How to get soccer ball pressure just right
(How much air pressure is enough?)

It's a question you were just wondering about. What's the regulation soccer ball pressure in psi, pounds per square inch? 

FIFA says the air pressure in a regulation soccer ball must be between 8.5 psi and 15.6 psi.

pressure requirements for each ball size


SIZE 3 8.5 - 15.6 PSI
SIZE 4 8.5 - 15.6 PSI
SIZE 5 8.5 - 15.6 PSI

Ball pressure is the same for all 3 soccer ball sizes.
soccer ball and pressure gaugeSoccer Ball Air Pressure Gauge

Admittedly, that's a wide range of acceptable pressures for a soccer ball to be inflated to, but that's the official rule of FIFA, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association. The huge publicity/controversy nicknamed "Deflategate" that surrounded Tom Brady and the New England Patriots American football team makes me wonder if a deflategate could happen in soccer too. Could  a purposefully under inflated  ball be used for one team to gain an advantage?

Quick answer: no.

Both teams play with the same ball, so any under-inflated or over-inflated ball would be noticed immediately by the players or one of the officials who examines the ball before the match starts. An improperly inflated soccer ball would be replaced with a properly inflated ball before any play would continue. What else do you need to know about soccer ball pressure?

What else is in This Post about inflating soccer balls?

You've got the simple answer to what's the best air pressure for soccer balls, but there are also some other important things to know about the soccer balls you want to use for your kids. These include the 3 ways on how to measure the pressure of a soccer ball, the best way on how to inflate a soccer ball properly, how to deflate a soccer ball, how pressure affects the behavior of the soccer ball, and what soccer balls are inflated with.

A good referee should check the soccer ball before each game to make sure it is suitable for playing a game. Weather and field conditions and the age of the soccer players may affect the referees judgement on the exact pressure she feels is best for all concerned.

How does a referee or the home team coach make sure the soccer ball is properly inflated? There are 3 ways to measure soccer ball pressure.


Soccer ball air pressure gauge
  • BEST METHOD. The best way to measure the soccer ball pressure is to use a air pressure gauge. It is recommended that you use one of these gauge to measure the exact amount of pressure in a ball after inflating and before use.  The large majority of air pressure gauges are analog, but there are newer digital gauges too. Many gauges include markings on their dials to show you the right pressure for soccer, volleyball, and basketballs. Some soccer gall pressure gauges will even include markings for the softer inflated FUTSAL soccer balls.

how to measure pressure if you don't have a soccer pressure gauge

  • WORST METHOD. The bounce test. This is the least reliable and I don't recommend it, even though you'll find this soccer ball pressure-checking method posted on other soccer websites. Example 1: Drop your soccer ball from 80 inches and it should bounce back up to between 45 and 65 inches. Example 2: A soccer ball should bounce up about 2/3 of the original height it was dropped from.
  • MOST COMMON METHOD. The squeeze test. This is technically not the "best" method of determining the correct soccer ball pressure, but many would argue that it's the most practical. This is what I witnessed as a coach every single time I observed referee check a ball before one of our soccer matches. Would this be acceptable for a World Cup soccer match? Perhaps not, but after a bit of experience with pumping up balls, you'll develop a sense what feels right, depending on game conditions and the type of soccer ball you have.

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how to properly inflate a soccer ball to the right pressure

By far the easiest way to initially pump up your soccer ball is to use a pump that has a built-in pressure gauge. I bought one of these when my oldest first started playing recreational soccer in our home town and it lasted many years before finally breaking down, maybe 15 years later.

Soccer ball foot air pumpUse the convenience of a pump-pressure gauge combo.

The biggest mistake coaches and parents make when inflating a soccer ball revolves around the needle. It should be lubricated first and then inserted at a direct angle toward the center of the ball. Failure to do this right might result in a damage to the soccer ball valve or internal bladder.

Here's a quick video with a few tips on inflating your soccer ball to the right pressure.

Converting BAR pressure to PSI soccer ball pressure

As a side bar (pun intended) you should know that soccer ball pressure can be stated with a BAR or psi number. Interestingly enough, BARs (and millibars) are used by meteorologists when they talk about air pressure and 1 BAR is about the same as normal atmospheric air pressure. Normal atmospheric pressure is 14.7psi.

For example: A soccer ball has a recommended pressure of 0.6 BAR labeled on it. To convert to psi pressure, multiply the BAR pressure by 15.5. The answer is 8.7 psi, which is at the bottom end of the range of correct pressures for a soccer ball.

how to DEFLATE a soccer ball

A bag of inflated soccer balls can take up a lot of space. You may need that valuable room in your garage for something else and want to reduce clutter during the off season. No, don't stab your ball with a knife. There is a proper way to deflate your soccer ball by letting out the air. Here is the 4-step method of deflating your soccer ball:

  1. Mosten the needle (with a lubricant other than your saliva)
  2. Carefully insert it into the ball, perpendicular to the ball's outer surface.
  3. Gently squeeze out all of the air until its shape resembles an empty bowl.
  4. Find a secure place to store your needle where it is protected and you won't lose it. There's nothing worse than having a flat soccer ball, a good working pump, but no needle to get the air into your ball.

You can deflate a soccer ball using other objects , but I cannot with good conscious recommend this method. It's so easy to damage the valve and then your ball is next to worthless. People have successfully deleted a soccer ball without a needle by using a paperclip and lubrication, but you're flirting with disaster.

are soccer balls filled with helium?

Soccer ball balloonsHelium filled soccer balloons

What are professional soccer balls filled with? There is an old myth that soccer balls are filled with helium. I had never heard that one until doing research to write this post.

Supposedly some people still believe this, but regular old breathable air is used. It's a mixture of nitrogen, oxygen,  and a few other trace elements. If helium were used to inflate soccer balls the process would be more complicated and add an unnecessary expense to playing soccer.

soccer ball air pressure and distance

You might be wondering how the pressure of a soccer ball affects the kicking distance as well as the control of the ball. The higher that the pressure is inside the ball the farther it will travel when kicked.

Here's the geeky explanation. When a ball is stiffer more of the energy from a child kicking it is moved into the ball. Softer balls, when kicked, lose more energy in the deformation of the ball's surface. How air pressure affects a kicked soccer ball travel would make a great science project for your young soccer players in your family. The best way to do this would be inflate your soccer ball to very still, slightly soft, and very soft pressure levels.

Keep it fun!

Coach Bruce Signature

Coach Bruce Lovelace started playing soccer in 1974 when, as a young boy, he constructed his own makeshift soccer goal. He played in high school, then intramurally in college and beyond. He started to coach his own children in the early 1990s and then ran a Soccer Shots franchise for 12 years. Now, Coach Bruce writes for the website. You can join in on Facebook.

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