How to Deflate a Soccer Ball (The Complete Guide)

If you’ve played soccer for some time, then you’re likely to be aware that soccer balls occasionally need to be deflated.

This could be for the purpose of transportation, where a deflated ball can fit snugly within a backpack or another piece of luggage, as opposed to one that’s pumped up to the maximum.

Now I won’t dig up all the reasons for deflating a soccer ball right at this stage, because I want to take this opportunity to explain how a soccer ball should be deflated first!

So, let’s take a look at the most popular methods – in descending order of recommendation – for deflating one of our favourite pieces of soccer gear.

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Deflating a soccer ball with a pump and an inflation needle

The best way to remove air pressure from your soccer ball is through the use of a hand pump and an accompanying inflation needle.

You see, using these two pieces of equipment allows for air to be released from the ball gradually and evenly, without causing damage to the ball’s internal bladder.

I’ll now document the sequence that you should follow when deflating your soccer ball in this way.


Step 1 – Identify the location of the ball’s valve opening

soccer ball deflation - identify valve opening

The valve opening is the starting point for the deflation process.

If you look carefully across the entire outer surface of your soccer ball, you will notice the presence of a tiny hole that is typically situated on the bottom side of the spherical object.

This small perforation is made of strong silicone material which helps to keep the structure of the ball intact.

Any other sort of piercing inflicted on the surface would simply result in the ball losing air.

Once you’ve been able to pinpoint the valve opening on your ball, and verified the absence of any pieces of debris or dirt that could obstruct this valve, then you’re good to move on to the next step.


Step 2 – Moisten the inflation needle

Alright, now that you’ve got the valve opening ready, you need to lubricate the inflation needle that you will insert into the soccer ball.

Why should this be done, you ask?

Well, the valve opening of a soccer ball is very delicate and any sort of abrasion could at the inflation or deflation stage may result in damage to the structural integrity of the object.

Lubrication is so important here as it allows the needle to be inserted into the valve and removed from it as smoothly as possible.

You can make use of either silicone or glycerine oil here, by placing a few drops of this liquid onto the tip of the needle as well as in and around the valve area.

However, if you don’t have this specialised oil to hand, you can also make use of coconut oil as an alternative.


Step 3 – Steadily insert the needle into the valve

soccer ball deflation - insert inflation needle

Once the needle has been moistened, you can then insert it carefully into the valve.

Because precision at this stage is of utmost importance, you will usually be better off using your dominant hand for this.

So, if you are right-handed, take control of the needle with your right hand and use your left hand to limit the movement of the soccer ball as you begin this process.

After the needle has arrived at the bladder lining, you should start to hear a faint hissing sound, which is the signal for the air being correctly released from the soccer ball.


Step 4 – Gently squeeze the soccer ball to let the air out

soccer ball deflation - gentle squeeze

This step is actually an optional one but I feel like it is still worth mentioning.

If you want to hasten the deflation process, you can squeeze the sides of the soccer ball to let air come out at a faster rate.

It’s easier to do this if you have a friend with you, as they can perform the squeeze whilst you continue to hold the needle in place with your dominant hand.

But be careful not to press on the ball with a lot of intensity, as doing this forces the air out of the ball too quickly and that in itself may lead to damage of the internal bladder.

So, if you’ve got a friend with you, encourage them to take a gentle approach by squeezing the ball at intervals to make sure that the air seeps out gradually.

And as your friend performs this task, make sure that you maintain the needle’s vertical position relative to the valve opening, as you want to deflate the ball without changing its angle.


Step 5 – Remove the inflation needle

If you’ve come this far down the article, the soccer ball should now be flat enough for your liking.

At this point, you simply pull the needle slowly out of the valve to complete a job well done!

Having broken the overall process down into an easily digestible format, I thought it would also be great if I showcased the sequence with video footage so that you can see how the deflation process happens from a continuous clip.

Take a look below:


Deflating a soccer ball without a needle

Sometimes, you may not have an inflation needle to hand when you have to deflate your soccer ball.

This requires further ingenuity on your part, as you have to make use of any tools currently available at your disposal.

When it comes to deflating a soccer ball without a needle, you have a couple of options.

I’ll cover each one in turn.


Deflating a soccer ball with a paperclip or a ball point pen

You can probably be able to scrounge around the house for either of these items.

They’re great substitutes if you don’t have a needle because their shapes are almost identical, which allows them to perform the role of the needle in its absence.

So, you’ve got a simplified process here is as follows:


Step 1 – Straighten the paperclip

Because a paperclip’s original form is u-shaped, you will have to adjust its structure so that you can be able to replicate the needle.

So, straighten it out as much as possible whilst paying close attention to any bends on the clip, as those are weak points that could break if you aren’t careful enough.


Step 2 – Moisten the paperclip

Once you have straightened it to your satisfaction, the next step involves basic lubrication.

You can use water, coconut oil or even your own saliva if you don’t have silicone or glycerine oil available.


Step 3 – Insert the paperclip into the valve

The final step involves gently pushing the paper clip through the valve area of the soccer ball.

