What is Inflating the Modern Day Match Ball?

Modern day Match ball

For the most part, it does not occur to most people of what kinds of air is in a football and especially ball designed for professional matches.  When you search for the information, it emerges there are several kinds of “fillings” that can go into football inflation. Apparently, in the main, it is imagined compressed air is the most common answer, but it turns out there are indeed other gas fillings, and furthermore there are different ones for different effects! 

Compressed air is indeed the most common, but there are balls filled with other gasses than plain old regular air. 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 1% other stuff but there are indeed different fillings as well as compressed air.  Upon doing some research on the subject, we found out there are several other gasses that can be used and these do have different effects on the performance of the ball in play.  While the main stipulations state:-

Quote: “FIFA rules do not specify what gas should be used to inflate an international football ball, i.e., a US soccer ball. The only requirement FIFA levies on inflation are that the ball be pressurised to a gauge pressure of 600g/cm2 to 1,100 g/cm2 (8.5 lbs/in2 – 15.6 lbs/in2). Thus, balls can be filled with air or nitrogen!”

So there are indeed other fillings including Nitrogen, Oxygen, and Helium all of which have different effects on performance.  Compressed air is quite a heavy filling compared to the other two making the ball much heavier to use on the whole.  Helium comes next on the list and as most know it is lighter than air so outperforms the former due to the lightness of the ball when in play but it has more tendency to be affected by the wind providing “more curling or curve.”

This obviously translates into being able to be kicked further by the players but it curls like crazy.  Almost half that of helium, this ball is going to confuse those goalkeepers and it will be fascinating to play with this kind of ball.

A survey was done at Ohio state university finding the following results:-

“An experiment like this was conducted at Ohio State University.  Two identical footballs, one air-filled and one helium-filled, were used outdoors on a windless day at The Ohio State University’s athletic complex.  The kicker was a novice punter and was not informed which football contained the helium.  Each football was kicked 39 times.  The kicker changed footballs after each kick so that his leg would play no favourites if he tired or improved with practice.  Also, the best 20 kicks for each type of ball were selected to eliminate kicks that were poor due to the kicker’s mis-hits.”

Further research shows:-

A scientific determination is as follows.  Two balls were filled with different gasses one being Hydrogen and the other with Nitrogen and tested for kicking distances.

“PV = nRT for both footballs. P = 1.827 atm, V = 4.237 L, and R = 0.08205 L-atm/mol-degK. It is already given that T = 298K.  So n = 1.000 ball gas in each football.”

It turns out..

1 ball is filled with Nitrogen or N2 is 28.02g, and 1 ball is 4.000g.  So the nitrogen football is 28.02/4.000 = 7 times heavier than the helium football.  Additionally, a nitrogen-filled ball will show that kicking it with the same speed as an air-filled ball, and it will be more affected by wind, i.e. will curve/curl slightly more than an air-filled ball.

While it is not a typical question pondered it is an interesting fact that depending on which kind of gas gives differing results the ball performance. Some few interesting facts on football fillings and their respective match performances all of which you should bear in mind when having a flutter with your favourite online bookies we recommend Grosvenor Casino with inflated odds from BookMakers.tv.  Hope you found the information titillating and now you have another interesting topic to discuss at your next football match meet up!  Enjoy!


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