I recently had the privilege to interview Zach Jonker and ask him a few questions about soccer balls. Zach and his buddy Mike Atchison run a custom soccer ball company in Petosky, Michigan called Bounce Athletics. What these guys do is really awesome.
Ethan: Tell us about Bounce Athletics.
Zach: Bounce Athletics is a Michigan based custom soccer ball and training vest supplier that is fully committed to giving back to the game we love. We offer camp/rec, training, and competition balls. All of our balls and vests can be fully customized using our beautiful designs with your organization’s logo. We also offer skill balls and stock training balls and futsal balls.
Ethan: There are different qualities of soccer balls. Talk to us about the different types.
Zach: When talking about ball quality the first thing you look at is the outer cover of the ball. The best hand-stitched training and match balls are made from different types of Polyurethane (PU). Recreational level hand stitched balls are made from PVC. PVC is more durable, but much less supple and responsive. Machine stitched balls have become a popular low cost alternative within the past few years. Most of these balls are made from a TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane). This material tends to be very sticky, especially in humid weather, which makes technical training difficult. Layers of polyester, cotton, or foam (or a combination thereof) are adhered to the back of the outer cover to provide cushion.
Inside this shell sits the bladder.
Zach: Soccer balls feature either a butyl or latex bladder. Top level training and match balls all have a latex bladder as it is more elastic and responsive. This helps the ball explode off the foot. Latex is a rather porous material though. This is why you need to re-inflate top level balls once a week. Butyl bladders are not as elastic and a bit heavier, but they are much less porous. Good butyl bladders will hold air for most of the season which is very convenient for the coach and player. It really depends on your preference. If you are more performance oriented and don’t mind pumping up your training balls weekly we recommend latex. For younger travel players and recreational level players we recommend butyl bladders. Futsal balls have foam injected into a buytl bladder to provide a dead bounce effect.
Ethan: How does the quality of the ball influence a soccer game?
Zach: The quality of the ball plays a huge factor in any match. The best match balls include only the highest grade PU backed by polyester and micro foam with a latex bladder. They should explode off the foot so proper air pressure is also important. A poor quality or under inflated ball can really impact the game in a negative manner. Typically a poor quality ball takes away any technical advantages one team may have and favors a the lesser skilled team. The best balls in the world all meet FIFA’s most exacting standards. Visit http://footballs.fifa.com/ for more details.
Big thanks to Zach for the time & insight. Bounce is partnered with Charity Ball and gives 5% of their total sales to help us get kids in poverty-stricken communities new soccer balls. For More information visit Bounce online.