The way that soccer balls bounce and move may make you wonder what they are filled with. Is it Helium? Or maybe Oxygen? Or is there some other sort of magical gas inside them?
The subject of how to fill a soccer ball might seem simple but if you don’t know how it is done then it may seem like a mystery. Let’s take a look at some of the different gasses that people think that balls might contain.
A quick search on Google reveals that a lot of people believe that Helium is the gas that is used to inflate soccer balls. In fact, this seems to be a sort of urban myth that has spread pretty far and wide.
The general belief seems to be that this would explain how the best players can get the ball to move about so impressively in the air. Could they bend and curve the ball like that if it wasn’t a very light gas like Helium inside it?
Yet soccer balls have never been filled with Helium. There is no record of an official match ever being played anywhere with a ball that has been filled in this way. Indeed, tests on this matter seem to suggest that it wouldn’t make as much of a noticeable difference as we would expect anyway.
The ball would possibly move in the air a bit more and go higher when kicked but it certainly wouldn’t float up into the sky like a balloon. Tests seem to suggest the extra height would mean that it wouldn’t go as far in terms of distance.
You might think that Nitrogen is the gas that is used to pump up soccer balls. Again, some tests have been carried out and it looks as though using Nitrogen would make a difference but not as much as you might imagine. The ball would go higher and move more from side to side but it probably wouldn’t be a dramatic difference.
Anyway, this gas seems to have never been used to fill soccer balls either.
Could pure Oxygen be the gas that is used to do this? There is probably not any advantage in using pure oxygen instead of normal air. Anyway, there is no need to fill soccer balls with pure Oxygen.
Fewer experiments seem to have been done on this. Pure Oxygen is slightly denser than normal air, so there would appear to be no benefits of using it, at least in terms of distance or the ability to curve the ball.
It seems unlikely that soccer balls would be filled with Carbon Dioxide, right? There is no record of anyone trying this, even as an experiment just to see what happens.
Since CO2 is heavier than air, it would seem reasonable to expect that a ball filled with this gas would be more difficult to kick far and bend.
Since the rules of soccer govern just about every little aspect of the game, it seems fair to expect them to mention something about how the ball is filled. Yet, they give no indication of what kind of gas should be used to do this.
What the rules do mention is the allowed pressure of a ball. This is stated as pressure of 600g/cm2 to 1,100 g/cm2 (8.5 lbs/in2 – 15.6 lbs/in2). Lighter gasses such as Helium wouldn’t be suitable as they wouldn’t fit in this pressure range.
Some other gases wouldn’t meet this pressure requirement either. So, it seems that the only reasonable option is to use either air or Nitrogen, as either of them could fit this criterion.
There is no need to worry about getting a hold of special gasses for inflating a soccer ball. Normal air is all that is needed to do this.
While the rules don’t state this explicitly, it seems to be taken for granted that regular air is what people will use. It means that inflating a ball is a simple, safe process. It also means that there is no danger if the ball bursts or leaks air.
You don’t need to find any complicated solutions when the time comes to inflate a soccer ball. Plain old air is all that is needed to do this to the required standard. The only issue you really need to take care over is that the pressure of the ball meets the FIFA rules.