How to deflate a ball the right way: How and what to use

How to deflate a ball the right way: How and what to use

Ciku Njuguna
September 18, 2023 at 10:29 AM

The need to inflate or deflate any sports ball serves different purposes for athletes. In any sport, a deflated or over-inflated ball can undermine a player's performance. Dig in here for a complete step-by-step guide on how to deflate a ball in different sports.

How do you get air out of a ball without a needle?
A demonstration of a safety pin being used to let the air out of a football. Photo by S Dominick.
Source: Getty Images

Should a football be fully inflated? While each sport has various regulations surrounding the amount of air pressure required, playing with softer, deflated balls has advantages and disadvantages. Scroll to learn how to deflate a ball with or without a needle.

What are the advantages of deflating a football?

Sports equipment managers, players, and coaches may need to remove air from sports balls in between uses for various reasons. Primarily, this is done to store them for travel. A report by Simple Flying revealed that the American Transportation Security Administration (TSA) expects passengers to transport sports balls that are partly or entirely deflated when travelling.

How do you deflate a ball without damaging it?
Football steward Richard Johnstone was pictured inflating a selection of Adidas footballs on the pitch at Old Trafford on May 25, 2003 in Manchester, England. Photo by Gary M. Prior.
Source: Getty Images

Additionally, when not in use, it is advisable to store them in a deflated state. This tip improves their longevity, keeping them sturdy.

How to deflate a ball with a needle

Sports balls typically have two layers made using leather or synthetic leather and an inner rubber bladder. The inner bladder has a valve used to let air in or out.

The most appropriate way to have the air expelled from them requires a maintenance kit with an inflation needle. Scroll down for a summary of how to deflate a ball for packing or storage.

  1. Locate the valve. Typically, the valve is marked by the manufacturer. However, if not, find a small hole on a nail-head-sized black cover on the ball's surface.
  2. Lubricate the pump's inflation needle using a lubricant, such as oil, glycerin, or water.
  3. Insert the inflation needle into the valve. Slowly and carefully press the needle into the valve opening on the outer cover. After playing, the valve becomes de-aligned with the opening. As such, this step should be done cautiously to avoid perforating the rubber bladder.
  4. Re-align the valve. Shake the ball with the valve facing down to line up the valve and its bladder opening on the surface.
  5. Gently press the ball to release air from the bladder. While releasing air from the bladder, keep the inflation needle well-placed without moving it.
How do you deflate a basketball without tools?
A coaching staff member of Club de Fútbol Pachuca was pictured checking the inflation of balls during a match between Pachuca and Puebla as part of El Torneo Guard1anes 2021 Liga MX at Hidalgo Stadium on April 12, 2021, in Pachuca, Mexico. Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media.
Source: Getty Images

How do you use an electric ball pump for deflation?

Electric ball pumps are equipped with a pressure relief system that automatically releases excess air when inflating. Learn how to deflate a ball with a pump for storage and travelling purposes with the following steps.

  1. Press the power button for two to three seconds to turn on the pump.
  2. Locate the valve's opening on the outer covering.
  3. Plug the inbuilt inflation needle into the valve opening, then press the deflation button.
  4. Allow the pump to release air to the desired level. Press the power button once this is achieved.
How do you air up a ball without a pump?
A 3D rendering of high-pressure hand pumps pictured with inflated and deflated soccer balls. Photo by Alex LMX.
Source: Getty Images

How to deflate a ball without a pump

Without a pump or inflation needle, the ball can be deflated with a pen, paperclip, bobby pin or sewing needle. However, releasing air without a needle may cause damage to the valve. Have a look at a summary of how to deflate a ball with a pen or a paperclip.

  1. Locate the valve's opening on the outer covering.
  2. Lubricate the needle or paperclip using a lubricant, oil, glycerin, water or saliva to ease its entry into the valve.
  3. Straighten the paper clip as much as possible. The paperclip should be at least one and a quarter inches long (3.18 centimetres).
  4. Gently push the pen or paperclip into the pen valve.
  5. Slowly press the air out. While squeezing, firmly hold the needle or paper clip.
  6. Carefully remove the needle or paperclip once adequately deflated. Ensure the whole paperclip is completely removed from the valve.

How to deflate a ball quickly

In emergency situations, is there a way to deflate a ball quickly? The best way to reduce the air pressure from a sports ball without damaging it requires the use of the correct equipment, such as an electric pump or the pump needle.

How to deflate a ball without popping it

Caution must be taken to avoid damaging the inner bladder or valve while deflating it. This can be done by following the following steps.

  • Use the appropriate pump needle.
  • Use a lubricant when inserting the needle.
  • Ensure that the valve opening and the bladder pipeline are aligned to avoid perforating the bladder.
How do you deflate a ball easily?
The referee holds a deflated ball during a Los Angeles Galaxy's MLS match against Portland Timbers at the StubHub Center on October 18, 2015, in Carson, California. Photo by Shaun Clark.
Source: Getty Images

Why are deflated footballs better?

In 2015, the NFL deflate-gate scandal brought to light the ball pressure preferences of players and coaches. The scandal broke out a year after the infamous 2014 AFC title match between the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts. The allegations against the New England Patriots claimed that the team used balls that were under-inflated by 2 pounds per square inch below the NFL regulations, leading to their 45-7 win against the Colts.

While speaking to SportsCentre, retired NFL quarterback Mark Brunell remarked that it is easier to kick, throw, and catch a deflated football, saying,

"There is a huge advantage to having a deflated one. If you take a little air out of it, it is easier to palm it."
How do you deflate a football fast?
NFL umpire Carl Paganelli was pictured checking a ball's inflation after a play during the 2015 AFC Championship Game between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium on January 18, 2015, in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Photo by Elsa.
Source: Getty Images

University of Nebraska physics professor Timothy Gay also added that,

"When a little air is removed, it makes it easier for players to kick accurately because they get more surface in contact with the toe."

On the contrary, players such as Aaron Rodgers prefer slightly over-inflated balls. However, in an interview with ESPN Radio, he acknowledged the edge that a slight deflation can give a player. In addition, Northern Illinois University physics professor Mike Eads rebuffed the advantages of the practice, saying,

"The higher the pressure, the harder and more firm the ball becomes. Lighter ones are more influenced by air resistance, meaning they do not travel as far."

Although a ball is typically used in an inflated state, the knowledge of how to deflate a ball for different sports is necessary for travelling and storage purposes. The appropriate use of the required equipment also ensures the longevity of the ball.

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Ciku Njuguna
SEO Editor