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Soccer Ball Vs Volleyball – 11 Key Differences

Soccer balls and volleyballs are both spherical sports balls used in popular games around the world. But they are engineered very differently to serve their distinct gameplay purposes. **Here are 11 ways soccer balls and volleyballs differ:

  • Weight – Soccer balls are heavier
  • Size – Volleyballs are bigger
  • Bounce – Soccer balls bounce higher
  • Materials – Soccer uses leather or synthetics, volleyballsComposite leather
  • Bladder – Soccer is latex, volleyball butyl rubber
  • Pressure – Soccer 8-16 psi, volleyball 4-6 psi
  • Shape – Soccer more rounded, volleyball wider horizontal diameter
  • Dimples – Soccer has none, volleyball has small shallow ones
  • Color – Soccer multi colors, volleyball solid colors w outlines
  • Usage – Soccer contact play, volleyball no contact
  • Game skills – Soccer ball control, volleyball explosive power

In this article, we’ll explore these differences in depth and see how the balls are optimized for their sports.

Man diving to make a stop during a volleyball game

Difference in Weight

The most noticeable difference is the weight. Soccer balls weigh between 14 to 16 ounces, to allow accurate kicking and head passes over distance. Volleyballs are much lighter at 9 to 10 ounces.

The heavier soccer ball maintains momentum when struck solidly by the foot or head. You can really drive passes downfield to a sprinting teammate. Volleyballs are lighter for prolonged volleys and explosive upward spikes. I love blasting soccer crosses but can’t imagine heading a volleyball without getting my bell rung!

Difference in Size

Volleyballs have the size advantage, which aids their high arc passes and downward spikes. Official volleyballs have a diameter between 8.15 to 8.25 inches. This maximizes the surface area for bumps, sets, and digs.

Soccer balls are smaller, between 8.0 to 8.25 inches. The more compact size helps keep ground passes crisp and low. A size 5 ball is ideal for adult professional play. Lighter mini soccer balls start around size 3 for young kids.

So volleyballs are 5 to 10% bigger – every inch counts for those high floaters across the net!

Difference in Bounce

The bounce profile is tailored for each sport:

  • Soccer balls have a lively, high bounce off grass or hard ground. This keeps upfield passes from dying or skimming unpredictably. A crisp bounce aids trapping, juggling dribbling.
  • Volleyballs have a softer, flatter bounce on wood or indoor courts. This prevents crazy erratic rebounds during rallies. Some outdoor volleyballs have a bit higher bounce. But in general, volleyballs absorb impact to keep things controlled.

Bounce engineering matches the field of play. Volleyball courts don’t need soccer’s high-flying passes and juggling.

Materials Used

Not surprisingly, the materials used in each ball’s construction differ:

  • Soccer balls traditionally used leather panels stitched together around an inner bladder. Today most balls substitute synthetic leathers and textured polyurethane for durability and water resistance.
  • Volleyballs require soft synthetic composite leather feels. This “leather” exterior bonded over foam gives just the right tactile grip and flexibility for bumps and digs. Indoor volleyballs are softer than beach outdoor balls.
  • Both sport balls use butyl rubber bladders to retain air pressure. But soccer ball latex liners improve rebound, while volleyball bladders focus on shape retention.

Materials science gives each ball the desired handling and performance athletes demand.

History of Both Balls

Let’s look back at the history and origins of each ball:

Soccer Balls

  • Ancient times – Animal hide and stomach casings stuffed with hay or grass used.
  • Middle Ages – Inflated pig bladders encased in leather become common.
  • 1855 – Vulcanized rubber bladders introduced.
  • Early 1900s – Leather or heavy canvas panels stitched together as standard.
  • 1960s – Synthetic leather balls gain traction, replacing leather.
  • 2000s – Thermally molded balls with synthetic surfaces as norm.


  • Late 1800s – Early volleyballs made from a stitched pig bladder wrapped in leather.
  • 1900s – Rubber bladders with composite leather covers emerge as standard.
  • 1970s – Synthetic “leather” surfaces over softer sponge layers developed.
  • 2000s – Microfiber composite covers gain popularity for indoor and beach play.

