With the soccer season approaching, not to mention the Football World Cup, soccer enthusiasts across New Zealand are digging out their football gear and preparing to hit the pitch. What better time, then, for a few tips on how to look after your soccer ball?
To care for your soccer ball you need to pay attention to three general areas:
- Proper use.
- Correct inflation.
Don’t Abuse Your Soccer Ball
The outer covering of a soccer ball is made from either natural or synthetic leather. Though tough enough to withstand being kicked repeatedly, this material is, however, vulnerable to sharp objects and abrasive surfaces.
Use your soccer ball only on grass, turf, or artificial playing surfaces.
Never use any ball you care about on concrete, gravel or tarmac. These harsh surfaces will cause nicks and accelerated wear on the soccer ball’s outer surface. In time this will result in a ball that performs unevenly and is vulnerable to punctures.
Never stand or sit on your soccer ball. These actions place pressure on the ball from two sides at once and will over-stress both the bladder and the stitching in the outer cover. Your ball will become deformed and may burst.
Avoid kicking your ball repeatedly against a wall. Brick and concrete will damage its outer covering and the hard-surface impact may alter the shape of your soccer ball.
Inflate Your Soccer Ball Correctly
Playing with a ball that is either under-inflated or over-inflated will shorten the lifespan of that ball. Under-inflation makes the ball less able to resist the impact of kicks. Over-inflation will stress the bladder and the stitching.
Inflate your ball in line with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Generally, soccer balls should be inflated to a pressure of between 6 to 8 pounds per square inch (PSI). The only way to correctly measure the level of inflation is to use a pressure gauge.
When inflating your ball, use a proper ball pump fitted with an inflation needle. Before inserting the inflation needle into the ball, apply a few drops of silicone lubricant to the ball’s valve. This will aid insertion and prolong the life of the valve.
Inflation Dos and Don’ts
Never attempt to blow your ball up using the air hose at a garage – this is a quick way to over-inflate your ball and burst its bladder.
After a game, deflate your ball slightly. This will relieve the pressure on the bladder and stitching and extend the ball’s lifespan. Remember to always re-inflate to the proper pressure before using it again.
Keep it Clean
Clean your ball after use. Wipe away mud, grass and dirt with a damp cloth. Only in extreme cases should you use any sort of cleaning agent. Detergents, particularly those that contain bleach, can damage the material of the outer covering. If you do have to use a detergent, make sure it’s the mildest you can find and contains no bleach. After using detergent, wipe the ball with a cloth dampened with clean water.
If mud has become ingrained in the seems of your soccer ball, allow it to dry and then remove it by brushing with a medium bristled brush or and old toothbrush.
Respect Gets Respect
If you use your ball appropriately, inflate it correctly and keep it clean, your soccer ball will return the favour by giving you many years of playing enjoyment.How to Care for Your Soccer Ball,