A football is a ball inflated with air that is used to play one of the
various sports known as football. In these games, with some
exceptions, goals or points are scored only when the ball enters one
of two designated goal-scoring areas; football games involve the two
teams each trying to move the ball in opposite directions along the
field of play.
The first balls were made of natural materials, such as an inflated
pig bladder, later put inside a leather cover, which has given rise to
the American slang-term "pigskin". Modern balls are designed by teams
of engineers to exacting specifications, with rubber or plastic
bladders, and often with plastic covers. Various leagues and games use
different balls, though they all have one of the following basic
a sphere: used in
Association football and Gaelic football
a prolate spheroid
either with rounded ends: used in the rugby codes and Australian
or with more pointed ends: used in
American football and Canadian
The precise shape and construction of footballs is typically specified
as part of the rules and regulations.
The oldest football still in existence, which is thought to have been
made circa 1550, was discovered in the roof of Stirling Castle,
Scotland, in 1981. The ball is made of leather (possibly from a
deer) and a pig's bladder. It has a diameter of between
14–16 cm (5.5–6.3 in), weighs 125 g (4.4 oz)
and is currently on display at the Smith Art Gallery and Museum in
1 American and Canadian football
2 Association football
3 Australian rules football
4 Gaelic football
5 Rugby football
5.1 Rugby league
5.2 Rugby union
6 See also
9 External links
American and Canadian football
Main article: Ball (gridiron football)
In the United States and Canada, the term football usually refers to a
ball made of cow hide leather, which is required in professional and
collegiate football. Footballs used in recreation and in organized
youth leagues, may be made of rubber or plastic materials (the high
school football rulebooks still allow the inexpensive all-rubber
footballs, though they are less common than leather). Since 1941,
Wilson has been the exclusive supplier of leather for National
Football League footballs. The arrangement was established by
Arnold Horween, who had played and coached in the NFL. Horween
Leather Company also supplies leather to Spalding, supplier of balls
to the Arena
Leather panels are typically tanned to a natural brown color, which is
usually required in professional leagues and collegiate play. At least
one manufacturer uses leather that has been tanned to
provide a "tacky" grip in dry or wet conditions. Historically, white
footballs have been used in games played at night so that the ball can
be seen more easily; however, improved artificial
lighting conditions have made this no longer necessary. At most levels
of play (but not, notably, the NFL), white stripes are painted on each
end of the ball, halfway around the circumference, to improve
nighttime visibility and also to differentiate the college football
from the pro football. However, the
NFL once explored
the usage of white-striped footballs – in Super Bowl VIII.
In the CFL the stripes traverse the entire circumference of the ball.
The UFL used a ball with lime-green stripes. The
XFL used a novel
color pattern, a black ball with red curved lines in lieu of stripes,
for its footballs; this design was redone in a tan and navy color
scheme for the Arena
Football League in 2003. A ball with red, white
and blue panels was introduced in the American Indoor
in 2005 and used by its successors, as well as the Ultimate Indoor
Football League of the early 2010s and the Can-Am Indoor Football
League during its lone season in 2017.
Footballs used in gridiron-style games have prominent points on both
ends. The shape is generally credited to official Hugh "Shorty" Ray,
who introduced the new ball in 1934 as a way to make the forward pass
Main article: Ball (association football)
Law 2 of the game specifies that the ball is an air-filled sphere with
a circumference of 68–70 cm (27–28 in), a weight of
410–450 g (14–16 oz), inflated to a pressure of 0.6 to
1.1 atmospheres (60–111 kPa or 8.7–16.1 psi) "at
sea level", and covered in leather or "other suitable material".
The weight specified for a ball is the dry weight, as older balls
often became significantly heavier in the course of a match played in
wet weather. The standard ball is a Size 5, although smaller sizes
exist: Size 3 is standard for team handball and Size 4 in futsal and
other small-field variants. Other sizes are used in underage games or
as novelty items.
A truncated icosahedron (left) compared with an Association football.
Most modern Association footballs are stitched from 32 panels of
waterproofed leather or plastic: 12 regular pentagons and 20 regular
hexagons. The 32-panel configuration is the spherical polyhedron
corresponding to the truncated icosahedron; it is spherical because
the faces bulge from the pressure of the air inside. The first
32-panel ball was marketed by Select in the 1950s in Denmark. This
configuration became common throughout
Continental Europe in the
1960s, and was publicised worldwide by the Adidas Telstar, the
official ball of the 1970 World Cup.
The familiar 32-panel football design is sometimes referenced to
describe the truncated icosahedron Archimedean solid, carbon
buckyballs or the root structure of geodesic domes.
There are a number of different types of football balls depending on
the match and turf including: training footballs, match footballs,
professional match footballs, beach footballs, street footballs,
indoor footballs, turf balls, futsal footballs and mini/skills
Australian rules football
An Australian rules football.
The football used in Australian football is similar to a rugby ball
but generally slightly smaller and more rounded at the ends, but more
elongated in overall appearance, being longer by comparison with its
width than a rugby ball. A regulation football is 720–730
millimetres (28–29 in) in circumference, and 545–555 mm
(21.5–21.9 in) transverse circumference, and inflated to a
pressure of 62–76 kPa (9.0–11.0 psi). In the AFL, the
balls are red for day matches and yellow for night matches.
