Ever wondered what makes a soccer ball heavier when you inflate it? After all, the air is virtually weightless, so it shouldn’t make much difference in a ball’s weight 一 right? There’s a scientific explanation for the extra weight your soccer ball packs up when you inflate it, and it’s more fascinating than you might expect.
Air makes soccer balls heavier because air has some weight beyond & below 1-atmosphere pressure. Inflating increases the amount of air and pressure inside a ball, increasing its mass. However, deflated and air-inflated balls in one atmosphere should weigh the same due to the buoyant force change.
Continue reading this article to learn more about soccer balls’ weight, with and without air. I’ll also discuss why inflated ones lose their air over time and how to pump them.
Why Does Air Make a Soccer Ball Heavier?
Air makes a soccer ball heavier because it has some weight above & below one atmosphere of pressure. The pressure at sea levels is 1 atm, but it reduces as you go up. The air (and ball) will weigh more as the pressure increases below sea level than above.
So, for example, a soccer ball in the US will be heaviest in Badwater Basin in California and lightest in Denali, Alaska, being the lowest and highest points, respectively.
Keep in mind that air always has some weight in either case, making the ball heavier.
What Is the Weight of a Deflated Soccer Ball?
Having looked at why a soccer ball gets heavier when you inflate it, you’re probably wondering how much of a weight difference inflation makes. To answer this question, we need baseline knowledge of the weight of a soccer ball before you pump it so we can compare that to the post-inflation weight.
The weight of a deflated regulation size soccer ball ranges from 389.5g to 438.75 g (13.3 oz to 15.975 oz), depending on the brand. Balls for younger teens and kids typically weigh less, and there may be slight weight differences between brands like Nike, Adidas, and Puma.
How To Deflate a Soccer Ball
Sometimes you may need to move a lot of soccer equipment at once or create space for other sporting gear in your room. Deflating a soccer ball can come in handy then, as it will reduce its weight and size.
Here are two ways to do it:
- With an Inflation Needle
Using an inflation needle to deflate a soccer ball is the safest option.
- First, lubricate the inflation needle with oil, such as silicone or glycerin oil. It allows you to slide it in and out of the ball without damaging it.
- Look for the valve opening in the soccer ball, as they all have one.
- Gently slide it in, and it should already start deflating.
- To hasten the deflation, squeeze the ball carefully as you continue holding the needle.
- Remove the inflation needle when satisfied with how deflated your soccer ball has become.
- Without an Inflation Needle
If you can’t get hold of your soccer ball‘s inflation needle, you can use something similar, like a paper clip.
Just follow the same steps that you would with an inflation needle, but be more careful not to destroy your ball’s valve opening. A damaged one is a damaged ball. You can also use your refrigerator to deflate soccer balls because air molecules contract at lower temperatures, lowering the ball’s pressure.
What Is the Weight of an Inflated Soccer Ball?
An inflated soccer ball, as discussed, is heavier than a deflated one because of the air in it. But how exactly weighty is it?
The weight of an inflated soccer ball ranges from 300g to 450 g (10oz to 16 oz) depending on the size of the ball and how inflated it is. Smaller balls weigh less, and the weight leans closer to the lower side of the usual range if the ball isn’t pumped to its recommended pressure.
The size of a ball has a bigger impact on its weight than the pressure level. Ball sizes range from 1 to 5, but the most commonly used ones are sizes 3, 4, and 5. A size 3 soccer ball weighs 300g-320g (10oz-11oz), whereas a size 4 ball weighs 350g-390g (12oz-13oz). Size 5 is the largest and heaviest soccer ball, weighing upwards of 400g (14oz).
As for the pressure level, FIFA law 02 recommends keeping it between 0.6 and 1.1 atmospheres (600–1,100 g/cm2) at sea level. The more you inflate within this range, the heavier the ball gets.
How To Inflate a Soccer Ball
You can’t play soccer balls without inflating them, so you must learn how to do so. In fact, an underinflated ball can significantly affect the players’ performance and the game’s outcome.
Here’s how to pump your soccer ball:
- Prepare your inflation needle and an air pump. Some soccer balls come with inflation needles. If not, head to any good sports store and purchase one.
- Know your ball’s ideal air pressure. If your soccer ball comes with a manual, check it to determine the perfect pressure for the best performance. You can also quickly research it online with the size and brand name if you can’t find the manual. You’ll use this pressure to set your air gauge while pumping.
- Lubricate the inflation needle and valve: Any type of oil will suffice for lubrication. It will ease the needle’s insertion and the whole inflation process.
- Set the needle & pump: Attach and lock the ball pump needle into the air pump from one end. The other narrower end should go inside the ball’s valve opening.
- Pump until recommended pressure: Start pumping gently with the pump’s handle until it reaches the proper air pressure level discussed earlier. Be careful not to overinflate it.
How Heavy Is a Size 5 Soccer Ball?
Size 5 soccer balls are the standard size professional players use in competitions. I mentioned earlier that they weigh upwards of 400g (14oz), but that’s not specific enough. So, how heavy are they?
Size 5 soccer balls are 410–450 g (14–16 oz) heavy when inflated. When deflated, they weigh slightly less because the air in an inflated ball comprises about 3 to 5 percent of the total weight.
Smaller-sized soccer balls are lighter than size 5 ones, presumably because of their smaller air capacity and the fewer materials to make them (i.e., they’re carrying rubber, PVC, synthetic leather, or whatever other materials are used to make them).
Why Do Soccer Balls Lose Air?
Over time, some inflated soccer balls gradually lose air, affecting playing performance. But why?
Soccer balls lose air because of leakage. It may be from the valve opening, damage dealt when inflating or deflating them, or any other punctured area. Exposing a soccer ball to cold conditions for extended periods can also cause it to lose pressure because air contracts when temperatures decrease.
The best ways to prevent soccer balls from losing air include:
- Deflating them when storing
- Inflating them to the advised pressure
- Carefully inserting and removing the lubricated inflation needle when using it
- Playing them on smooth surfaces
Air makes soccer balls heavier simply because air has some weight. Therefore, deflated ones are lighter than inflated ones.
The size 5 ball is the standard professional soccer players use, weighing between 410 and 450 g (14–16 oz). Smaller ones are presumably lighter because of the smaller air capacity and the fewer materials required to make them.
Hope that clears up everything as far as the topic of air and soccer balls goes.
- Department of Physics: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Q & A: weighing air etc.
- The International Football Association Board: Laws of the Game 2018/2019
- Wikihow: How to Inflate a Soccer Ball: Pumping, Maintenance, and More
- Wikipedia: List of U.S. states by elevation
- Utah Education Network: Why Do Soccer Balls Get Flat Science Fair Project