The sport of football has one of the biggest audiences on earth. Footballers enjoy a glamourous lifestyle, are among some of the highest paid professionals and there’s endless drama to keep us all hooked. But have you ever stopped to consider the ball that’s being kicked around? Probably not, but here we look at a little of the history surrounding the ball itself:
The ball that we see in play today is quite a recent adaptation. It seems that humans have always liked kicking stuff around as historical evidence shows us that ancient civilisations such as the Chinese, Romans, Egyptians and South Americans played games with balls made from stitched cloth, animal bladders and even human heads!
The birth of the modern football is thanks to a chap called Charles Goodyear. And yes, this is the same chap who put his name to Goodyear tyres.
Charles Goodyear had a patent put on his invention of vulcanised rubber in 1836. He made the very first rubber football in 1855. Before that, footballs were being made from the bladders of pigs. This was very hit and miss as the size, shape and bounciness of the ball depending on the pig it came from! This led to very unpredictable behaviour from the balls. Imagine trying to perfect your Football and Soccer Training drills using one of these!
However, it wouldn’t be until the 20th century that cow and pig bladders were replaced with vulcanised rubber.
When did rules over size and weight come into force?
In 1863, the English Football Association was formed but it would take a further 9 years for a specified and standard rule over size and weight for a football.
By 1872, new rules stated that a ball must be spherical in shape, and an outer part measuring at least 27 inches and maximum of 28 inches in circumference. A minimum weight of 13 pounds but no more than 15 pounds was also put into effect. This was later amended in 1937 to minimum of 14 and maximum of 16 pounds.
Not much has changed since regarding the size and weight of the ball, but what mass production has led to changes in what the ball is made from and the panel’s shape.
Some of the first mass producers included Thomlinson and Mitre. Footballs were now being manufactured using various interlocking panels instead of a single sheet of leather stitched at either end. Balls made using panels were also closer to the spherical shape they should be. Thankfully, this should make your Football and Soccer Training drills much easier.
Even today, new technology is applied to try to make faster, more aerodynamic and accurate footballs, with a tougher exterior but that still feels soft. The aim has always been to make goal scoring more effective.