The first games of Australian football were played with a round ball,
because balls of that shape were more readily available. In 1860,
Australian football pioneer
Tom Wills argued that the oval rugby ball
travelled further in the air and made for a more exciting game. It
became customary in Australian football by the 1870s.
The Australian football ball was invented by T. W.
Sherrin in 1880,
after he was given a misshapen rugby ball to fix.
Sherrin designed the
ball with indented rather than pointy ends to give the ball a better
Australian football ball brands include Burley, Ross Faulkner, and
Sherrin (the brand used by the Australian
Football (Gaelic football)
Main article: Rugby ball
Richard Lindon in 1880, with two Rugby balls.
Until 1870, rugby was played with a near spherical ball with an
inner-tube made of a pig's bladder. In 1870
Richard Lindon and
Bernardo Solano started making balls for Rugby school out of hand
stitched, four-panel, leather casings and pigs’ bladders. The rugby
ball's distinctive shape is supposedly due to the pig’s bladder,
although early balls were more plum-shape than oval. The balls varied
in size in the beginning depending upon how large the pig’s bladder
was. Because of the pliability of rubber the shape gradually
changed from a sphere to an egg. In 1892 the RFU endorsed ovalness as
the compulsory shape. The gradual flattening of the ball continued
over the years. The introduction of synthetic footballs over the
traditional leather balls, in both rugby codes, was originally
governed by weather conditions. If the playing surface was wet, the
synthetic ball was used, because it wouldn't absorb water and become
heavy. Eventually, the leather balls were phased out completely.
Steeden football as used in rugby league.
Rugby league is played with a prolate spheroid shaped football which
is inflated with air. A referee will stop play immediately if the
ball does not meet the requirements of size and shape.
Traditionally made of brown leather, modern footballs are synthetic
and manufactured in a variety of colours and patterns. Senior
competitions should use light-coloured balls to allow spectators to
see the ball more easily. The football used in rugby league is
known as "international size" or "size 5" and is approximately
27 cm (11 in) long and 60 cm (24 in) in
circumference at its widest point. Smaller-sized balls are used for
junior versions of the game, such as "Mini" and "Mod". A full size
ball weighs between 383 and 440 g (13.5 and 15.5 oz). Rugby
league footballs are slightly more pointed than rugby union footballs
and larger than American footballs.
National Rugby League
National Rugby League and European
Super League use
balls made by Steeden.
Steeden is also sometimes used in Australia as
a noun to describe the ball itself.
A Gilbert rugby football as used in rugby union.
The ball used in rugby union, usually referred to as a rugby ball, is
a prolate spheroid essentially elliptical in profile. Traditionally
made of brown leather, modern footballs are manufactured in a variety
of colours, patterns. A regulation football is 28–30 cm
(11–12 in) long and 58–62 cm (23–24 in) in
circumference at its widest point. It weighs 410–460 g
(14–16 oz) and is inflated to 65.7–68.8 kPa
In 1980, leather-encased balls, which were prone to water-logging,
were replaced with balls encased in synthetic waterproof
Gilbert Synergie was the match ball of the 2007
Rugby World Cup.
List of inflatable manufactured goods
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2009. Archived from the original on 12 July 2011. Retrieved 30 May
^ "Oldest football to take cup trip". BBC News. 25 April 2006.
Retrieved 2 May 2010.
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^ John Maxymuk (2012).
NFL Head Coaches: A Biographical Dictionary,
1920–2011. McFarland. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
^ Barbara Rolek (27 October 2003). "Horween's leather bound by
tradition". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
^ Horween Leather Company. encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 26 March
^ Kerry Byrne. "'The Duke' is back!" (subtitle - "The white
stripes")". Coldhardfootballfacts.com. Archived from the original on 7
March 2014. Retrieved 3 August 2006.
^ Seymour Smith (September 14, 1966). "Pro
Football To Honor Ray:
Rules Advisor's Ideas Gave Game Needed Boost". The Sun (Baltimore).
^ "Laws of the Game". FIFA. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
^ Soccer Balls, Soccer, 2013-10-14. Retrieved: 2013-10-14.
^ Flanagan, Martin. "Why
Tom Wills is an Australian legend like Ned
Kelly", Australian Football. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
^ Simon Hawkesley. Official
Richard Lindon Site. Retrieved 7 August
^ a b Blood, mud and aftershave in
The Observer Sunday 5 February
2006, Section B is for Ball by Oliver Price
^ a b c RLIF (2004). "Section 3: The ball" (PDF). The International
Laws of the Game and Notes on the Laws. Rugby League International
Federation. p. 8. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 January
2010. Retrieved 30 July 2008.
^ "Rugby Union: Law 2 – The ball". Web.archive.org. 15 January 2007.
Archived from the original on 15 January 2007. Retrieved 30 May
Angela Royston, 2005. How Is a Soccer Ball Made? Heinemann.
Football BALL Website
Ki-o-Rahi history and rules
Paper model truncated icosahedron (association football ball)
Popular Mechanics article on
American football manufacturing process