What Is a Soccer Ball Made of? Composition, Materials, Cost, & More!

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If you are wondering what soccer balls are made of, I believe you are a soccer enthusiast as well. Well, if I were to answer the question in short, there are 2 main parts that essentially make a soccer ball; the inner bladder and the outer covering. 

The inner bladder of a soccer ball is inflated with air and comes with a valve that keeps the air locked. This helps keep the soccer ball bouncing for longer.

Whereas, the outer covering, or external surface, of the soccer ball, is thicker. This enables soccer players to enjoy proper ball-kicking resistance.

Below, read on to learn what a soccer ball is made of today, including the materials, uses, costs, as well as future manufacturing trends.

What Materials Are Used to Make Soccer Balls?

Research shows that the worldwide market for making soccer balls is expected to reach $4.87 billion by 2029. Now, much like soccer itself, the materials that soccer balls are made of will continue to evolve. 

There are many different materials used to make soccer balls today. The most common are:

  • Plastic 
  • Rubber
  • Cotton
  • Synthetic or natural leather 

All soccer balls have the same elements — an outer lining, an inner lining, a bladder, a valve, and stitching or gluing. These elements are made of different materials that will ensure optimal performance of the soccer ball as well as quality and longevity. 

Outer Casing

The outer casing, a.k.a. outer cover, of a soccer ball is made of either synthetic leather of PU (polyurethane) or PVC (polyvinyl chloride). 

PVC balls are harder to the touch and are cheaper. On the other hand, PU soccer balls are of higher quality and: 

  • Give the ball a defined shape and softer appearance 
  • Ensure the outer surface is waterproof, enduring, and robust 

Before the 1970s, soccer balls were mainly made out of real leather. But, since real leather is not water resistant (which can lead to head injuries), it was initially replaced with Polyurethane.

This material was also replaced with a much more functional PVC and PU synthetic leather that manufacturers still use today.

Sometimes, a specific felt cover might be used to make indoor soccer balls. It allows players to gain more control over the ball when playing on smoother surfaces, such as parquet.

What’s more, some manufacturers will apply glossy finishes to the outer lining of a soccer ball to prevent water and/or material damage. 

Inner Lining

The inner lining is located between the outer cover of the soccer ball and its bladder. It has a few thick layers that are made of polyester and cotton. 

According to general standards, there are 2 types of inner linings used in soccer balls:

  • Professional soccer balls. They have 4 layers of cotton and polyester, which improve ball control and bouncing, as well as guarantee longevity. 
  • Practice and commercial soccer balls. These balls typically have 2 layers of both cotton and polyester. This combo makes them less durable, bouncy, and manageable.

While a soccer ball’s cotton layers are designed to make the ball softer, its polyester layers make it more durable.


A soccer ball bladder is designed to hold the optimal air volume on the inside for a longer time. Bladders are the most internal surface of soccer balls and are made of the following materials: 

  • Butyl rubber is the most common material that soccer ball bladders are made of. It ensures longer retention of the inside air, which then makes the ball more kickable. Compared to other materials, butyl soccer ball bladders can be more prone to distortion.  
  • Latex bladder soccer balls are the most responsive and are most commonly used by professionals. But latex bladders don’t have the air retaining capacity that butyl bladders have.  
  • Natural latex rubber bladders are the softest and most responsive of all bladder materials. Yet they have smaller pores than others. This lets the air escape quickly. 
  • Carbon-latex bladders offer the highest quality of materials. This material prevents air leakage, makes the soccer ball soft and controllable, and gives it a bigger bounce. 


When the stitching is of high quality, the soccer ball performs better and lasts longer. Stitching helps keep the panels of the soccer balls together. Depending on the stitching quality, the soccer ball will be more or less expensive. 

Professional soccer balls use stitches made of polyester. Polyester is compatible with any weather condition. But Kevlar is also an alternative. This is a fiber that is both waterproof and long-lasting but more expensive than polyester. 

While most soccer ball panels are stitched, many can also be glued together with the help of thermal heating. Gluing soccer ball panels is incredibly popular and affordable. Still, stitching will always be preferred since it makes soccer balls smoother and easier to manage and kick. 

The Valve

In most cases, soccer ball valves are made of butyl rubber and can be easily inflated. But, as of late, many manufacturers have replaced butyl rubber valves with silicone valves. Silicone is a high-end material that provides more air retention but also comes at a higher price. 

The valve is quite an important element of the soccer ball. Once inflated, the valve should close easily, retaining the air. Since they are highly elastic and have a small hole fit for a pump needle, soccer ball valves can open and close with ease.


All in all, soccer balls are built to last. But, depending on the material and the manufacturer itself, soccer balls can be made in different qualities and have varying prices: $15-$40 for good quality soccer balls, $35-$125 for high-quality balls, and up to $200 for premium quality soccer balls. With proper care and maintenance, soccer balls will last you from 2 months to a few years. 

As for the future, the quality of soccer balls won’t only come down to materials and stitches but also to the use of smart microchips and sensors that are expected to prevent sports injuries and track the ball’s movements as a way to optimize its accuracy and efficiency. 


Is there plastic in soccer balls?

In general, yes. Various soccer balls use plastic materials, such as PU, PVC, or butyl rubber. Plastic materials used in soccer balls allow for greater durability, make the ball waterproof, and improve ball management.

However, certain soccer balls are manufactured from eco-friendly materials, e.g., bottle-recycled plastic, sustainable cotton or rubber, or eco-friendly synthetics.

Are soccer balls made from oil?

Soccer balls are not directly oil-made. Instead, they can be made from certain oil-derived materials, e.g., PU or PVC, which are, in essence, plastics.

What are soccer balls filled with?

For the most part, soccer balls are inflated with air. The air helps retain the shape and bounce of soccer balls. However, indoor soccer balls may also be filled with foam or foam-like materials. These help players have a smoother experience when maneuvering the ball.

What is the best material for a soccer ball?

The best material for a soccer ball will depend on the surface on which it is used. For example, top-quality soccer balls might use natural leather and will be intended for indoor use. These balls will also be softer and offer more control, though at a higher cost. 

At the same time, synthetic materials like PU and PVC are more affordable and trusted because of their durability and water resistance.

Lastly, eco-friendly soccer balls that are made of recycled materials are also in high demand among manufacturers. Keep in mind that the better the material for the soccer ball is, the higher its quality and price will be.  

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