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Pentagons & Hexagons on a Soccer Ball: How Many?

The ball is pretty much the most important thing to consider when it comes to playing soccer and there are so many different variations of ball available to buy around the world.

The most traditional form of soccer ball features a series of panels that all come together to form a spherical shape that can effectively fold out into a honeycomb-like shape.

This kind of soccer ball is made up of panels that are both pentagons and hexagons; today we will be asking the question how many are there on the ball? 

A soccer ball features panels that are shaped like both pentagons and hexagons, with the ball featuring 12 panels shaped like pentagons and 20 panels shaped like hexagons. These shapes help form the structure of the ball and essentially form a puzzle when put together that holds the ball together in a round shape. 

What Are These Shapes For? 

There are a number of reasons why soccer balls are made up of both pentagons and hexagons, however, the main reason is to do with the structure of the ball.

Soccer balls are of course round shaped and need to stay this way whenever it is kicked in order to prevent any disruption to the match, for this reason, the pentagons and hexagons fit together like a puzzle when they are stitched together.

This all ensures that the ball has structural integrity throughout the match. 

Another reason why these panels are important relates to the aerodynamics of the ball, these days some of the more elaborate designs don’t use the pentagon and hexagon style as it is no longer the most aerodynamic way of making a soccer ball.

In the past, though, there was no better choice as far as manufacturers were concerned and this meant that the design flourished for many years. 

The final reason that the panels were used was for the birth of television both in black and white and in color.

With the traditional style of soccer ball having both black and white panels on them it was easy for television viewers to see where the ball was while watching a match from home.

The same can be said about when the transfer to color television as the balls was still easy to separate from the players and field, perhaps we should go back to this style in the future? 

Does The Number Ever Change?

The traditional number of panels on a soccer ball is 12 pentagons and 20 hexagons as these are the measurements for a standard-sized soccer ball used in any FIFA-sanctioned game of soccer. However, there are, of course, many different forms of soccer that use different variations of the ball. 

The measurements involved with working out how many panels needed to be on a ball are incredibly hard to understand, but in essence, they relate to the way they need to fit together in a spherical shape. So, do the maths change when the size does? 

Essentially yes, when the size of the ball changes the measurements involved change too as having the same number of panels as a regular-sized ball wouldn’t give the ball the same structural integrity. 

Who Created The 32-Panel Design? 

We are all so familiar with the traditional 32-panel design of soccer balls in today’s game, but less is known about the guy who came up with the idea in the first place.

To start with, his name was Eigil Nielsen, a Danish goalkeeper that also worked for a shoe-making company alongside his soccer career. 

Nielsen was obsessed with researching how to make the soccer ball better and worked on the topic for many years before discovering the 32-panel design we all know and love. Nielsen founded Select Sports, a brand that is still going today and still produces some of the best soccer balls in the world. 

It took some time for the wider world to become aware of Nielsen’s creation but once FIFA got wind of the idea they soon wanted to use it in the World Cup.

The 32-panel soccer ball design had become commonplace in most ball production by the 1960s and as such the first World Cup ball to use the design was made by Adidas ahead of the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. 

Now you know how many pentagons and hexagons there are on a soccer ball as well as why they are there and who created the design.

Maybe next time you find yourself discussing the game in a bar you could amaze your pals with this newfound knowledge.