As most soccer players will attest to, soccer balls are the second most important aspect of training, with the first being choosing the right soccer cleat (click here for a guide on choosing the best indoor soccer shoes). After choosing the right soccer ball for your needs, you’ll want to make sure you take proper care of it so that you aren’t being forced to buy a new ball every few months. The average soccer player goes through countless balls every year, and the main reason that this happens is due to negligence in proper care for the ball itself.
Soccer Ball Maintenance Tips
Clean Your Ball Regularly
When playing outside, you’ll naturally see that your ball will come in contact with dirt, grime, and other substances that can cause it to become dirty. Many experts and personal trainers alike recommend that you clear your soccer ball after every use simply by wiping it down with a damp cloth. This removes the majority of grass stains and dirt, and ensures that there isn’t anything eating away at the careful stitching of the ball.
In addition to this, every few weeks you should also do a more thorough cleaning of your ball. Use a mild detergent mixed with water to wash the ball, and then rise it thoroughly with clean water. Make sure you aren’t using any harsh cleaners as they can tear away at the padding of the ball and destroy the lifecycle of any ball you may use. For tougher stains and marks such as heavy grass stains, you can make a paste of baking soda and peroxide and rub this paste onto the ball with a soft, damp cloth. After letting it sit for a few moments, rinse the paste away using cool, clean water, and then dry the ball completely. If the stain is persistent you may have to repeat this method a few times until the stain is completely gone.
Store your Ball Properly
If you play with your ball on a daily basis, or even on a weekly basis, then you can simply store the inflated ball on a shelf and let it sit. On the other hand, if you aren’t going to be using your ball for a long period of time, or if you only play once every month or two, it is best for you to deflate the ball when storing it.
A shelf for the ball is recommended so that other items won’t be put on top of the ball, causing further distress. Heavy objects sitting on top of the ball can cause pressure that can cause the ball to rupture at the seam. On a side note, standing and sitting on your soccer ball will only hurt its lifespan, so it’s recommended you avoid making this a habit.
If you decide to deflate the ball because it’s going to be inactive for a long period of time, remember that you don’t have to press every bit of air out of the ball. You simply want to let enough air escape so the internal bladder and the external synthetic leather shell aren’t under any strain.
Always Properly Inflate the Ball for Practice and Play
When you’re going to be using your ball, you want to make certain that the ball is completely and properly inflated. You do not want a ball to have too much or too little air in it.
To properly inflate your ball you need to have a pressure gauge to show you when the ball has the exact amount of air it needs. On the right side of the ball you will usually find the manufacturers recommendation for the proper amount of air pressure. You can also find soccer ball pumps with pressure gauges built in to them by clicking here.
Lubricate the Needle When Airing the Ball
When you put air into your ball, it helps if you lubricate the needle to prevent damage to the air valve. All you have to do is put a little mineral oil on the needle before you insert it into the ball. If you don’t have mineral oil, valve oil and silicon spray will work just as well. Make sure you aren’t using water or spit to lubricate the needle, as rubber repels water and can cause damage to the inside of the ball.
Play on Proper Surfaces
Different soccer balls are designed to be played on different surfaces. The majority of soccer balls are designed to be used on grassy surfaces, so make sure to avoid playing with your ball on rough surfaces such as gravel, concrete, or asphalt. These types of surfaces can knick, puncture, and overall damage the synthetic leather that the ball is made of.
You should also avoid kicking the ball against walls, especially brick ones. A lot of people use this tactic to learn to trap the ball effectively, which is not a bad strategy, but it does result in a shortened lifespan for most soccer balls out there. The rough surface of the brick wall can do some real damage to your ball.
Don’t Sit On The Ball
When you are resting you may have the urge to sit on your ball, which can create too much pressure and damage your ball.
You should also resist standing on the ball. Many players try this balancing act, and it can be fun to do, but most balls can’t tolerate this pressure, which will eventually result in a damaged soccer ball.
Any soccer ball used on a regular basis will go through wear-and-tear and eventually pop or deform. Although there are many tips and tricks to lengthen the lifespan of your soccer ball, there’s only so much you can do. To get the most use out of your soccer ball, make sure that you’re picking out the right soccer ball to purchase.
As a whole, it’s important to keep these tips and tricks in mind while enjoying the sport on a consistent basis. Don’t stress about ball maintenance too much, as it’ll take away from the fun and joy of the beautiful game.