Speed They Travel

Kicked soccer balls can zip faster than spiked volleyballs:

  • Soccer balls: 70+ mph when struck solidly. World record is around 130 mph.
  • Volleyballs: 50 to 80 mph for spikes. 112 mph is current world record speed.

Soccer’s heavier and harder-surfaced balls compress and rebound efficiently off the foot for speed. Volleyballs are lighter with more dampened responses.

But volleyball spikers can whip down incredible momentum on jumps for sizzling spikes. Soccer’s air game is weaker – even pros won’t head balls over 70 mph.

How Fast is a Serve?

Volleyball serves can be ferocious, but soccer throws and goal kicks peak higher:

  • Volleyball serve speeds average 70 to 80 mph for men, 50 to 60 mph for women at elite levels. Fastest recorded serve is 111 mph.
  • Soccer throws can reach 60 to 80 mph, with soccer kicks into the 90s. The world record soccer throw-in is 105 mph.

So while volleyball serves have amazing velocity, soccer throws and goalie punts can edge them out velocity-wise by a hair. But volleyball servers have much more accuracy on their laser-targeted shots.

What is the World Record Speed of both?

Here are the verified world speed records for a soccer ball and volleyball:

  • Soccer ball: 131.7 mph – kick by Ronan O’Faelain in 2018.
  • Volleyball: 112 mph – serve by Emanuel Rego, Brazil in 2013.

These records required perfect timing on specialized radar equipment. During actual gameplay, speeds are far lower but still impressive!

How both compare to balls from other sports

Comparing ball speeds across sports:

  • Baseball: 100+ mph batted, 90-100 mph pitched
  • Golf ball: 130-180 mph with driver
  • Tennis ball: 130-150+ mph serve
  • Soccer ball: 70-80 mph kicks, up to 130 mph
  • Volleyball: 70-80 mph spikes, up to 112 mph
  • Basketball: 50 mph throws/shots
  • Football throws: 55 mph

So soccer and volleyball speeds are middling but influenced by constant action. Peak baseball and golf ball shots clock higher on radar guns.

The best makes of balls for either sport

For soccer, Nike, Adidas, Puma, and Select make excellent match and training balls:

  • Nike Premier League – Excellent durability, touch, and aerodynamics. Multiple sizes.
  • Adidas Major League Soccer – MLS official ball. Iconic stylized design. Thermal bonded.
  • Puma One – Top notch feel and cushioning. Ideal for passing drills.
  • Select Numero 10 – Affordable high performing ball. Different size/color options.

For volleyball, top recreational and Olympic brands are Wilson, Mikasa, and Molten:

  • Wilson Official Outdoor Game Volleyball – Classic leather composite design. Designed for beach/grass.
  • Mikasa V200W – FIVB approved. Durable premium synthetic leather. Indoor use.
  • Molten FLISTATEC – Superb responsiveness and handling. Softer feel.

There are certainly other quality manufacturers, but these brands stand out for quality and performance.

Best ways to store or maintain the balls

To maximize longevity of each ball:

Soccer Balls

  • Inflate to the recommended pressure (8-12 psi typically).
  • Check pressure monthly if used frequently, add air as needed.
  • Store at room temperature away from direct heat or cold.
  • Gently wipe dirt off the ball with damp cloth, air dry.


  • Maintain proper inflation around 4-6 psi. Add air if flat.
  • Keep indoor volleyballs inside, do not leave out in weather extremes.
  • Rotate two or more volleyballs to allow recovered shape.
  • Wipe with damp cloth after use, allow to fully air dry before storing.

Proper inflation and storage makes a big difference in ball lifespan and performance.

How a new one compares to an older one

New technology gives modern soccer balls and volleyballs noticeable performance benefits:

  • Synthetic leathers and composite covers are much more durable than old leather soccer balls. They retain shape and texture longer.
  • Latex and butyl bladders keep modern balls perfectly inflated for weeks vs daily inflation for old leather balls.
  • Machine-stitched panels and fused seams last far longer than hand-sewn balls from decades past.
  • Aerodynamic thermal molding and dimple patterning create truer, more accurate flight than old balls.
  • Modern balls feel cushier and softer. Old leather soccer balls were like cement!

So while old school leather balls look classy, new balls are engineering masterpieces. The combination of responsiveness, durability, and performance is lightyears ahead thanks to modern materials and technology.