to balance inside the ball.
  • Step 9: With a steady hand, carefully strand the seam back together.
  • Step 10: Stitch the ball cover using the curled needle and the dual thread.

The second method we would be considering is the sealant method.

Sealant Method

A sealant can be very effective in cases where your ball has a tiny puncture that you have located. A ball repair sealant can be used to fix the hole in a couple of minutes.

Below are the guiding steps on how to use a sealant.

Step 1: Inflate the ball until it is 75 percent full.

Step 2: Get your ball repair sealant ready by wetting its can’s insertion needle with water.

Step 3: Carefully push the needle down the valve making sure it goes all the way.

Step 4: Spray the repair sealant through the valve for five to six seconds.

Step 5: Fully inflate the ball and bounce it ten times on the floor to evenly disperse the sealant inside the bladder.

Step 6: Allow the ball to relax for about an hour with the location of the leak facing the ground.

Step 7: After an hour, recheck the ball for leaks using a bowl of water.

Do soccer balls deflate over time?

Guess most of us already know before now that soccer balls deflate over time like every other inflated material. What most of us don’t understand is why balls deflate even though they don’t have visible puncture holes on them.

In trying to answer this question, we have to introduce a little bit of science. In science, equilibrium might be the reason why inflated soccer balls deflate over time without exerting physical pressure on them.

Air is made up of oxygen and nitrogen but only the oxygen molecules can diffuse through the bladder and ball cover into the environment because oxygen molecules are very tiny and can pass through permeable rubber.

This happens because the Pounds Per Square Inch (PSI) in the ball is much higher than the air pressure on the surface of the ball. Atoms make up everything in the universe and atoms are always in a constant state of motion.

Does cold air deflate balls?

A drop in temperature automatically triggers a pressure drop. In 2010, the issue of cold air deflating balls was addressed at Sports Science – an ESPN television series exploring sports-related science and engineering.

An experiment was staged by Sports Science using a ball exposed to a temperature of 10 degrees for one hour in a freezer. The pressure of the ball dropped from 13.5 PSI to 11 PSI.

The ball in a freezer experiment proves the theory that cool temperature deflates inflated balls. Thus, there is a connection between temperature and PSI.


Now you know why soccer balls lose air and easy ways to fix your soccer balls when they get punctured. Feel free to reach out to friends and family who still don’t know why soccer balls lose air and also introduce them to other interesting topics on our website.