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About the evolution of soccer balls

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Footballs ( Soccer Balls ) have advanced imensley in the last ten years which has enabled even the most uncultured of players to get movement on the ball. The problems that the new type of soccer balls give keepers is evedent in the number of dropped crosses and fumbled shots you now see even from top class keepers.

The time when a keeper could come out for a straight cross and be confident of catching the ball is a thing of the past. The preferred option of many keepers now is to punch the ball to safety and this mainly due to new lightweight balls that accelerate faster and move more in the air. These new footballs have the added bonus of retaining the same properties throughout the game unlike the footballs of the past which became waterlogged in difficult conditions.

To get more information on the various manufacturers of footballs whether it is FIFA approved match footballs or training footballs click on the icons below for a bit of history and the latest offerings.

Soccer Ball History

The first specifications for soccer balls were published by the Football Association in 1863. The first balls were made of pigs bladder and rarely kept their shape. A leather outer skin was then added for shape retention. The specifications were then revised 9 years later in 1872 and have remained relatively unchanged since. The laws of the game state the following about the dimensions and characteristics of the football.

Dimensions
The ball used in football (soccer) is called a football (or soccer ball). Law 2 of the game specifies that the ball is an air-filled sphere with a circumference of 68–70 cm (or 27–28 inches), a weight of 410–450 g (or 14–16 ounces), inflated to a pressure of 8–12 psi, and covered in leather or “other suitable material”.

About the evolution of soccer balls

The weight specified for a ball is the dry weight: older balls often became significantly heavier in the course of a match played in wet weather. The old lace up balls were particularly lethal especially if you went up for a header near the end of the game on a wet day. Lace marks could be impregnated on a players forehead for days afterwards.

Thankfully these days are gone but they should never be forgotten when understanding how remarkable players were in past years to be able to actually play with these footballs.

Size Guidelines
There are various schools of thought that advise different sizes for different age groups. The following are guidelines for youth development. The smaller size balls enable young player to get a better feel for the ball and develop a good touch.

If you are coaching young players it is important to give them as much time on the ball as possible therefore it is important, if possible, to have one ball per player. Size of ball is dependent on the age of the player.

U/9 should use size 3
10 – 13 should use size 4
14 and over should use size 5

It is important to use the correct ball for matches and training. For matches it is critical to look for the FIFA approved sign. For a ball to carry this mark the manufacturer has to pass all seven FIFA tests. The football worlds governing body uses 7 lab tests which simulate match action and guarantee consistant performance.

For training FIFA approved balls are ideal but it would very much depend on the resources available to the football club. If Match quality balls are not available then there are plenty of quality FIFA INSPECTED balls available at good prices which are suitable for training.

FIFA Quality Concept The FIFA approval is gained by soccer balls being tested under the FIFA Quality Concept. This is a test programme for outdoor, Futsal and Beach Soccer footballs. Once approved manufacturers have to enter into a licensing fee to display the quality marks of “FIFA APPROVED” and “FIFA INSPECTED”. To get round paying a license fee companies can use the wording “IMS International Matchball Standard”. These footballs go through the same level of testing as the FIFA inspected balls but they are not allowed to show any association with FIFA.

The three standards are tested to two standards. “FIFA INSPECTED” balls and IMS balls must both pass the following six Lab tests.

  1. Weight
  2. Circumference
  3. Sphericity
  4. Loss of Air Pressure
  5. Water Absorption(replaced with,Balance’ test for testing of Futsal balls )
  6. Rebound

    Footballs applying for the higher ‘FIFA APPROVED’ mark must pass the six tests at an even more demanding level and must undergo an additional test:

  7. Shape and Size Retention (Shooting Test)