Helium is one of these gases that have gained a lot of popularity among people. The reason behind this is its ability to make things like balloons float in the air.
But what about a soccer ball? Does the helium gas have any effects on a soccer ball? And are soccer balls filled with helium during professional soccer games?
No, soccer balls are not filled with helium during professional soccer games. Regular air is usually used to fill the soccer balls in a professional match. One of the many reasons why soccer balls aren’t filled with helium is the fact that helium doesn’t make any significant difference to the ball’s behavior.
So why is this a common belief then? The reason why many people might think that soccer balls are filled with helium could be the fact that soccer players are sometimes able to curve the ball in crazy ways.
In fact, these players are just extremely good, and the gases inside the ball don’t usually have a major significance when it comes to the crazy things that you watch the soccer players do to the soccer ball.
So that’s the quick answer for you, soccer balls are filled with regular air.
Why not helium though? Here are some of the reasons.
1- Helium has negligible effect on the soccer ball
Helium has a significant effect on balloons. It can literally make them fly. With that in mind, one might also assume that helium does have some effects on the soccer ball too.
Technically, these people are correct. Filling a soccer ball with helium does have its effects on the ball, but the magnitude of these effects is what’s important.
In other words, are these effects noticeable? Many soccer players who have tried filling the soccer ball with helium said no. The effect is not even noticeable.
If you and I were given two balls, one with helium and the other one with regular air, we probably won’t be able to even notice any differences at all between the two balls.
But why is that? Well, one of the reasons is the fact that the weight of the air inside the soccer ball isn’t large compared to the weight of the actual materials of the ball (i.e., the weight of the ball without air inside it).
In other words, the weight of the air inside the ball doesn’t really contribute a lot to the overall weight of the ball.
Decreasing the weight of the soccer ball by a few grams won’t make any significant difference when the overall weight of a professional soccer ball of size 5 is somewhere between 410 and 450 grams.
The same thing applies to the other changes that take place when you replace regular air with helium inside the soccer ball. The changes in the physical properties do not have any significance.
So to sum this whole thing up, it wouldn’t make any sense to fill the soccer ball with helium when the effect is not even noticeable.
2- Soccer balls filled with helium deflate faster
Soccer balls usually deflate overtime due to how nature works. However, the speed of the deflation process depends on what gases the ball is filled with.
For example, soccer balls filled with helium will deflate much faster than balls filled with regular air.
Why? Simply because the helium molecules are smaller than the molecules of many of the gases that are found in regular air.
In other words, the helium molecules can escape easier since they are smaller. Over time, most of the helium molecules will manage to escape the ball and the ball will deflate.
So in summary, you’ll find your soccer ball deflated much more often if you fill it with helium compared to when you fill it with regular air.
3- Helium is not as readily available as regular air.
Perhaps this is one of the major reasons of why soccer balls are not filled with helium during professional soccer games (and during most non-professional soccer games too)
Helium is not readily available to everybody.
We all know how easy it is to fill a soccer ball with regular air. All you need to do is use a ball pump and that’s it. The pump will make the air outside the ball go inside and you’ll have your soccer ball inflated.
Now compare this to filling your soccer ball with helium. You will have to buy a helium tank which is very expensive.
Then you’ll have to transfer the helium from the tank to the ball every time you want to inflate your ball.
Plus you will have to inflate the ball much more often since helium filled soccer balls deflate quickly as mentioned earlier.
So all in all, inflating your soccer ball with helium requires much more work and is much more expensive than inflating the ball with regular air.
One of the main reasons behind soccer’s popularity in many countries around the world (eg: Brazil, the country of soccer/football) is because playing soccer is very cheap. All you need is a ball and a field to play on.
So imagine what would happen to soccer’s popularity world wide if the soccer balls were required to be filled with an expensive gas like helium.
Ohh, and did I mention that helium is a very rare gas on Earth? Every now and then, the world faces a new helium shortage that affects huge industries around the world.
In other words, the prices of helium tanks might increase by a lot during the shortage periods.
Now imagine if every soccer ball in the world was filled with helium, that will only make the helium shortage issue even worse.
Instead of using the available helium for medical reasons and other extremely urgent reasons, people will be wasting helium by filling it inside soccer balls without gaining any significant value.
Soccer balls are not filled with helium because helium doesn’t cause any significant difference to the way the soccer ball behaves.
Helium is a rare gas on Earth, and thus obtaining it might be very expensive compared to filling your soccer ball with free air.
We've reached the end of this article. If you are interested, you can learn more about how hard the soccer ball should be from this article.