Although, you have to take much more care here because the surface area of a paper clip is much smaller than an inflation needle.

Due to the inverse correlation between surface area and the force that an object is able to exert as a result of that area, a paperclip has a much higher likelihood of piercing through the bladder if you’re not observant or careful enough when initiating the deflation exercise.

So, you may want to equip yourself with a pair of gloves as this can give you greater grip and control over how you hold the paperclip in place.

If you are using a ball point pen for this process, then your work is much easier.

All you need to do is ensure lubrication of the tip of the pen, and that the thickness of that tip doesn’t exceed the diameter of the ball’s valve opening.

After all those steps are ticked off, the soccer ball should begin to deflate.


Deflating a soccer ball in a refrigerator

Now this is quite an unconventional way of deflating a soccer ball and I would personally only use it as a last resort.

The downsides of this method include the fact that it takes a lot more preparation work and time to pull off successfully.

But it’s still relatively straightforward to execute.

Here’s what you need to do in case you wish to try this procedure.


Step 1 – Clean the soccer ball thoroughly

First and foremost, you need to clean your soccer ball before you can place it within your fridge that typically holds all sorts of food and drinks.

The last thing you want is to contaminate other items within the refrigerator, so you will want to clean it to give yourself the best possible springboard for performing this deflation procedure without any hitch.


Step 2 – Open the fridge door and create space for the soccer ball

The next phase involves shifting the location of other fridge items to the higher shelves and compartments.

You will want your soccer ball to have a nice solid base to rest upon within the refrigerator, and that will mean moving your eggs, juices, vegetables and fruits to other areas.

Once you’ve vacated enough space, you can place a soft cloth or towel in that area and put the ball on top of it.


Step 3 – Close the fridge door and wait

Scientific principles tell us that air molecules contract under cold conditions, so once you keep the soccer ball within that fridge for a decent amount of time, it will gradually deflate.

Overall, this method does have quite a significant drawback.

Because once you remove the soccer ball from the fridge, the air pressure within it will begin to increase as the ball’s temperature rises back to normal levels.

Although the ball will still not have as much air than it would have had if it wasn’t inserted into the fridge in the first place.


What are some precautions to bear in mind before deflating a soccer ball?

This process needs a lot of care because of the delicacies of a soccer ball’s internal components.

You would probably be quite gutted if you ended up damaging your ball whilst deflating it, so here’s a couple of things that you need to take into consideration before you begin.


Valve lubrication

You want to avoid damaging the internal bladder, and the best way of going about this is to lubricate the valve opening before you start removing any air.

If you have a needle, make sure that is moist enough as well, because if there’s too much friction upon insertion, you could end up tearing the inner lining and that can cause air to escape.


Release the air slowly and evenly

This process needs to be done slowly, and not abruptly.

You’re not trying to burst a balloon here!

All you want to accomplish is letting out a good amount of air so that you can keep the ball in a safe enough state when you aren’t using it.

So, don’t squeeze too hard on the outer surface of the ball when you’re letting the air out.


Why should you deflate a soccer ball?

Before I wrap things up, I also want to leave you with a couple of reasons why deflating a soccer ball is a good practice.

Here goes…



An excess of air pressure is definitely not good for the overall longevity of a soccer ball.

That’s a big factor as to why deflating it back to the recommended soccer ball pressure levels is necessary.

More so, an over-inflated ball makes gameplay more strenuous, especially for young children who may struggle to kick a soccer ball that feels really hard like a rock.

Not only is kicking more difficult with such a ball, as dribbling and touch control are other issues that arise out of this.

By reducing the amount of air inside, you make the ball softer and that ultimately enhances the playing experience and makes leisure activities with this product much more enjoyable.


Easy storage and transportation

Certain situations require players to store their soccer balls away for use at a later date.

By deflating soccer balls, they become more compact and take up a lot less room.

That in itself allows them to be easily tucked away within a kit bag or a soccer ball bag, and they can then be easily transported to another destination in that deflated state.


Final thoughts

Finally, before you go, you should check out our eBook on Soccer Ball Care.

Within this monster of a resource, we tackle all there is to know about looking after a soccer ball and maximising its useful life right from when you purchase this type of product.

This eBook covers a plethora of different topics, such as:

  • soccer ball construction;
  • inflation and pressure management;
  • cleaning and maintenance;
  • soccer ball storage; and
  • how to extend the useful life of your ball

In just a couple of hours, you’ll have more knowledge on what is good and bad for your soccer ball than you could ever fathom!

You’ll learn how to inflate your soccer ball to the correct level of air pressure based on the size of ball you have, as well as know how to clean and store your soccer ball properly after games.

But I don’t think there’s anything better than being able to effectively troubleshoot problems with your soccer ball and fix them yourself!

So, you can finally take care of your soccer ball for many months to come, which without a doubt will save you time and money as won’t be searching for and buying a replacement any time soon.

With just one click…

Grab yourself a copy right now for only $29!

Samuel Waihenya
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