Should A Soccer Ball Be Hard Or Soft?

A soccer ball is one of the essential components of a soccer match. So, should it be hard or soft? We have the answers.

The ideal soccer ball should be hard without being overly tight. With the right pressure, the ball should bounce and go for long and accurate distances when a player shoots it. Additionally, soccer regulatory bodies prefer the soccer ball to have a hardness of 8.5 to 15.6 PSI.

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Should A Soccer Ball Be Hard Or Soft?

Overview

Typically, soccer is the most watched sport in the world, and it is a beautiful game that has a massive following.

One of the essential items in a soccer match is the ball. It is therefore important that players and football players understand and appreciate how variables such as the pressure of the ball can affect the football game, and the outcomes.

I got fascinated by understanding the kind of soccer ball players use in a professional match after one of Chelsea’s midfielders, Christian mate, complained about the ball’s pressure when he had tried multiple times to make assists to the strikers.

When the referee checked the ball, he found out that the ball did not have the recommended pressure, making the passes inaccurate. Therefore, the ball had to be changed.

Should a Soccer Ball be Soft or Hard

As outlined earlier, a soccer ball should be reasonably hard when used in a professional match. Typically, experienced players use hard soccer balls because they are already trained to handle them during training and avoid injuries when shooting or passing the ball.

However, when soccer is played for enjoyment with friends or amateur matches, the ball should be easier than a professional one because the players have no experience and may get injuries.

Additionally, most legitimate soccer balls include labels that indicate the recommended pressure range for use, and it is wise to choose a pressure level depending on your soccer playing level.

How Hard Should a Soccer Ball Be?

In the US, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) and other regulatory bodies, such as the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), provide the state with guidelines on the proper pressure to use soccer balls. It is done so that players can reach great performances, precision, speed and control. It is therefore critical that one is informed of these standards.

 According to these regulatory bodies, a soccer ball should have a pressure of 8.5 and 15.6 PSI, depending on the size of the ball.

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It is because pressures higher than 15.6 PSI may lead to injuries, especially when players knock overly pressured balls using their heads.

For instance, Bruce Murray, who represented Clemson University as a soccer star in 1995, has been struggling with encephalopathy due to repetitive hitting of the ball using his head.

Effects of using Soft Soccer Balls in Professional Matches

In professional soccer matches, using soft soccer balls will interfere with the players’ speed, dribbling ability and control.

The ball may be slower to move and travel a shorter distance to provide less accurate shots and passes than a hard soccer ball.

Additionally, professional players have advanced equipment, such as boots, that are more adapted to use on hard soccer balls; thus, when they use a soft soccer ball, it is likely to get punctured or damaged easily.

How to tell if a Soccer Ball is Soft or Hard

As mentioned above, one method to determine whether a soccer ball gets correctly inflated is that it should be firm but not very tight.

If you are uncertain of whether the soccer ball is soft, hard or has the amount of pressure you need, you can use the following methods to confirm:

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 Air Pressure Gauge

An air pressure gauge is a simple tool to check the ball’s air pressure quickly. Referees employ this procedure before a match or when players doubt whether the soccer ball has been adequately inflated.

Therefore, using an air pressure device is advisable because it will give you a precise estimate of the PSI and enable you to decide whether the ball requires more or less air.

Muscle Memory Skills

I have been attending professional matches and wondered why players always kick the ball out and request another ball.

I found out that they have learned how to check for the ball’s pressure through muscle memory skills by using the correctly pressurized soccer ball for a while.

Therefore, it is possible to use your muscle memory to check if the ball has the required pressure, but it will require some patience and time to learn it. Experienced players can do this comfortably.  

The Bouncing and Squeezing Test

These tests are commonly used in matches that do not require high levels of accuracy.

However, the bounce test is precise enough to tell if the soccer ball is within the appropriate range. The best way to use the bouncing test is to kick the ball up, let it fall, and then calculate the number of times it bounces.

Typically, if it bounces at least thrice near its shooting height, the pressure is in the correct range.

Regarding the squeezing test, it is only reliable and efficient in basic soccer practices, youth leagues and casual games.

In fact, it is unusual to spot a referee at a professional soccer game conducting the squeeze test to check the inflation of the ball before a game.

Factors that Guide the use of a Hard or Soft Soccer Ball

Level of Professionalism

As we discussed earlier, a reasonably hard soccer ball is suitable for professional players because they have acquired the skills and experience to handle and control it skillfully.

However, when it comes to other individuals who are new to soccer, they will need to use soccer balls which are not very firm in order to avoid injuries. Kids should use soft soccer balls because they are susceptible to getting injuries.

Condition of the Playground

The condition of the playground also plays an essential role in determining the amount of pressure to put in a soccer ball.

For instance, players playing in the street grounds will require a hard soccer ball because the grounds are rough. Additionally, they will also need a robust ball that can retain air because a soft and fragile ball will easily shred.

Also, the ball needs to bounce to function correctly. Regarding indoor training or playground, the soccer ball should be reasonably hard unless the ground is very spacious or you are taking big shots.

Soccer Ball Sizes and Amount of Pressure needed

Since soccer balls come in various sizes, it is crucial to understand that each may have different pressure and an age group suitable for them. The following are the sizes of the soccer ball and the appropriate pressure they need:

  • Size 1: This category of the ball requires a pressure of less than 6 PSI  and is suitable for kids and toddlers
  • Size 2: size 2 soccer balls also require a pressure of less than 6 PSI and are ideal for kids’ play
  • Size 3: This soccer ball requires a PSI for about 6 to 8 and is preferred in casual playing and indoor training.
  • Size 4: size 4 soccer ball will be reasonably hard if it is filled with air pressure ranging from 8.5 to 11.6 PSI  and is suitable for outdoor training
  • Size 5: it is the commonly used soccer ball that requires air pressure of about 8.5 to 15.6 PSI and is preferred in professional matches.

Key Takeaways

  • A Soccer ball should be reasonably hard
  • You should not be able to press soccer balls by using your hands
  • Soccer balls come in different sizes, and each size requires a different air pressure
  • In the US, the recommended pressure on soccer balls is 8.5 to 15.6 PSI