How many hexagons are on a soccer ball ? The ball is pretty much the most important thing to consider when it comes to playing soccer and there are so many different variations of ball available to buy around the world.
The most traditional form of soccer ball features a series of panels that all come together to form a spherical shape that can effectively fold out into a honeycomb-like shape.
This kind of soccer ball is made up of panels that are both pentagons and hexagons; today we will be asking the question how many are there on the ball?
A soccer ball features panels that are shaped like both pentagons and hexagons, with the ball featuring 12 panels shaped like pentagons and 20 panels shaped like hexagons. These shapes help form the structure of the ball and essentially form a puzzle when put together that holds the ball together in a round shape.
What Are These Shapes For?
There are a number of reasons why soccer balls are made up of both pentagons and hexagons, however, the main reason is to do with the structure of the ball.
Soccer balls are of course round shaped and need to stay this way whenever it is kicked in order to prevent any disruption to the match, for this reason, the pentagons and hexagons fit together like a puzzle when they are stitched together.
This all ensures that the ball has structural integrity throughout the match.
Another reason why these panels are important relates to the aerodynamics of the ball, these days some of the more elaborate designs don’t use the pentagon and hexagon style as it is no longer the most aerodynamic way of making a soccer ball.
In the past, though, there was no better choice as far as manufacturers were concerned and this meant that the design flourished for many years.
The final reason that the panels were used was for the birth of television both in black and white and in color.
With the traditional style of soccer ball having both black and white panels on them it was easy for television viewers to see where the ball was while watching a match from home.
The same can be said about when the transfer to color television as the balls was still easy to separate from the players and field, perhaps we should go back to this style in the future?
Does The Number Ever Change?
The traditional number of panels on a soccer ball is 12 pentagons and 20 hexagons as these are the measurements for a standard-sized soccer ball used in any FIFA-sanctioned game of soccer. However, there are, of course, many different forms of soccer that use different variations of the ball.
The measurements involved with working out how many panels needed to be on a ball are incredibly hard to understand, but in essence, they relate to the way they need to fit together in a spherical shape. So, do the maths change when the size does?
Essentially yes, when the size of the ball changes the measurements involved change too as having the same number of panels as a regular-sized ball wouldn’t give the ball the same structural integrity.
Who Created The 32-Panel Design?
We are all so familiar with the traditional 32-panel design of soccer balls in today’s game, but less is known about the guy who came up with the idea in the first place.
To start with, his name was Eigil Nielsen, a Danish goalkeeper that also worked for a shoe-making company alongside his soccer career.
Nielsen was obsessed with researching how to make the soccer ball better and worked on the topic for many years before discovering the 32-panel design we all know and love. Nielsen founded Select Sports, a brand that is still going today and still produces some of the best soccer balls in the world.
It took some time for the wider world to become aware of Nielsen’s creation but once FIFA got wind of the idea they soon wanted to use it in the World Cup.
The 32-panel soccer ball design had become commonplace in most ball production by the 1960s and as such the first World Cup ball to use the design was made by Adidas ahead of the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.
Now you know how many pentagons and hexagons there are on a soccer ball as well as why they are there and who created the design.
Maybe next time you find yourself discussing the game in a bar you could amaze your pals with this newfound knowledge.
Why Are Soccer Balls Made of Hexagons and Pentagons?
Before we get to the reasoning behind the distinct design of the modern-day soccer ball, you need to get an idea of how it evolved to its current state. Here are some of its most notable ancestors:
A military exercise called “Tsu’ Chu” that was practiced as early as 200-300BC is known to have some uncanny similarities to modern-day soccer. The game was played with what might be the soccer-ball’s oldest family member: a leather ball stuffed with feathers and hair.
The game consisted of players split into two teams, the goal being to get the ball into the net strung between two bamboo posts with only the use of their chests, feet back and shoulders. It was a rather difficult exercise because the opening of the net was only about 10-15inches wide.
The ancient Roman game “Harpastum,” played with a small hard ball stuffed with feathers, also boasts some similarities to modern-day soccer.
The game consisted of two teams battling to keep the ball on their half of the field for the longest amount of time. Harpastum is infamous for being extremely violent, with multiple records of serious injuries including broken limbs. The players were permitted to fight each other and utilize wrestling holds to hinder the opposing team.
“Ball sports,” otherwise known as “mob football” emerged in Europe as early as the 9th century, and it’s as scary as it sounds. Each region seemed to have its own take on the highly competitive game. A notable example is the Welsh “cnapan,” a large-scale, violent sport, that dates back to the Dark Ages.
The game was organized between two villages that were relatively close together. The idea being to get the ball to the church porch of your own town. The ball used for cnapan was unlike the other ancestors of the soccer ball, in that it was a slippery wooden ball, intended to be difficult to covertly smuggle. The players in each game could number over 2000, which heightened the risk of injury, and even death in some cases.
The Evolution of the Modern-Day Soccer Ball
Now that we’ve covered the soccer ball’s treacherous past, it’s time to shed some light on how it ended up the way it looks today.
In 1836, Charles Goodyear patented the manufacturing process of vulcanized rubber, which was a serious milestone in the evolution of the soccer ball. But it wasn’t until 1855 that he released the rubber match ball. Before then, most balls consisted of an inflated pig bladder encased in leather. Those balls had been prone to irregular shapes, thus making them hard to control.
The design of the soccer ball was revolutionized yet again by H.J Lindon in 1862 when he produced a ball that utilized an inflatable “rubber bladder” that held its shape.
A bit of soccer ball folklore for you: it was rumored that Lindon was compelled to create balls made of rubber because his wife had died from a lung disease that she contracted from blowing up too many pig bladders.
Pentagons and Hexagons: The Soccer Ball’s Pinnacle of Evolution
White soccer balls became the norm in 1951. But the soccer ball that’s most commonly known today—which boasts a black and white exterior made up of pentagons and hexagons—became the standard in the 1960s.
After centuries of different designs, soccer ball manufacturers discovered that a ball composed of leather hexagons and pentagons created a perfectly spherical shape that held its form. The design was coined the “buckyball,” and it is still the most common ball on soccer fields today.
The buckyball made its international debut at the 1970 World Cup Finals in Mexico. The historical ball was called the Telstar and it was manufactured by Adidas. It was designed with a black and white pattern so it would be visible on the black and white televisions of the era. Although we have color TV now, the iconic black and white pattern still remains popular today.
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