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Question Number: 28227
Law 2 - The Ball 3/2/2014
RE: competetive High School
Erick Matthews of Clovis, CA United States asks...
I'm doing a science fair project on if the amount of air pressure in a soccer ball matter how far it can be kicked.
Is there an official rule that requires a referee to check the soccer ball with a gauge?
Is checked the pressure with your hands official?
Do you know if it is checked at the professional soccer level?
Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright
The Laws Of The Game don't instruct referees on how to check pressure, but require the ball to have a pressure within a certain range.
The thumb test is highly inaccurate, so the only reliable way to measure pressure is with a gauge. Start measuring with a gauge and you may well find that even the minimum pressure is what you would have considered overinflated with the thumb test - I was very surprised at just how firm the ball has to be.
Having said that I've done the thumb test for years without a problem, but these days I use a gauge.
I would anticipate that gauges are used at the professional level. There's simply no excuse not to at these levels.
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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh
As you know Law 2 sets out the qualities and measurements of the ball. It does not set out how that should be done. At lower levels of the game most referees use the 'thumb test' which gives a 'rough' guide to proper inflation of the ball. To do it correctly a gauge must be used.
Now at the pro level a guage is used all the time as it is one of the duties of the 4th official and he will check all the balls before play begins. As one starts to come down the soccer game pyramid the 'thumb' test is used more regularly . If there are complaints about ball pressure on the field of play all referees use the 'thumb test' to make a judgement. It is always requested on the under-inflation never on over inflation.
I use a pressure gauge but to be honest I only use it when I'm unsure or in higher level games. At other times I do the 'thumb test' and from time to time I check my 'assessment' to see if I am accurate or not. I find that I'm never far away from the range and certainly never enough for it to be noticeable to the teams.
I would also point out that in most lower level games the balls are provided by the clubs. The referee might start with the match ball which he can check but very quickly that could be replaced by one of a number of other match balls. Those additional balls may not have been made available to the referee before kick off to be checked and my experience is that those do cause problems.
I would also point out that in competitions like the World Cup representatives of the official ball manufacturer will be present to ensure that its ball meets the required standard. You can be sure that they will check the proper inflation of the balls before giving them to the match officials and that the balls perform as expected. Proper inflation is key to performance of the ball
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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham
Law 2 sets a range for the ball's pressure 'equal to 0.6 - 1.1 atmosphere (600 - 1,100 g/cm2) at sea level (8.5 lbs/sq in - 15.6 lbs/sq in).'
All referees should check the pressure of the ball, but not all use a gauge. Pressure checked by the hands is common. At higher levels, there are lots of balls to check, but the teams often prefer a very hard ball (which is easier to bend). At amateur levels, most balls have too little pressure.
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