Soccer Ball Construction
Soccer Ball Construction
This is how the ball is made and it can obviously effect the outcome of the ball depending upon methods and Quality and Quantity of materials used.
Manufacturing the ball consists of 4 main elements and starting from the middle of the ball they are:
Bladders - This is the middle of the ball and its prime job is to hold air, retain air and keep its shape. I have gone into detail about Bladders on Page 2, but basically there are 2 types of bladders, Butyl and Latex. Latex is high performance but won't retain air for long and they are used in high performance match balls. Buytl Bladders are tough and strong and built to last but less responsive. The best result is to use the high quality Latex Bladder with Butyl valve so it retains the air better.
Lining - Now between the Bladder and the Cover is the lining of the Ball. The lining varies depending upon the quality of the ball.
Premium Match Balls - At least 4 layers of both Polyester for responsiveness and Foam for cushioning.
Standard Training Balls - It is common to see 2 layers of Cotton and 2 layers of Polyester.
Low quality training balls and Promo Balls - These will have 2 layers of lining or ply made up of Polyester which will give the ball its hardness and excessive responsiveness but obviously not the soft feel you would get from a 4 or more ply ball.
If the club are spending some decent money on balls then make sure your balls have at least 4 layers.
Cover - Again we have gone into more detail on Page 1 about the various options available for the cover of the balls. PU Covers are definitely the best option and although there are many good PU I would stick to Korean Ducksung, Japanese or Cordley. I would also look for the balls to have a bit of a shine to them as this means the have been treated to prevent water and scuff marks.
Stitching - This area has come along way from the normal hand stitched or machine stitched options. There are now Glued Seams and Thermal Bonded panels as well.
Glued Seams - Found on Low Quality Balls where there is low number of seams and performance isn't a priority e.g. Rubber or Plastic Balls use Glued Seams
Machine Stitched - A quick, easy and cheaper solution for mass produced balls. A good alternative to Hand Stitched but a common problem with these balls is that they split at the seams which misshapes the ball and can sometimes see the bladder poking through.
Hand Stitched - Found in the highest quality balls and ball far the best stitching method. Time consuming, more expensive but you get a better result. Hand Stitch balls are generally stronger and last longer. A good manufacturer will use 5 ply Polyester or similar to stitch the balls together.
Thermal Bonded - This is now the new technology that the big Soccer Ball Brands are taking advantage of. This process gets rid of stitching all together making the ball look seamless. The idea behind this is that it reduces drag through the air requiring less energy to kick a ball further. An added advantage is that the thermal bonded panels have now made soccers as close to waterproof as they have ever been. They perform well but normally at a cost of between $50 and $150.
The Soccer Ball Guru