How is a Soccer Ball Made?

  • How is the last stitch put in when making a soccer ball? OR
  • How is a soccer ball made?

Soccer is the world’s most popular sport and the soccer ball is the most important piece of equipment used in the game. Although the color and designs on the outside of a soccer ball may be different, the shape, size, and weight of the ball are all defined by international rules. The ball must be spherical and the circumference can be no more than 28 inches (71.1 cm.) and no less than 27 inches (68.6 cm.). The weight of the ball at the start of the game can not be more than 16 ounces (0.448 kg) or less than 14 ounces 0.392 kg). Soccer balls used to be made of leather but now are made of synthetic leather because leather has a tendency to absorb water which causes the ball to become very heavy. Remember, the rule about the weight of the ball.

Here are the parts of the soccer ball.

The covering of the ball is made of a number of panels stitched together. The 32-panel ball is the most common and the type used in most professional matches. It is known as the “Buckminster Ball” or “Buckyball” and consists of 20 hexagonal and 12 pentagonal surfaces…named after the American architect Richard Buckminster Fuller who came up with the design. When sewn together and inflated the ball is a near perfect sphere. The thickness of the covering plays a part in the quality of the soccer ball. The covering is backed with multiple layers of lining of polyester or cotton blend which gives the ball its strength, structure, and bounce. The bladder inside the ball is what holds the air. The bladders are usually made of latex rubber or butyl (rubber-like material). Most balls use valves for air retention.

Here is how a soccer ball is made.

The highest quality soccer balls are stitched with a 5-ply twisted polyester cord and high-end soccer balls are hand-stitched. (Mid-priced balls are machine-stitched and low end balls are glued together). The 32 panels are cut out and pre-punched with holes for stitching. The stitching is done by turning the ball inside out so none of the stitches show on the outside of the ball. The stitcher uses a guide to help in assembling the panels in the proper order. A different type of needle is used to complete the stitching of each panel so the final knot disappears. The finished ball is reversed and the bladder is inserted and inflated to be sure the needle did not puncture the bladder. Then the ball is deflated and packed for shipping.

To learn more about how soccer balls are made and about the history of the soccer ball, check out these links.

Article "Soccer Ball" from How Products Are Made
http://www.madehow.com/Volume-5/Soccer-Ball.html
An article from How Products Are Made (2006) from the Gale Group, Inc., which explains how a soccer ball is made. Offers a couple illustrations.

Soccerballworld.com
http://www.soccerballworld.com
This unique site by Bruce Rigsby is highly informative and interesting for all soccer enthusiasts. It provides loads of information about soccer balls including history, design, construction, types, sizes, approvals, physics, care, latest innovations and more. In particular, you may want to check out the construction and history sections.

This FAQ was created by Karen Emmons for Info 780 Special Topics: Digital Reference, Fall 2007.