How Much Air Should a Soccer Ball Have?

By | Last updated October 9, 2017

Knowing how much air a soccer ball should have is important.

Many times, though, it’s hard to figure it out.

Well… not anymore.

If you learn the basics about air pressure and air retention things will seem easier.

In this article, I’ll be giving you the answer you’re looking for plus teaching you everything you need to know so that your soccer ball feels and responds better which will make your matches more pleasant and exciting.

Introduction

As a coach, one of the most fundamental and elementary questions that I get on a regular basis relates to how to properly air up the soccer ball.

Whether it’s a recreational game or a Champions League match broadcast all over the World, this is an issue that can take hold.

Any game can be profoundly affected by how hard or soft the football is.

It can also be annoying and lead to a lot of contention among players, so it’s best to understand just how you can air the ball up to the appropriate amount.

That’s what this article is going to help you with.

How Much Air Should a Soccer Ball Have?

As with many other rules of the game of soccer, FIFA (or Fédération Internationale de Football Association, the World’s governing body for the beautiful game) also looks over the quality of official match balls.

In that regard, proper ball air pressure is also one of the topics covered in FIFA’s Laws of the Game.

To get right into answering your “how much air should a soccer ball have?” question:

A regulation ball of size 5 must have an air pressure of between 8.5 and 15.6 PSI (pounds per square inch).

(For those of you who don’t know, a regulation ball is one that has been granted a certification by FIFA for use in official matches.)

The majority of footballs, however, have an air pressure value of 8.7 to 11.6 PSI.

As you can tell, it is not a “how much air in a soccer ball” kind of matter of but rather how much air pressure should a soccer ball have, to be more accurate.

Different Air Pressures Create Different Effects on the Ball

This broad air pressure interval means that there can be a wide variance in the ball allowing for you to find different feels to the ball depending on how much PSI it has.

Too much PSI: makes the football too bouncy, feeling very hard and, thus, harder to control. Your first touch or reception will typically bounce off your foot much more than with a properly inflated ball.

This can be very dangerous, especially for youth players, because it might cause serious damage to the head and neck areas.

RELATED: How to head a soccer ball without it hurting you.

Too little PSI: will see the ball not want to bounce very well at all. It also won’t kick properly, and it will fly in ways that you do not want it to.

As you can see there are issues with having it too much air and with it having too little air.

Unfortunately, that’s just how the game is; which then allows for a lot of wiggle room for interpretation and arguments.

Experienced players and coaches, though, can certainly tell quickly by the sound and feel of the ball if it is outside of these parameters.

Different Ball Sizes Mean Different Air Pressure Levels

Please note that the above PSI numbers are for a size 5 ball, which is the largest size ball mandated by FIFA rules.

Different soccer ball sizes mean different air pressure levels.

According to the US Youth Soccer Association, smaller balls are to be used at youth levels, so those might just need a different pressure.

It should not be drastically different, though, so you should not go overboard with that.

How to Check If the Ball Is Properly Inflated

Nowadays, most soccer balls on sale state their recommended air pressure on their casing.

The best way to make sure your football is properly inflated is to use an air gauge. These, just like hand pumps for inflation, are sold in every sporting goods store.

That’s how referees do it before big matches at the professional and semi-pro levels. At lower levels, a simple physical inspection is used.

Most of the times, this is good enough to tell whether the ball is up for use or not. But it’s not always the case.

There are some other options to checking how much air you should use and even apps out there now that listen to how the ball is bouncing, believe it or not!

Always Use Correct Air Pressure

You should not over or under pressurize your soccer ball while inflating (or deflating) it.

Over inflating a football can be harmful due to the abnormal air pressure that can force and loosen the linings causing it to lose its shape and deforming it.

Pump your ball until you reach its manufacturer’s recommended air pressure (which can generally be found printed on its casing) and utilize a pressure gauge to confirm the amount of pressure it has after being inflated and before playing with it.

How to Convert PSI to BAR (and Vice-versa)?

Sometimes, recommended air pressure values are presented in PSI, other times in BAR.

Here’s how to convert different kinds of pressure values:

  • BAR to PSI conversion formula: Amount of BAR x 14.5037
    If your ball has a recommended air pressure of 0.8 BAR, you’ll need to multiply that value by 14.5037. So… 0.8 x 14.5038 = 11.60 PSI
  • PSI to BAR conversion formula: Amount of PSI x 0.068948
    If your soccer ball has a recommended air pressure of 11.60 PSI, you’ll need to multiply that value by 0.068948. 11.60 x 0.0689476 = 0.799 BAR (which can be rounded up to 0.8)

Before Inflating Your Football

As you’ll read in the next section, the quality of your soccer ball (be it an expensive match ball used in professional competitions or a cheap ball just to kick around with your friends) isn’t directly related to the number of times you’ll need to pump air into it.

Nor will your football’s age mean anything as even brand new balls begin to lose air pressure after a period of time.

What really matters (besides what’s described next) is how good its condition is.

With that said, before inflating your soccer ball for your next game, you should check it for tears or rips since that sort of conditions can affect air retention and inflation.

How Does Bladder Material Influence Air Retention?

The reason why you have to pump up your ball so many times — even expensive match balls — is due to the material used to make their bladders.

Butyl bladders can be found in middle to upper priced balls and offer a great feel while, at the same time, allowing for greater air retention that can last for weeks and even months.

Latex and polyurethane (PU) bladders, which can be found in official match balls, offer outstanding responsiveness but need to be pumped up many more times than butyl bladders.

Natural latex rubber bladders need to be inflated at least once a week since their micro pores do not allow for great air retention.

Carbon-latex bladders use carbon powder to close their micro pores in order to retain air better.

Conclusion

In this post, we learned how much air pressure should a soccer ball have and how different air pressure levels affect its behavior.

We also saw how to check whether a football is properly inflated or not and we gave you some recommendations regarding ball care and inflation.

By now your “how much air in a soccer ball” demand should be totally satisfied and I hoped you’ve enjoyed reading this article.

Keep It Bouncing,
–Coach Mike