What are Soccer Balls Made of? A Playful Peek Inside

Evidence Based

Fact Checked

Have you ever wondered what goes into making a soccer ball? Well, if you are anything like us here at Kit Queen, you’ve probably thought about it more than once!

Whether you’re a die-hard soccer fan or just starting to get involved the game, we’re here to give you an insight into the craftsmanship and skill that goes into making these amazing soccer balls of fun!

So let’s kick it up a notch and explore what makes up a soccer ball. 

What are soccer balls made of?

The cover - made of Polyurethane (PU) or PVC

The stitching - made of polyester, Kevlar or glued by thermal heating

The lining - made of cotton & polyester 

The bladder - made of butyl or latex

The complete guide to what soccer balls are made of

There are four core components that go into making a soccer ball – the cover, the inner lining, the stitching and the bladder at the heart of the ball. Here’s everything you need to know about each one.

The cover – made of Polyurethane (PU) or PVC

The cover of your soccer ball is usually made from high-quality materials such as PU leather or synthetics.

These can be panels or hexagonal patches that gives it the shape and appearance we all know and love to kick! 

These materials are designed to stand up to rough play and wear and tear, so they provide long-lasting durability.

These materials can also help your foot get better grip on the ball which helps provide better control and accuracy when shooting or passing the ball. 

The outer shell also need to be durable enough to withstand repeated contact with the ground – and your feet! – during play and practice sessions. 

The stitching – made of polyester, Kevlar or glued by thermal heating

The stitching on a soccer ball matters just as much as its cover material.

Quality stitching should be tight and secure so that it doesn’t come undone after repeated use. Hand stitched soccer balls have tighter and stronger seams.

High-end balls are hand-sewn, whilst most low and mid-priced balls are machine-stitched. The stitching is completed by turning the ball completely inside out and individually sewing the panels together by hand. 

Not only does this ensure that your soccer balls last longer but it also helps keep their shape even after heavy use.

These days synthetic soccer balls tend to be preferred over leather balls. Not least because leather can get heavier when they’re wet!

Synthetic balls are made up of polyurethane panels which have been thermally bonded. This process creates a seamless surface which is still very durable and offers superior handling. 

It’s important to always check for quality stitching and seams when purchasing any type of soccer ball to make sure you get one that will hold up over time. 

what materials are soccer balls made from

The lining – made of cotton & polyester 

Inside your soccer ball sits an inner lining which provides structure and shape to the overall design of the ball while also providing an additional layer of cushioning for longer playability.

It also helps give the ball its round shape by providing extra support for its panels when it becomes deflated during play or practice sessions.

Polyester fabric is often used as lining material since it’s lightweight yet strong enough to provide adequate protection for both layers within the ball itself.  

For extra strength, structure and bounce, a combination of polyester and cotton fabrics are fused together to form multiple protective layers between the cover and internal bladder.

Some soccer ball balls also feature a foam-padded layer that provides extra cushioning, ensuring improved ball control and responsive handling.

The bladder – made of butyl or latex

The innermost layer of a soccer ball is known as its bladder.

This part holds air within the ball and ensures that it remains inflated during play.

The bladder can either be made from butyl rubber (which is preferred) or latex (which is less popular).

Butyl rubber bladders tend to hold their shape better over time, while latex bladders can be prone to leaking air if not properly cared for.

Butyl rubber bladders are able to retain air better than latex bladders, allowing them to keep their shape longer while maintaining their bounce even when they become slightly deflated during play. 

Watch and learn: How are soccer balls made?

Here’s a pretty fascinating video that shows you how soccer balls are made in a factory!

What are professional FIFA soccer balls made of?

The soccer balls used at professional and top-flight level like World Cups are typically made of synthetic leather.

This is leather coated with polyurethane – a treated, protective coating that makes it highly durable and resistant to wear and tear.

This material is favored by those in the know because it has the best feel for the ball.

That is, when you kick or pass a soccer ball made of synthetic leather, you can really feel the ball on your foot. It also offers more control over the ball when passing or shooting. 

What material is best for a soccer ball?

Soccer balls have come a long way since the early days of pigs’ bladders — thankfully!

Today, synthetic materials have made it possible for soccer balls to offer greater durability, improved performance, and a more pleasant scattering of colors compared to their more basic predecessors.

Out of all the available materials, polyurethane (PU) has become the most popular choice due to its ability to withstand wear and tear from regular use and its relatively affordable price tag.

Besides being able to take on a wide range of colors, the plasticky surface maintains good shape over time and resists water damage making it well-suited for any field you might want to play on.

Plus, if you’re looking for something stylish, you’ve simply got to love how glossy and shiny this material looks!

How much does a soccer ball weigh?

According to FIFA’s specifications, soccer balls come in two sizes – size 4 and 5.

Players aged 8-12 should use the smaller size 4 ball which weighs between 350g and 390g, whereas players over 12 years old must play with a larger size 5 ball that has to be within 420g-450 g.

With these guidelines set by FIFA, you can always trust that your team is playing their games with approved materials!

what size soccer ball do i need infographic

Which is the best brand of soccer ball?

When it comes to choosing a soccer ball, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

Depending on the type of game you’re playing and your level of experience, what’s best for you may be entirely different from what’s best for someone else.

That said, one brand that stands out when it comes to consistently producing quality soccer balls is Adidas.

From the traditional World Cup designs to the latest Hi-Vis releases, Adidas is always upping the ante with innovative materials and construction processes.

Which means you can feel confident in choosing their balls as well as enjoying the way they look.

Nike of course also bring some of the most advanced tech to the field, with their soccer balls featuring in the Women’s Euros in 2022 and the men’s Euros in 2021 too. (And we loved the little car that carried them in!)

Check out our best soccer ball reviews to find out which ball is right for you!

The final score

When it comes to soccer, having the right ball makes all the difference.

It needs to be hardy enough to handle some serious kicks while still being light enough for skillful dribbling.

The best material to create a soccer ball with is synthetic leather as it’s strong and designed to stand up to all sorts of weather conditions plus intense activity, allowing players of all ages and levels of experience to get their game on with no worries.

So there you go – all you need to know about soccer balls and what’s they’re made of!

Research review icon kitqueen

Our Research & Review Process

At Kit Queen, our goal is to bring you the most comprehensive and trustworthy recommendations in the world of football.

We’re not just spectators; we’re players in the research game. We study the latest scientific findings and football journals to give you insights grounded in solid evidence. But it’s not all about the stats and data. We also gather real-life experiences and opinions from football enthusiasts, coaches, professional bodies and of course, actual players.

Our hands-on approach extends to the field. We don’t just read about football gear; we test it. We try out boots, shirts, and equipment on the pitch, assessing their performance in real match conditions across various playing styles and skill levels.

This detailed and active approach allows us to kick you the truth about which products really live up to their hype.

Remember, the right gear can make a significant difference in your game. But always consider personal preferences and playing style before making your choice.

This article was written by

  • Anna Adams, Creative Director & Content Lead

    Hi there! I'm Anna Adams, your go-to source for all things women's soccer. I've been crazy about soccer for over 20 years, ever since I was kicking a ball around with my brothers as a kid. I've turned my passion into a career where I get to share all the cool stuff about soccer with you. As a content lead, I've had the awesome opportunity to work with various sports brands and publications. Whether it's the latest gear, pro tips, or just some cool soccer trivia, I'm all about making soccer ac...