Originally posted by Fitbafan at the TeamSport90 Community Forum.
Caring for your new football sounds like something that should be quite straight forward. It can be, however to get the most out of your new football you might want to consider some of the guidance that Pumpherston United FC have built into their weekly schedule.
Playing surface: First of all it's important to only ever use the football you purchased on the surface it was designed to be used on. Amongst others, there are footballs for grass, astro turf, and hard smooth surfaces (such as wooden indoor pitches). Surfaces such as concrete, asphalt or gravel should be avoided with any football. These surfaces can damage the surface of your football and quickly shorten it's lifespan. Bouncing a ball off a wall or concrete type surface will also affect the ball's shape and will result in your football becoming warped.
Pressure and inflation: Most footballs supplied as new will tell you how much pressure to use when inflating the ball in either BAR or P.S.I. The pressure guide information is usually printed around the valve or within the instructions for inflating. Make sure you inflate the ball within the range advised to ensure optimal performance. For older footballs where the information has worn off or has been lost, the following pressure ratings should be sufficient:
- Size 5 0.8 - 1.0 BAR
- Size 4 0.7 - 0.8 BAR
- Size 3 0.5 - 0.7 BAR
Remember, most footballs lose pressure over time no matter how well they're cared for. Keep checking the pressure of your football to ensure you get the best from it. Best practice is to check the pressure of your football before you intend to use it.
When inflating your football always use a pump with a low pressure gauge and a long needle specifically designed for use with a football pump. When inflating the ball from flat (and certainly from new) roll the ball or manipulate the ball to remove the biggest folds. Tap the ball to loosen the inner tube (bladder) from the outer layer. Turn the football so that the valve is uppermost, this way the inner tube will hang directly underneath the valve inside the ball, reducing the risk of damage to the inner tube by pinching it with the end of the needle. Moisten the valve and the needle with lubricant (you can use specially designed valve products, normally either silicone or glycerin sprays, if you prefer you can use a tiny bit of washing-up liquid). Always ensure that you only ever inflate the ball to the manufacturer's recommended pressure.
A top tip is to use your football pump to slightly deflate the ball after use, not too much though as you don't want folds or creases to appear. Deflating the ball slightly reduces the strain on the seams or stitching and helps to prolong the football's durability.
Cleaning: First of all remove any clumps of mud from the ball by picking it off or using a dripping wet cloth. Be careful not to scrape the ball if the mud is gritty. When the ball is free from large concentrations of mud wipe the ball over with a clean damp cloth. You can use mild detergents if required, there are also some very good leather cleaners that are available too. Never use abrasive cleaners or cleaners designed for powerful domestic or industrial cleaning as these can cause all sorts of damage to the football including deterioration of the stitching, outer layer and inner tube. If using running water only use low pressure water. High pressure water such as that from a pressure washer can penetrate the ball directly or via seams which in turn can affect the weight and balance of the ball, as well as causing damage to the inside of the outer layer and stitching.
Storing: Before storing your new football dry it off with a dry clean cloth. Store the football in a dry place where moving air or drafts can be beneficial by helping to remove any remaining moisture. Avoid storing the football on direct heat, for example on a radiator. Placing a damp football on a radiator or in a similar environment can result in shrinkage and cracking of the surface of the ball. If using a specifically designed football bag for storage, choose a bag with a ventilation panel and ensure that all of the footballs placed within the bag have been dried off first.
Damaged footballs: Caring for your football can effectively give you years of use out of your new product however, if it does become damaged all is not lost. If you suspect that your football is punctured or leaking there are ways of repairing these leaks. First of all check to see what the extent of the damage is by immersing the football in a bucket of water. If air bubbles stream from the centre of the valve then your valve is faulty. If by turning the ball underwater you come across a small steady stream of air bubbles then you have a small puncture. Both of these faults can be repaired using football repair kits which normally include replacement valves and leak repair solutions (solutions that are injected into the ball through the valve, sealing it from the inside much like modern tyre repair kits). If you inflate the ball and you can hear air coming out of it or if there are visible holes in the ball, it is unlikely that the repair solution would work and a replacement football would be your next step. You would always need to consider the cost of the repair kits against the cost of a new football.
You should never sit or stand on your football and as this can cause the football to become warped or mis-shaped. As mentioned earlier, repeatedly bouncing the football off of a hard surface such as a wall or asphalt can also cause this problem. There are no proven tactics to returning a football to it's original shape. You can try deflating the ball, manipulating it between your hands and then inflating it again, results can vary. Many modern footballs come with a guarantee on the ball holding it's shape. If your football has become warped within this period then you may be in a position to return the ball. This does depend on whether you've treated the ball as expected though. If the ball shows signs of misuse then the defective shape may be down to the misuse rather than any kind of manufacturing fault in which case a replacement from the retailer or manufacturer would be unlikely. In regards to warped footballs prevention through good care of the ball is the best course of action.
I hope that some of this information helps you to get many years of enjoyment from your football.