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What Are Soccer Balls Made of?

At their core, soccer balls are about as basic as sports equipment can get. There are several different variations that a person can opt for, and they all perform at different levels. While they all may look the same, different materials dictate price.

What are soccer balls made of? This is a look at everything that makes a soccer ball what it is.

Outer Cover

The outer cover of a soccer ball is going to be made of a synthetic type of material in the modern game. This is to help with the longevity of the ball, and little things such as water resistance. The ball was made of less durable material in the past, which means it will not last nearly as long.

In the 1970s, manufacturers began to put a polyurethane layer over pure leather to help durability. That has helped significantly in making the ball perform consistently at the highest levels. Players ultimately want as much control as possible, but using something such as PVC is too plastic-like for anything more than cheaper balls.

Finally, indoor soccer balls sometimes come with a unique felt cover. This is to help with better control on smooth surfaces. This type of ball is not always used indoors, but it provides a different option.


Inside a soccer ball is an inner lining that goes right between the outer cover and the bladder. The quality of this material will really dictate how bouncy the ball is, and how it feels when players are kicking everything around.

High-end soccer balls have inner linings that are actually made of multiple layers. There can be a handful of layers of both polyester and cotton to make it feel just about perfect. Cotton is used to provide a little bit of softness, while polyester adds to the overall durability.

The more expensive soccer balls out there might only have a single layer or two for inner lining. It is almost always made of polyester, since cotton can be costly and lacks durability. That does not mean that these inexpensive balls are not going to last long, but only having a layer or two will hurt how easy it is to control the ball.


Soccer balls have relied on high-quality stitching to stay together and perform at a high level for a long time. Stitches are used to connect the panels of the ball together, and the quality of the stitches usually dictates how expensive the ball is.

For professional balls, stitching is made of polyester. It is very durable, and a durable type of material that works well for all weather conditions. Kevlar is another option with more durability and water resistance, but it does come at a price.

Since the stitching can be a little bit tricky, some balls are trying to stay away from any altogether. Instead of using stitching, the panels are actually glued together by way of thermal heating.

This has been a recent phenomenon in the last decade, but some of the top options have switched to this setup. The great thing about no stitching is that the ball is a little bit smoother, which provides players with more accuracy than ever.

Do not expect to see this type of gluing technique on cheaper balls. For now, it comes at a bit of a premium. Stitching still holds up to a certain degree, and some players still prefer the more traditional setup.


A soccer ball bladder needs to hold the right amount of air for a reasonably long amount of time. It needs to stay consistent even when it is being kicked around from all match long. A durable bladder can make or break just how good a ball actually is.

The bladder is made up of butyl for many soccer balls because it is very durable and does a great job of holding air in. The only disadvantage to butyl is that it can sometimes get deformed, making the ball very tough to use for too long. That is why a lot of manufacturers spent a reasonable amount of time getting something a little bit better overall.

Latex is now used by a lot of high-end manufacturers putting out balls for professional use. It is very responsive, and players love the way that the ball feels compared to a butyl bladder. Latex can sometimes lose air a little more quickly, but it just takes a few seconds to fill regularly.


It might not seem like much, but the valve is an important part of the soccer ball since that is where air passes through when inflating. It has a small place for a needle to be stuck into the ball from the outside to get the ball feeling perfectly.

Valves are made of a butyl rubber material that can easily open up when a needle is inserted. With just a little bit of elasticity to it, everything closes up very easily when the pump needle is moved. Some of the high-end soccer balls have switched to silicone valves, as it provides slightly better air retention.

The Future of Soccer Balls

Like any sport, manufacturers are messing around with equipment all the time to see if little tweaks can make a big difference. One would think that the future of soccer balls will look mostly the same as they do now, but there is no telling what might actually happen.

It might not seem like soccer balls change too much throughout the years, but they have gone through some pretty significant changes.

The best balls perform very well currently, but there is nothing saying that new technology will not come along at some point. For the most part, manufacturers are looking for ways to make soccer balls more consistent and durable.