Soccer Ball Construction

Your choice for the cover of the soccer ball depends on how much you want to spend and your level of skill.

The number of panels -- the segments that make up the outside of the ball -- varies for each design. A 32-panel ball is the most common and is the type used in most professional matches. Other traditional designs are 18 and 26-panel constructions, used in various professional leagues, including Major League Soccer. Fewer panels generally means the ball can be curved more when kicked because of less stability to the cover. Panels can be either stitched or glued:

Linings are inserted between the cover/panels and the bladder to provide shape, feel, control and structure. Higher end balls usually have four layers of polyester and cotton lining for superior shape retention and durability. Mid-level balls generally are comprised of two or three layers of cotton and two layers of polyester. Lower-priced balls generally are constructed of two layers of polyester.

The bladder is the inside part of the ball that is filled with air. Most balls use butyl valves for air retention, with higher end balls using a silicone-treated valve for superior performance. Don't forget to buy a small pump and some needles to keep your ball inflated. There are two basic types of bladders: