5 Secrets to Buying a Soccer Ball....
You have played Soccer for Years but do you really know the difference between a Good and a Bad Soccer Ball before you've even Kicked it?
There are 5 things that you should look for in every soccer ball you buy....
1. Hand Stitched Balls
The way the seams of a Soccer Ball is put together will affect Performance, Quality, Time to be made and Price.
When you are buying a soccer ball you need to find soccer balls that are hand stitched by a skilled worker. Not only do you get the higher quality and greater attention to detail that is associated with hand made items, but they also hide the stitching inside the ball. This protects the stitching from exterior impact and dramatically increases the life of the soccer ball preventing broken stitching, torn seams and bulging bladders.
The other options are Machine stitched and Thermal Bonded/Glued Seams.
Machine Stitched Balls are a cheap alternative and you get exactly what you pay for. These types of balls are mass produced quickly for maximum profit but the quality is low. The machines that stitch the balls can only stitch the outside of the ball leaving it exposed to every impact and it is common that with regular use, machine stitched balls will burst within 3-6 months.
Thermal Bonded/Glue seamed Balls are another alternative and are mostly a high quality ball. This newer technology has been adopted by FIFA and have been used in world cups since 1998. Due to the mould and casting process these balls have to go through, these balls are costly and are only normally seen as high end match balls. If you see a low end or training Thermal Bonded Ball, stay away as they haven't gone through the proper production process and the glue will gradually seperate from the seams.
With its shallow grooves in between the seams, the consistant performance of this type of ball has been in question with most noticeably the World Cup Brazuca Ball underperforming on the big stage.
Image: On the left is a machine stitched ball where you can see the stitching between the panels. On the right is the hand stitched balls where the stitching has been covered.
2. Origin of Ball
Another Important Secret of Soccer Ball buying is to look for the Origin of the ball or where it was made. This may surprise you but what you want to find is that your ball was made in Pakistan.
One of the poorest countries in the world is actually the leading experts in the field of soccer balls. You will find that alot of the big brands like Adidas, Nike, Puma etc have their balls made in Pakistan and this even includes the World Cup Balls.
In fact 40% of the World's Soccer Balls are manufactured in one city in Pakistan called Sialkot. That is around 60 million balls coming out of one city in Pakistan alone.
China are more efficient at producing balls because they are using machines but then you get the poor stitching quality so I would avoid China made balls at all costs.
Image: Here is what you should expect to see around the valve of most reputable soccer balls. Note the Made in Pakistan at the bottom.
3. 4 PLY
What is Ply in Soccer Balls? Ply is the layer or layers that go in between the bladder and the casing/cover of the ball to give the ball strength, structure, weight and shape.
For a Soccer Ball to perform well and last a long time it needs no less then 4 PLY made up of either Polyester,Cotton or Foam or a combination of them.
3 Ply is passable for junior training balls but anything less than this and the ball will feel light even when pumped up and it will not retain is round shape.
2 Ply is often used for promo balls but these should not be used as training balls.
Image: Above is the cross section of a Soccer Ball Panel and you might be able to make out the different levels of Ply glued to the casing of the ball.
4. Latex Bladder with Butyl Valve
There are 2 types of Bladders. Latex and Butyl.
The Butyl Bladder has high retention of air and very durable but isn;t a very good performer.
The Latex Bladder is very responsive and is found in nearly every match ball but has low level of air retention ....But which is better for you?
Well the answer is a combination of both. The Best Bladder going around is a Latex Bladder but with a Butyl Valve. This way you have the great performance from the latex Bladder and the great air locking system of the Butyl Bladder. I wouldn't settle for anything less in my balls and neither does Custom Soccer Balls Australia. All their playing balls are fitted with
High Performance Latex Bladders with butyl Valves.
Image: Latex Bladder with Butyl Valve
5. Water Resistant
Playing football or soccer in the rain or on moist grounds will drastically affect a leather soccer ball. The leather will absord the moisture making the ball very heavy and therefore under perform.
At Custom Soccer Balls Australia, we protect our soccer balls by only use Synthetic Leather Casings. We coat these with either PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or varying levels of PU (polyurethane). These Chemicals are water repellents and make the soccer ball water resistant.
We then take it one step further and laminate the inside of the ball to give extra protection for the Cotton, Polyester and Foam Ply.
We would recommend you buy a ball with PU Synthetic Leather Casing and at the very least PVC. PU has a softer touch and is a higher performer and generally found in high end match and training balls. PVC is a cheaper option and more suited to junior training sessions.
If you want to design your own Customised Soccer Balls using what you have learnt here, visit www.customsoccerballs.com.au and go to our soccer ball designer and start designing today.
Image: The Glossy Shine of a ball is normally a good sign that it will be water resistant.