How to Deflate a Soccer Ball the correct way

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Why deflate a soccer ball?

Any soccer player who travels can tell you it is much easier and more convenient to transport a deflated soccer ball than an inflated one. You can easily fit a deflated soccer ball into your backpack or luggage, whereas an inflated one is bulky and takes up way too much room.

Deflated soccer balls are particularly convenient if you want to bring your ball in your carry-on luggage on an airplane.

There are a couple ways to answer the question of how to deflate a soccer ball. The best way is to use a ball pump or needle. In a pinch, you can also use a paperclip, pen, or other small, sharp object to deflate the ball. This is recommended only in emergency situations, though, as using a ball pump or needle better protects your ball.

Be careful

The most important thing to remember when deflating a soccer ball, no matter which method you use, is to avoid damaging the internal bladder of the ball. To protect the internal bladder, the air must be released at a slow, even pace to protect the integrity of your ball.

Most soccer balls are made of a core or internal bladder with an inner lining that covers the bladder and then an outer panel. The internal bladder takes up the bulk of the soccer ball’s composition, which is why deflating the bladder makes soccer balls much more compact and storable. 

Then there is a layer of lining to protect the bladder. The outer panel is the outermost layer with the recognizable black and white hexagons that are stitched together. There is a valve on the outer panel that connects to the internal bladder for pumping and releasing air to inflate and deflate the ball.

Deflating a Soccer Ball with a Pump and Needle

This is the best and most recommended way to deflate your soccer ball. It will help the air be released gradually and evenly to avoid damaging the internal bladder of the ball. For this method, it is best to have your air pump with needle adapter (make sure they are connected), water or coconut oil, and a friend to help you. Here are the steps to deflating a soccer ball with a pump and needle.

  1. Locate the valve on your ball. It should be made of a strong silicone material and be visible on the outer panel of your ball.
  2. Take the same pump you use to inflate your ball. Moisten the tip of the adapter needle on your ball pump. You can do this by dipping the needle in water or a simple lubricant such as coconut oil. Water works fine, but you may find you prefer coconut oil or that it makes slipping the needle into the valve easier.
  3. Use your dominant hand (for this example we will assume it is the right hand) to insert the needle slowly and steadily into the valve until it hits the bladder pipeline. It is important not to just jam the needle into the valve as this can damage the bladder. Use your less dominant hand, or your left hand for this example, to hold the soccer ball close to the valve as you insert the needle. Once the needle is where it needs to be, you should feel air releasing from the internal bladder.
  4. While continuing to hole the needle with your controlled hand and the ball near the valve with the other, have a friend gently squeeze the ball on both sides with their hands. Do not try to force the air out too quickly as this can damage the bladder. Have your friend use gentle, gradual pressure to squeeze until all the air is released and the ball is flat. Be sure to continue holding the needle vertically as the ball deflates without changing the angle.
  5. Remove the needle and store the ball and the pump.

Deflating a Soccer Ball Without a Needle

Again, note that this is not the best or recommended way to deflate a soccer ball. It is always best to use a pump and needle when possible. Occasionally, in emergency situations, it is okay to use a pen or paper clip to deflate your ball  if you don’t have access to a pump and needle. For this method you will need a pen or paper clip, water or coconut oil, and a friend.

  1. Take a metal paper clip or a ballpoint pen. Be sure that the thickness of the point you will be using is smaller in diameter than the diameter of the valve on your ball. If using a paper clip, open and straighten it. Try not to break it because you will want as much length as possible when handling the valve.
  2. Just like the top of the needle from the pump and needle method, you will need to lubricate your tool of choice. Use water or coconut oil to moisten the tip of the paper clip or pen. You may need to use a glove or cloth to get a firm grip on the paper clip.
  3. Insert the moistened end of the paper clip or pen into the valve of your soccer ball. Like the pump and needle method, use your writing hand to hold the paper clip and your other hand to hold the ball near the valve. Apply gentle pressure until you hit the pipeline of the bladder and feel air coming out of the ball.
  4. Have your friend squeeze the ball with both hands using consistent and even pressure. Have your friend squeeze while you hold the paper clip and ball in place, until the ball is flat. This may take some time, so be patient and do not have your friend press more forcefully in an attempt to get the job done quicker, as this can damage your ball.
  5. Once the ball is flat, remove the paper clip or pen and store your ball.

Final Thoughts

Either of the above methods works for flattening your soccer ball for storage. To prolong the life of your ball and avoid potential damage, use the pump and needle method instead of the paper clip method whenever possible. Now that you know how to deflate a soccer ball, you can keep your ball in tip top shape no matter where you go.

Also take a look at the article about using an electric ball pump.

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