Soccer ball Encyclopedia
Bladders: Latex or Synthetic Material
The bladder has a major influence on the ball’s playing qualities. It is the heart of the ball and gives it its bounce. While many manufacturers use butyl or other synthetic bladders, SELECT prefers to use proper latex, a natural product that comes from trees.
Butyl hardly lets out any air, whereas latex does (gradually). This means that a latex ball needs to pumped up more often, roughly once a week. But latex has much more liveliness, elasticity and bounce than synthetic materials, and unlike some synthetic materials, it retains its shape even when it is stretched and treated roughly. We are so demanding when it comes to bladders that we make them in our own factory. Each bladder is pumped up and tested for balance before it is inserted in a SELECT ball.
Foam is integrated as part of some of the outer materials used by SELECT and by other manufacturers. But SELECT never uses a separate foam layer as lining, like some manufacturers do, to make the balls seem softer. We think that the foam is squashed out when the ball is kicked, which will temporarily upset the ball’s balance, thereby ruining the perfect flight and ball control. Foam also absorbs water if it penetrates the surface after a lengthy period of use. Remember that even the slightest imbalance will make the ball’s flight uneven. Just ask any free-kick specialist.
Hand-Stitched vs. Machine Stitched vs. Glue (Thermobonding)
– provides for deeper seams that are consistent and protected. This greatly enhances the playability and durability of the outer layer of the ball.
– very quick and inexpensive method typically used for low end balls. Seems are consistent but completely exposed. Exposed seams will stretch and eventually tear. Outer panels seem to cave in as seems stretch under stress.
– process through which a machine heats and presses panels onto a mold. Panel seems are very small. Glue can break down from elemental stresses, causing panels to peel off or become distorted.
Lining Materials and Layers
Manufacturers use different types of lining materials to support the ball’s outermost layer, usually made of polyester in different quantities. Some manufacturers claim that the more lining layers are used, the better the ball.
SELECT looks at this issue in a totally different way. As all balls need to keep within certain weight limits, we believe that the more layers of (cheap) polyester you use, the less room you will have for better materials like PU. So, our top ball Brilliant Super has the fewest layers of lining in our entire range of balls. We prefer to add the extra weight with a thicker top-quality PU layer instead.
PU vs. PVC
PU is the abbreviation for Polyurethane. PVC is the abbreviation for Polyvinylchloride.
Nowadays the vast majority of soccer balls, including the very best, are made from synthetic materials and not real leather. Most companies use polyurethane (PU) for the outer layer of their top balls. Polyvinylchloride (PVC) is used as the outer material for cheaper balls, but it is a less durable synthetic material. When compared with PVC balls, PU balls are softer, more like leather, while they also have better playing qualities and are not affected by cold weather. But not all PU balls are the same. In general, the thicker the PU layer, the better the playing qualities and touch. SELECT's Pro series balls have the thickest PU layer in our range.